The Department of Conservation is pleased to announce the opening of a further section of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This will take effect from Saturday 9th March, 2013.
DOC Acting Area Manager Bhrent Guy says this is exciting news as it extends the open section of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing from the beautiful Emerald Lakes to the pass between Blue Lake and North Crater. Although it is only approximately another 1.5 kilometres it will allow visitors to have a great view to the north towards Lake Taupō and the Rotoaira Basin.
The Mangatepopo Road access to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is open but restricted due to limited car parking. When the car parks are full, visitors need to use a local transport concessionaire to be taken to the start of the track. “DOC staff are working very hard to manage the Mangatepopo Road and car park to give people the opportunity to access the track using their own vehicles. However visitor numbers are still high and the majority of people will still need to use bus transport to the Mangatepopo car park.” Bhrent advised visitors to book transport from one of the local transport operators to avoid disappointment when the car parks were full.
Te Maari first erupted on August 6, then again on November 21 last year. Monitoring of the volcanic activity at the site has been on-going and there are signs that the activity may be slowing. However scientific advice to the department indicates the risk of another eruption similar to the August event is still too high to allow public access to the track from Blue Lake Saddle to the Ketetahi car park. This section will remain closed.
A volcanic hazard zone remains in place around Te Maari extending out to 2 km in the south and 2.8 km in the north. Within this the one kilometre radius Rahui protective zone is still in place. It is hoped that ongoing monitoring and risk assessment will allow a further review of the remaining section of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing by the end of May or earlier. “DOC is committed to the re-opening of the remainder of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing when the risk assessment shows the risk to the public is within acceptable levels,” commented Bhrent. Visitors to Tongariro National Park are reminded of the very sacred nature of the mountains. All rubbish must be taken out of the park and visitors must know where toilets are located before they start their walks.
“The tops of these mountains are sacred places and visitors are asked to respect them as they would their own home, says Bhrent. The volcanic status of Mt Ruapehu remains unchanged since before the New Year with an advisory against entry into the two kilometre radius Summit Volcanic Zone still in place. Visitors are advised not to enter this zone on the summit of Mt Ruapehu as there is still a heightened risk of an eruption without any prior warning. They are encouraged to take a chairlift ride to the Knoll Ridge and walk on the routes and tracks outside of the Summit Hazard Zone. However Dr Harry Keys from DOC has been working with information gathered from GNS Science and local pilots and he commented that, “Ongoing monitoring of volcanic conditions of Mt Ruapehu is pointing to reducing risks and therefore the possibility of reducing or removing the current advisory for entry into the Summit Volcanic Zone within the next 2-3 weeks.”