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Experts move to stop rogue Tongariro visitors

Experts move to stop rogue Tongariro visitors

Efforts by local tourism operators to keep visitors undertaking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing safe are being undermined by a small number of individuals who ignore expert advice and potentially put their lives at risk.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing Transport and Guide concessionaires group (TACTAG) is working together extremely well to improve the safety of people doing the Crossing, which is internationally renowned as one of New Zealand’s top tramping experiences, says Chairman Stewart Barclay.

“We are very pleased with the contribution the TACTAG is making to alpine safety. However, some visitors are not heeding the advice of our members and other experts and are attempting the Crossing when the weather is unsuitable and without appropriate clothing and equipment.

“The Crossing can be an extreme environment in wintertime with snow and ice and rapidly changing weather conditions.”

Police Ruapehu Area Commander Inspector Steve Mastrovich says a group of about 10 international visitors was recently advised by i-SITE staff in both Taupo and Turangi that they weren’t equipped or experienced enough to do the Crossing but carried on anyway. They drove to the track by private vehicle where they ignored further warnings by two TACTAG members not to proceed.

“They became lost and were very lucky to be rescued without mishap. These visitors need to understand that Search & Rescue isn’t a back-up to poor decision making, and they need to listen to the advice of the people who have local knowledge.”

Tongariro Alpine Crossing is recognised as one of the best day walks in the world and a lot of work has been done by the TACTAG since its formation in 2007 to strengthen protocols that guide operators on weather conditions and the minimum equipment for trampers.

At TACTAG’s latest meeting, the Department of Conservation said that in future it would require operators holding concessions to provide guiding and transport services for the Crossing to be TACTAG members and abide by its protocols.

The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) has supported the TACTAG since its inception in 2007.

TIA is working with the Police to develop a process for tourism operators, i-SITE and DOC staff and other relevant organisations to alert the police if they think individuals are planning to venture into the outdoors when they have been advised it is dangerous to do so.

Safety Information

The AdventureSmart website at www.adventuresmart.org.nz provides good quality safety information to New Zealanders and international visitors on a wide range of recreational pursuits. Duncan Ferner of the NZ Search & Rescue Secretariat says, “AdventureSmart has good advice for everyone, regardless of ability or experience.”

The Outdoor Safety Code outlines simple rules to help Kiwis and visitors enjoy the outdoors safely:
• Plan your trip
• Tell someone
• Be aware of the weather
• Know your limits
• Take sufficient supplies

ENDS

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