Date: 16 October 2012
Tongariro Alpine Crossing track repair work with the Te Maari volcanic crater steaming away in the background
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing track will re-open this Friday in time for Labour weekend visitors. This opening follows recent closures relating to Rähui and safety hazard zone restrictions that have since been reduced following the Te Maari volcanic eruption on the 6 August.
The track has been repaired, but in places may be a little soft and rocky. Visitors still need to consider winter conditions with snow cover and avalanche conditions remaining on many high parts of the track and are advised to contact, i-SITES, Mountain Safety Council website and Whakapapa Visitor Centre for updates on weather, avalanche and track conditions.
A public ceremony opening the complete track from Mangatepopo to Ketetahi track entrances will take place this Friday at the Mangatepopo car park at 10 am. The ceremony will be conducted by kaumätua from local hapü Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro. This ceremony will lift the Rähui over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track, but a Rähui will still remain in place around a 1 km hazard zone of the Te Maari crater.
The opening of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is exciting news for tourism operators with the start of the Great Walk season at Labour weekend.
Signs showing the location of the remaining Rähui will be in place on the track and safety flyers regarding the volcanic hazard will be available at the Mangatepopo and Ketetahi road ends.
In the early hours of Sunday morning a lake which had formed behind a debris dam created by the eruption of Te Maari, burst through creating a mud flow off the side of Tongariro. Small amounts of mud, rocks and vegetation flowed onto State Highway 46. Residents along the highway and around Lake Rotoaira will be relieved that the dam is no longer a threat to them.
There was significant damage to 200 m of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track on the section which passes through the bush near the Ketetahi carpark end. Mud was also spread over a further 1.3 km of the track in this area and visitors can expect it to be muddy and uneven under foot here. This event has mostly eliminated any risk to visitors using the track from lahars and mudflows and has relieved previously necessary post-eruption hazard risk management.
Members of the public are invited to the Opening Ceremony at 10 am on Friday, 19 October, at the Mangatepopo Carpark.