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The full Tongariro Alpine Crossing will re-open early next month in time for the winter trekking season, Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The Department of Conservation is satisfied that the risks of future volcanic activity has dropped to a sufficiently low level that the full Tongariro Alpine Crossing can be re-opened. This decision has been made on the basis of risk assessments by GNS Science and peer reviewed by experts from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park,” Dr Smith said.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is New Zealand’s most popular walk attracting more than 71,000 trekkers each year. The track was closed after the eruption at the Te Maari Crater in August and again in November. The track was partially re-opened in December but an exclusion area means that people doing the crossing cannot complete it and need to do a return trip back to the Mangatepopo end.

 

“There can never be a 100 per cent guarantee of safety on an active volcano but the expert advice gives us sufficient confidence that the track can be re-opened. DOC will also be implementing additional measures in summer to improve visitor safety including electronic signboards that can be rapidly updated if volcanic unrest increases, increased eruption detection capability, additional advisory notices, and additional training of DOC staff and concessionaries.

“The track will be fully re-opened on May 8. This decision is based on the current risk assessment and will have to be re-considered if there is any change in volcanic activity on the mountain.”

A map of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is attached.
Click to view attachment: Tongariro_map.pdf

Volcanic Activity

Tongariro last erupted in 2012, small ash eruptions from the Te Maari Crater on August 6th and November 21st. These were the first eruptions of Te Maari in 116 years. No one was injured in these events, before these recent eruptions the Red Crater was considered Tongariro's most active vent, last giving out ash in 1926 and creating the craters known as the Emerald Lakes. The minerals from this eruption gave the lakes their stunning colour.  All hikers on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing have managed to see the highlights, Red Crater, Blue lake, the emerald lakes and summit both Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe while authorities look at opening the last leg past the Te Maari Crater.

http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/authorities-look-open-tongariro-crossing-video-5391027