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Hikers urged to prepare for shorter days

Hikers urged to prepare for shorter days

Visitors to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing are being urged to consider the impact of the end of daylight saving and the changing season on their trip.

During the last couple of weeks in March, Police had to coordinate 14 search and rescue operations to the popular tourist attraction, and this could escalate if visitors don't heed the additional risks that come with shorter days.

Senior Constable Barry Shepherd said: "On a positive note, equipment and clothing have not been an issue during recent rescues; it has been good to see hikers being well prepared in that respect. However we have benefited from favourable weather which we know will change as we head into winter.

“The issues we are dealing with are generally twofold. Many are minor injuries and illness which can't always be avoided. The others are overdue hikers who have underestimated the Alpine Crossing. It is not an easy hike and it's admirable to see so many people, across all age ranges, physically challenging themselves to take it on. However it is important that people are realistic about the challenge and the time needed to complete it, as this will only become more exaggerated as the days get shorter. We want the experience to be memorable for all the right reasons and that means being prepared.”

Clothing and equipment needs to be suitable for changeable weather conditions and visitors should be adding a torch to their gear in the event that they are caught out by darkness during the final stages of the track. Anyone planning to do the hike should ensure that but they are fully informed of the length and the level of fitness required before heading out. The Department of Conservation has a wealth of information available at visitor centres and online and there are also a number of experienced tour operators available to help visitors to the area.

As we head further into the winter season, snow will bring its own risks to the area, including the risk of avalanche. The avalanche forecasting season for the region starts up in June and extra caution and additional winter equipment will be needed during these times; an important consideration particularly for first-time visitors.

Ends

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