The Department of Conservation (DOC) together with iwi Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro re-opened the Tongariro Alpine Crossing today. The opening was attended by Louise Upston MP for Taupo, regional tourism organisations from the Central North Island and local operators.
Rev Sonny Garmonsway, Louise Upston MP for Taupo and
Te Ngaehe Wanikau, Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro.
Prior to re-opening the track, the Te Whakapainga ceremony was performed by local kaumatua. The blessing acknowledged the spiritual guardians of the mountain, thus ensuring that all who use the mountain are not only kept safe and protected, but that they also share and ‘feel’ an experience that is beyond the stunning landscape.
The re-opening is great news for the tourism sector who have applauded DOC for both their careful handling of access to the Crossing last summer, as well as their decision to re-open what, for many international visitors, is a ‘bucket list’ activity.
“The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a big part of what makes our region and indeed New Zealand, famous – visitors simply don’t get the best of what we have to offer without it”, commented General Manager of Visit Ruapehu, Mike Smith.
The weather was perfect on that day
The volcanic activity on the track has resulted in new tourism products being marketed such as the Mangatepopo return trip or the 23km, alternate route to the Desert Road, taking in historic Oturere Hut. Counts on the Tama Lakes walk were well up this summer on previous years as people took the opportunity to explore other walks within the dual world-heritage listed, Tongariro National Park.
“Over the past 5 months visitors have still enjoyed the highlights of Emerald Lakes and Red Crater. Now they can once again have the satisfaction of completing the true Crossing, but with the added excitement of passing the thermal vent at Te Maari Crater” commented Stew Barclay from Adrift Guided Outdoor Adventures.
Increased collaboration between DOC, iwi and the tourism sector has been another outcome. With the goal of enhancing the walk with cultural interpretation and infrastructure, DOC have significant investment planned in time for the 2014 summer hiking season.
“The result will be a world class experience that visitors will talk about long after they have returned home” concluded Vanessa Freeman, General Manager of Destination Great Lake Taupo. “The future of New Zealand’s most popular one day walk looks bright”.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing Reopening Ceremony 8 May 2013
The reopening ceremony of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on 8 May 2013, attended by the Department of Conservation (DOC) together with iwi Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro, Louise Upston MP for Taupo, regional tourism organisations from the Central North Island and local operators.