The Tongariro Alpine Crossing has been identified as a 'hotspot' for safety concerns which a new advisory group hopes to address.

The group was announced by the Mountain Safety Council today as it began seeking expressions of interest for people to become members.

The council said the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (TAC) had the highest recorded Search and Rescue incidents per year for any trip in New Zealand.

The crossing also has high-risk potential for severe weather events combined with the significant number of under-prepared walkers.


"The purpose of the advisory group is to utilise insights to identify what is causing people to experience safety issues and to use their expertise to develop specific targeted interventions that aim to reduce the number of safety incidents on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing," the council said in its announcement.

Mountain Safety Council's chief executive Mike Daisley said critical analysis of the incident data would enable the advisory group to make informed decisions about interventions.

"Using an evidence-based approach, actual knowledge of safety issues, ensures we're focusing our collective prevention resources on topics that need to be solved, rather than what we think needs solving.

"This approach will enable us to make the greatest difference to reducing incidents in the outdoors"

"The 'issue specific' process allows us to bring together a range of people who can contribute their expertise to help develop targeted solutions," he said.

There have been concerns raised earlier this year some shuttle operators had been dropping tourists unprepared and in bad weather at the crossing.

The Department of Conservation has given its backing to the advisory group and says it looked forward to collaborating on solutions to improve visitor safety to the area.

Bubs Smith from Ngāti Hikairo has also welcomed Mountain Safety Council's decision.

"As kaitiaki [guardians] of our ancestral lands, part of that role is to ensure the safety of manuhiri [visitors] whilst within Tongariro National Park and the surrounds," he said.

"Ngāti Hikairo welcomes MSC and are looking forward to the collaborative work to address the adequate preparation of visitors before entering this often harsh environment. We want to ensure manuhiri leave this place safely with lasting memories".

Senior Constable Barry Shepherd said the decision to tackle safety issues at Tongariro with an evidence-based lens would give them a good chance to address the rising number of search and rescue callouts.

"As a long-time member of a SAR Co-ordinating Authority in this country and a rescue helicopter crew that has picked up many injured hikers off the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, I welcome this truly prevention focused initiative.

"I fully support the implementation of an independent expert advisory group led by the Mountain Safety Council."