Police warn preparation essential
Four hikers who set off to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Monday were wearing only hoodies, sweat pants and running shoes, police say.
Senior Constable Barry Shepherd of Taupo¯ Police says although the men also had beanies and gloves, they were useless when wet and weather conditions on Mt Tongariro on Monday were very poor.
A 53-year-old Indian tourist, whose body was found on Tuesday was originally part of a group of four, which split up at the bush edge above Ketetahi Carpark. Mr Shepherd said there were many unanswered questions including why three of the group left their companion behind, and why they had started at the Ketetahi end of the Crossing, a much longer climb to the summit than the usual starting point at the Mangatepopo Valley.
After splitting up at the bush edge above Ketetahi carpark, the group of three had continued on to Emerald Lakes but the weather was so bad that they abandoned their original plan to hike to Mangatepopo and instead headed down the mountain to turere Hut. They rang police saying they were cold and wet.
They walked to Waihohonu Hut, near the Desert Rd where they were met by a Tu¯rangi Land Search and Rescue group and taken back to Ketetahi carpark. The missing man’s wife alerted police that her husband had not arrived. His body was discovered late Tuesday morning on the descent between Red Crater and South Crater on Mt Tongariro. Conditions on the mountain were still so bad that the searchers were cold and being blown off their feet.
Mr Shepherd said it was a tragic outcome. People considering¯Ohiking the Crossing needed to be prepared, check the weather and stay together.
Nga¯ti Hikairo kaumatua Te Ngaehe Wanikau (right) says a karakia at Mt Tongariro. He is flanked by Senior Constable Barry Shepherd and members of LandSAR and Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation.