With New Zealand moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 on Thursday 14 May, DOC Tongariro Operations Manager Connie Norgate says visitors should plan and prepare for changing winter conditions.
“As we move into the winter under Alert Level 2, it’s even more important for visitors to be safe and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19,” she says.
“We’ve already had a couple of big dumps of snow in Tongariro National Park. Hikers should be prepared with warm and waterproof clothing, sturdy footwear and always check the MetService forecast before their trip.”
Conditions on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing are changing fast. Sub-zero temperatures, ice and early season snow may be present on the track.
DOC recommends visitors carefully consider the conditions and contact the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre if they need advice.
“As winter conditions become established, alpine skills and equipment will soon be essential to safely hike the track. If visitors are not experienced and equipped for this, we recommend using a local guiding company or consider alternative tracks” says Connie Norgate.
Senior Constable Barry Shepherd of Taupō Police says with temperatures dropping and daylight hours reducing, the consequences of incidents on the track are much greater.
“At this time of year, it’s often difficult to get helicopters to the scene of incidents, and rescues can become protracted efforts that not only pose a serious risk to those who require assistance but also to the rescuers who volunteer to assist,” says Constable Shepherd.
Under Alert Level 2 DOC will re-open all huts, campsites, toilets and the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre. Huts have already been transferred to winter mode with reduced facilities and no Hut Rangers present.
DOC asks visitors to take responsibility for their own health and hygiene:
- Bring and use your own cleaning equipment to shared facilities.
- Practice physical distancing of 2 metres.
- A maximum of 10 people are allowed in any hut. Bring a tent and be equipped to camp in sub-alpine conditions if you need to use it.
- Trace your own contacts and fill in hut books.