Rāhui are a matter of cultural respect and visitors to a popular Tongariro track have shown appropriate regard for them, Tongariro National Park operations manager Connie Norgate says.

A rāhui that closed the Tongariro Alpine Crossing after the death of a walker was lifted at 7am on January 13, Norgate said.

It was placed by Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro after German walker Gerd Wilde died near the first summit of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on January 10. The 75-year-old was in the final stages of prostate cancer and on a trip with his son, Simon Wilde.

The placing of the rāhui was a moving ceremony, Simon Wilde said. He was overwhelmed that the popular crossing was closed for three days out of respect.

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Rāhui, restrictions on an area or activity, are placed by iwi with connections to the place. They are a matter of cultural respect and visitors are asked to observe them, Norgate said.

They have been relatively common in Tongariro National Park.

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Rāhui were placed on the crossing in November 2018 and October 2019, in similar circumstances, she said.

There were also rāhui during the eruption of the Te Maari craters - from October 2012 until November 2015. The Old Coach Rd was closed by a rāhui in May 2019, and the Ruapehu Crater area was closed in October 2017 and September 2018.

People visiting or intending to visit the park are told about rāhui by Conservation Department staff at visitor centres, or by tour operators.

Closing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing affects trampers on the Northern Circuit, a New Zealand Great Walk that takes three or four days. The circuit includes part of a day on the crossing.


People already walking the circuit were told of the rāhui by hut wardens, and offered alternatives. People who had booked the circuit but not yet started it were offered refunds.

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"Some got refunds, most were happy to do an alternative, all were accommodating and respectful," Norgate said.