Mt Tongariro tracks to be reopened

The alert level for Mt Tongariro has been reduced and officials are looking at reopening tracks which have been closed since the mountain's eruption.

Mt Tongariro erupted on August 6, forcing the closure of several tracks on the mountain and the increased activity prompted scientists to increase the alert level to level two. Department of Conservation Ruapehu area manager Nic Peet said with the alert level lowered the hazard and risk zone had also been revised. He said the centre of the eruption was focused on Upper Te Maari crater, reducing the risk area to a 3km radius.

"The 3km hazard and risk zone will remain in place for some time and will only be reduced once we have further information and a better understanding of the gas and ash composition to determine possible future scenario probabilities," Mr Peet said. "We are now planning the staged reopening of facilities and tracks outside the hazard and risk zone."

The Department of Conservation is meeting this week with iwi, members of the community and businesses to discuss the timing and sequence of reopening.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing as a whole will take longer to re-open as facilities and tracks need to be made safe. Mr Peet said DoC staff were unable to get into the area to do the work until the high risk zone was further reduced.

He said planning had also begun for the repair of the damaged tracks and facilities.

All other facilities, activities and alternative walking tracks are fully operational within the Tongariro National Park.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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