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Body found on Tongariro Alpine Crossing

A rahui has been placed on the crossing until October 5

The body of a 53-year-old man who went missing on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing yesterday has been found and a rahui has been put on the track for the next three days.

The man was part of a group of four who set off from the Ketetahi end to hike the crossing at 8am on Monday, October 1.

Police said the group was together until the bushline, near Ketetahi Hut, when three of the men continued without the missing man.

Police were notified by the man’s wife at 5pm when he did not return to his vehicle and

police and LandSAR searched through blizzard conditions until after midnight. The search continued from 7am this morning with four SAR teams and a helicopter.

National Park senior constable Conrad Smith said the man was found on Red Crater ridge, below the summit of Red Crater, at over 1700m.

Smith said conditions deteriorated throughout the day on Monday, with limited visibility, rain and snow. He said the shoulder season was often a busy time for search and rescue in the national park.

“It’s a dangerous time of year because the weather is so changeable,” Smith said.

The man’s body is being recovered and carried to the Mangatepopo Road end. Smith said police are yet to determine whether he was a New Zealander or from overseas or how prepared the group were for the conditions.

It comes just three weeks before the tramping season officially opens on the crossing, which attracts about 141,000 walkers a year.

Tongariro National Park has the most search and rescue call outs of any national park in the country.

According to the Mountain Safety Council, 14 per cent of all search and rescue incidents involving trampers occurred in the national park. There were 322 rescues in park between 2010 and 2017, more than double the number of rescues in Fiordland National Park, which is the second busiest for LandSAR.

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