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29th of November 2012

 

Many people from around the world were excited to get back onto the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the Tongariro Northern Circuit after the very small ash eruption which closed the track for monitoring last week.  Ngati Tuwharetoa through hapu Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro, conducted a Te Whakapainga (the journey to make right) prior to the re-opening of the track.  Visitors are able to walk the full Northern Circuit or out and return to the Oturere junction at the Emerald Lakes which are even more spectacular as a result of the recent volcanic activity, including the summits of Mt Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. 

All reports were no unexpected events and everyone enjoyed the volcanic landscape.


 

 

27 November 2012

Tongariro Northern Circuit to re-open

The Department of Conservation plans to re-open the Tongariro Northern Circuit and part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Thursday.

New signage and barriers will be in place in time for the tracks to Emerald Lakes and Oturere Valley to be open Thursday morning.

DOC’s Ruapehu Area Manager Jonathan Maxwell says staff have been working continually since last week’s event at Te Maari, looking at the science and potential hazards to have a current risk assessment and the confidence to re-open. GNS has also provided some advice.

“Visitor and staff safety in and around the park is paramount and that has always been our priority.

“The tracks being re-opened can not only be used safely but will provide visitors with an amazing enhanced national park experience.

“Tongariro National Park has world heritage status for it’s natural and cultural values. It is an active and living landscape and the recent events have left more exciting active features for people to view, film and photograph,” Jonathan says.

“Volcanic landscapes around the world including Tongariro are first class tourism venues attracting thousands of visitors each year. Tongariro with this recent activity may have just jumped up the world-wide must do list, to perhaps the top,” he says.

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.

A blessing ceremony, Te Whakapainga (the journey to make right), will take place at Mangatepopo Road car park, on Wednesday in preparation for the re-opening to the public.

Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro spokesman Te Ngaehe Wanikau says the mountain has spoken again. It is very important that we have listened to what the maunga has said, and before we re-open the maunga (mountain) and the whenua (land) to the people, that we respect and honour it with a blessing.

A Rāhui (protective restriction) remains in place around Upper Te Maari Crater area having been placed there in mid October by Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro. The Rāhui upholds a traditional Maori custom (Tikanga Maori) to ensure the safety and protection of all people entering the region. The Rāhui covers the highest risk area within 1km of the crater and remains closed by DOC.

Members of Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro hapu will continue to support the re-opening by welcoming trampers to the maunga and whenua at Mangatepopo car park. They will talk to visitors about the cultural significance of the maunga (mountain) and the land (whenua) as well as sharing some of the stories of our people says Te Ngaehe.

The Eruption Risk Management zoning has been reduced to a distance of 3kms around Upper Te Maari Crater. Facilities remain closed within this area, with the exception of the short distance of track to Emerald Lakes, the junction of the track in Oturere Valley, and down into Oturere Valley. This means that people can traverse the volcano via the Tongariro Northern Circuit around Mt Ngauruhoe.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing as a whole will take longer to re-open with the section of track from Oturere Junction to Ketetahi Road remaining closed at this stage. It will be re-opened as soon as the current risks are assessed by DOC as being sufficiently low to ensure public safety. This assessment will be based on the probability of significant hazards from further eruptions.

“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,” Jonathan says.

All other facilities, activities and alternative walking tracks are fully operational within the 80,000ha Tongariro National Park.

"The eruption of ash and steam from the Te Maari craters was an added bonus to a wonderful day out on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing"

The Department of Conservation and GNS have had a 1 km restricted zone around the Te Maari Crater since the eruption on the 6th of August 2012. No one walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing can access this area. The eruption on Mt tongariro occured in the 1 km area and was viewed from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

The eruption spewed ash that was restricted to within the 1km exclusion zone and did not affect the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Tongariro-vents-map

A small eruption on Mt Tongariro was witnessed by a variety of groups of different nationalities walking the Tongariro Crossing yesterday. 

Emerald lakes Nov 2012

Beautiful Emerald Lakes 21st Novmeber 2012

Blue Lake Nov 2012

Blue Lake 21st November 2012

Active Volcanic Hazard Zone

Entering the viewing area of the Te Maari Crater on the 21st November 2012

Te Marri Crater

The steam coming from the Te Maari Crater.

View of the ash eruption

The view of the ash eruption

Time for a photo

yes -  the Te Marri crater burped while I was here, how many in the world has seen this?

Ash falling from the sky

Then the ash (black cloud) started to fall from the sky over the crater area it is beautiful!

Time to leave

Time to leave - every one steadily walked off the crossing

 

Dannielle from the Netherlands was enjoying her day on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, taking photos of the Emerald lakes and Blue lake, when she entered the area to view the Te Maari Crater (which was still steaming from the August eruption) Five minutes later Te Maari erupted steam and then ash for two minutes.

All hikers were safely evacuated off the mountain assisted by the New Zealand police and the Department of Conservation. Track conditions 

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is closed for further monitoring, we live on active earth this is the beauty of nature.  Tongariro Track Transport takes the safety of our visitors very seriously; we respect the guidelines given to us as a DoC concessionaire in the Tongariro National Park, and are recommending safe alternative hikes not in the area of the Te Maari Crater until we have the all clear.