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Police warn Tongariro walkers after spate of rescues

Walkers head into mist on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing during Labour Weekend. Photo: George Driver

Police are again warning people of the dangers of walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing after 11 people were rescued from Tongariro National Park in recent weeks.

Police rescued nine people within Tongariro National Park over Easter Weekend, including a group of six adults and a two-year-old child. When the group was found, some were suffering from hypothermia, and rescuers thought they would have died if they were not rescued.

A further two people were rescued last weekend.

Taupo senior constable Barry Shepherd said the forecast cold snap would cause further rescues on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing if visitors don’t prepare or plan their hiking trips.

“The crossing is not a casual walk in the park – it is an alpine crossing in a volcanic environment that requires a high level of fitness and understanding of weather conditions,” Shepherd said.

“You need to plan and prepare for alpine hikes.”

Shepherd called on tourists to avoid walking the crossing during wet or cold whether.

“If the weather is not favourable, do another activity, don’t risk your life.

“If it’s raining and cloudy down low, it is likely that the scenic views will be obstructed, and it will be wetter and even colder at altitude – it’s not fun hiking in cold wet conditions and there are often much safer and still enjoyable alternatives, which can be recommended by i-site or DOC visitor centres.”

It’s the second time this year police have issued a warning about the crossing. In January, Shepherd also urged walkers to be better prepared for the TAC after six people were rescued from the crossing in a week.