The Ruapehu District's remoteness, and some resistance by Maori, made it one of the last areas in New Zealand to be settled.
The first major European influence came in the 1840s, with missionaries on the southern reaches of the Whanganui River.
Its advantage as an access and trading route saw regular steamboat services commence in the late 1890s, firstly to Pipiriki then, eventually, to Taumarunui. Tourism and trade flourished.
Although the main riverboat trade ceased in the 1920s due to improved roads and the railway, passenger services continued until 1939.
Completed in 1908, the Main Trunk railway is New Zealand's most significant land route and one of its greatest engineering achievements.
Running through the heart of the District, the dense forest, steep inclines and deep gullies gave rise to ingenious solutions such as the Raurimu Spiral and the Makatote viaduct.
Built in 1936, the Bridge to Nowhere stands as a poignant memorial to the abandoned hopes and dreams of returning World War I servicemen that settled in the remote Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka Valleys under a government rehabilitation programme.
Transforming virgin native forest into farmland, the endeavours of these pioneer settlers provide this area with a unique history. Though initially prosperous, the farms were eventually forsaken due to the area's difficult access for trading and the onset of the Great Depression.
The Ruapehu District has several historic places registered on the NZ Historic Places Trust register. Council's Heritage Policy contains a full list. The NZ Historic Places Trust website provides full details of the site.
To access the NZ Historic Places website click here. In the "Local Authority" field choose "Ruapehu District Council".