An interesting facebook post involved someone who calls himself Didymo Dave having a little rave about the need for local trout fishing guides to include more in their repertoire than just fishing stuff. He particularly mentioned knowledge of the native species in their fishy environment. We tried to reply but lost the connection. Or it may have been blocked? This was in response to a Facebook comment about the lack of any Maori fishing guides who could give the tourist anglers more than just a fishing experience but to include more information from the Maori perspective as well.
TRM are amazed there is not someone providing this already on the Tongariro, or if there is they have not promoted it. The timing is unfortunate just now with covid restricting the numbers of anglers from abroad, although at the time of composing this TRM have five fishos (two men from Melbourne and three ladies from Tassie!) from West Island and one from France (recovering from the Australian rugby result!) in residence.
Maori guides were a feature of the tourist fishing experience at one time – see the photo above of the legendary Zane Grey with his local guide Hoka Downs. Since then in the 1920’s there have been many more situated on the Waitahanui River but more recently they appear to have disappeared? From TRM’s experience in helping tourists select a guide, we know there is a gap in the market and they would be popular.
But what this post is supposed to be about is a better way to educate many more tourists than just the fishing variety on the fauna and environmental issues (like CHECK CLEAN DRY!) by erecting a series of information boards along the Tongariro River Trail. We have been on about this for sometime without any success but are sure it will eventually happen.
Why? Every other bike trail uses attractive tourism information boards to provide an informative commentary along their trails to make them more than just a bike ride, but an informative experience in local history and to enlighten tourists about the environmental issues.
For some more mature bikers, the information boards are always a good excuse to stop for a “breather’. Even if they only describe the native trees on the track with vital information on whether they might be poisonous or any historic medicinal qualities or remedies from their leaves, etc. is fascinating fodder for tourists. The photos of tourist notice boards with tree descriptions and local history are from the Coast to Coast trail up in Kaikohe.
Another very important “gap” not catered for is to provide some local history for tourists. On the Tongariro River Trail the history of some of the “pools” is fascinating. These fishing pools were named about one hundred years ago and most anglers of this generation are not aware of the characters or the reason they were named.
Just the names alone are sufficient to stir up questions. i.e. The Duchess Pool – named after the Queen mother when she was Duchess of York in 1920’s – see photo below – and is where the present Queen has also fished.
TRM have offered $1,000 from book sales to kick it off and DGLT (Destination Great Lake Council are Taupo Councils tourist promotions team) are keen to contribute to make it happen as well. In the meantime the project is waiting for approval from the Government Department that manages the river trail – DOC.
Or the Admirals Pool (which so many believe is named after the Rear Admiral Hickling?) is named after Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Jellicoe, second Governor-General of NZ, 1920-1924. But his personal history of why he was sent to NZ is even more remarkable. Ditto, Rear Admiral Hickling! These stories need to be told.
Then there is the Cattle Rustlers Pool, Sly Grog Pool, Hydro Pool, Gun Club Reach, which beg the question to explain the reason behind the names. Who was Major Jones? Who was Vera?
With flooding on everyone’s mind at the moment, the history of Tongariro floods destroying the swingbridges is of interest, how they were replaced by a flying fox at Red Hut. Or the Bridge Pool flood history deserves some recognition.
Just as important is some of the Maori history of the region. There are many other pioneers who deserve recognition or businesses who need to tell their version of events or inform of their significance in local affairs.
One of the most memorable and largest signs on the Coast to Coast trail was the local Maori tribe explaining how the land was originally “stolen” from them under the Public Works Act for a railway line, but was never returned after the railway closed and was converted into a bike trail. Tourists love that stuff.
I am sure a similar fascinating history could be about how the modern Turangi township was created on the western side of SH1 using the Public Works Act. Or they could use the notice boards to elaborate on why they oppose any bike trail between Toe-paw and Turangi? Tourists love any such controversy.
Another popular bike trail locally is the Timber Trail between the Pureora Forest and Ongarue. The information for tourist bikers adds so much to the experience.
In particular, distance poles are essential to indicate how far to the end… The Tongariro River Trail has been completed for ten years now and tourists are still waiting for similar interesting informative tourist signage boards.