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Call for Kiwis to quiz tourists on tramping safety

Hikers on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Photo: George Driver

Police and DOC are calling for Kiwis to grill tourists about their plans and preparedness following the death of a foreign tramper on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing last week.

Taupo police senior constable Barry Shepherd said all Kiwis need to “step up and help by reaching out and talking to our visitors” to ensure they get the message about safety in the outdoors.

“Ask them their plans, tell them about the New Zealand weather, what cold really means here, what rain really means here,” Shepherd said.

“Tell them that jeans are not acceptable in any hiking situation. Let them know a torch can help save their lives.

“If we all take the time to reach out, tell them at different points in time, at different places, then maybe safety messages will get through. We have a collective responsibility to help care for our visitors. We need our visitors to thrive in our country not just survive.”

It comes eight days after Indian tourist Sateesh Babu Halehally-Chikkanna died on the crossing after becoming separated from the group he was walking with in deteriorating weather.

DOC Tongariro community relations senior advisor Stacey Faire said the experience has had a deep impact on those involved in the rescue.

“The sadness of the tragedy has resonated deeply with rescuers and the burden feels heavier as this fatality could have likely been prevented,” Faire said.

“After such a tragedy, we ask what can we do to prevent this happening again. People talk about duty of care or more warning signs or gates, but it’s well known that people listen to recommendations from other people.”