Date: 20 September 2012
The Department of Conservation will re-open another two sections of track on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the Tongariro Northern Circuit.
The tracks to Emerald Lakes and Oturere Valley will re-open to the public this weekend.
The department has continued to work closely with Ngāti Tūwharetoa through local hapu Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro, and community and business leaders to re-open tracks as the eruption risk management area has been revised.
The area has now been reduced to a distance of 2.5 km around Upper Te Maari crater. This allows access to Emerald Lakes and the junction of the track in Oturere Valley, and means that people can traverse the volcano via the Tongariro Northern Circuit around Mt Ngauruhoe.
A Rāhui (protective restriction) placed on entering the high risk area by Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro, who hold Manawhenua (governing rights) over the lands has also been revised in line with the department’s revision. The Rāhui upholds a traditional Maori custom (Tikanga Maori) to ensure the safety and protection of all people entering the region. The Rāhui now covers the area of tracks that are within 2.5km of the eruption site and remain closed by DOC
The pou will be moved to the Emerald Lakes-Oturere Junction with information about the history and cultural significance of the maunga and whenua to the tangata whenua, and also information about the eruption.
DOC’s Taupō-nui-a-Tia Area Manager Dave Lumley says the safety of staff and the public is paramount. When the high risk area is reduced further, and the tracks have been made safe, the rest of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing would be opened up.
The sections of track re-opening this weekend are from Red Crater to Emerald Lakes and the junction, and the track from Oturere Hut to the junction.
The section of track from the junction to Ketetahi Road remains closed at this stage.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing as a whole will take longer to re-open as the damage to facilities and tracks needs to be made safe.
Once the high risk area has been further reduced and the area is safe to re-enter DOC staff will begin to stabilise the damage to the track that occurred within the 2km hazard zone around the vents.
“We are confident that the Tongariro Alpine Crossing will be open before the summer tramping season starts at the end of next month,” Dave says.
“We are working with the whole community – iwi, hapu, business leaders, tourism operators and agencies –to provide safe public access to one of New Zealand’s most special places,” Dave says.
All other facilities, activities and alternative walking tracks are fully operational within the Tongariro National Park.