Tongariro gets taken too lightly
Rescuers say many trampers are underestimating the challenge that the Tongariro Crossing presents.
In the latest of many rescues on the mountain, trampers became separated from each other before a blizzard set in. Rescuers did not reach the group until 2.45am on Sunday morning.
Earlier in the day two trampers in the four-strong group went ahead to Oturere Hut, leaving another couple behind because one of them was having trouble with their crampons.
The slower couple then lost their way to the hut after walking for three hours. They phoned police at 8.40pm.
Senior constable Barry Shepherd said the trampers from Auckland made a late start on the crossing and were generally well prepared.
‘‘It’s easy to speed ahead if you’re experienced but tramping groups should always accommodate the abilities of the slowest member of the group, not their own.
‘‘If you start together, finish together.’’
Police were also contacted by the pair who went ahead, after becoming concerned for their friends’ safety.
They then went back and found them, carrying one woman back to the hut because she was suffering from hypothermia.
Shepherd said their main concern with the planning of the group’s trip was the timing.
‘‘They didn’t get to the top of Tongariro until 5pm when it was almost dark due to their late start.
‘‘Then when they got in trouble they didn’t call for help until it was dark and one tramper was unable to walk.
‘‘We’d hope people would call for help sooner.’’
LANDSAR volunteers reached the group, who were now at the hut, at 2.45am.
The group had adequate food, drink and clothing but it got wet because it was not packed in waterproof packaging.
Senior constable Barry Shepherd said people seem to underestimate the challenge of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
‘‘New Zealand’s outdoor life is beautiful and exciting but unfortunately it can be extremely unforgiving.
‘‘Trampers should give themselves more than enough time to make it to their destination and to turn back to the starting point if necessary.’’
Police urge trampers to plan their trip carefully.
JULY 18: State Highway 4 was blocked by a fallen tree. Four cattle on State Highway 4 were put back in their paddock. A domestic incident was attended.
JULY 19: Police assisted ambulance with a male who put his hand through a window. A drunk male acting suspiciously was taken home. A domestic incident was attended.
JULY 20: A male driving himself to hospital passed out and hit a power pole. Four people were treated for injuries in National Park when a car turning on State Highway 48 was hit by an overtaking car.
JULY 21: The driver of a vehicle that crashed on Bell Rd was taken to Waikato Hospital. A female was processed for drink driving and found to be almost four times over the legal limit. A wandering cow died after being hit by a vehicle and the weather caused numerous small slips on roads around the region.
JULY 23: A drunk male causing problems was brought back to the station to sober up.
Taumarunui Police can be contacted on 07 8958119 or anonymously via Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
Rescuers find four trampers at Oturere Hu on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.