Eruption redesigns tour route

By Laurilee McMichael


Tourism operators running tours on Mt Tongariro have been forced to diversify as the closure of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing stretches into its third week.

With the crossing closed for safety reasons, the two major companies operating guided tours and transport on Mt Tongariro have come up with new offerings to stay afloat.

Tongariro Expeditions has secured access across private land to the base of Ketetahi Springs, where visitors can see the new crater created by Mt Tongariro's August 8 eruption.

Adrift Outdoors is taking all visitors booked for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing up to Mt Ruapehu's crater lake as a substitute.

Jared Thomas of Tongariro Expeditions says his company has secured exclusive access onto the mountain through private land which takes trampers to the closest viewing point to the volcanic activity, just outside the 3km exclusion zone around the new crater.

"When you're there, you're looking straight into the new crater so you get views of Otamangakau, Rotoaira, Pihanga and the Kaimanawas," he says.

The five-hour round trip from Taupo had kept those clients happy who just wanted to get onto the mountain. However, he hoped the main track would reopen soon.

Turangi i-SITE Visitor Centre consultant Christine Dally says the centre is directing visitors to other good walks in the area.

Adrift Outdoors owner Stewart Barclay says all clients who were booked to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing had been rebooked onto guided tramps to Mt Ruapehu's crater lake, which is proving popular. The alternative was to offer them a guided trip around the Whakapapa Crag exploring the different areas on Mt Ruapehu.

He says the Conservation Department have indicated that when it is safe, it will reopen the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in stages.


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