Po­lice warn prepa­ra­tion es­sen­tial

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News - Lau­rilee McMichael

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.

Photo / Ruapehu Alpine Res­cue

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.

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