Yesterday we went for a walk along the Tongariro River Trail to guage the popularity of the track. We hoped to illustrate the most popular recreational activity in Turangi at Easter. In ten or so years since the biking/walking trail was linked up to provide a loop track, we have never seen so many tourists enjoying it. The fine weather over Easter weekend encourged everyone outdoors.
There were many walkers and anglers as well but the bikers dominated the trail. On Taupahi Domain the Easter petanque tournament attracted a good following as well.
A few years ago TRM bought in a stack of bikes for inmates to use on the trail. Now we have to admit they are hardly used at all. Why? We were wondering about that too. The pattern has been that once tourist guests are introduced to the Tongariro River Trail their enthusiasm is confirmed by them investing in their own bikes. They are usually of a much higher specification than our old motel hire bikes. It is great to see so many families set up for a family trip that is suitable for all ages.
The lack of signage on the TRB (True Right Bank looking downriver) was again commented on. This Tongariro River Trail desperately needs information boards to advise the hoards of tourists of the history of some of the pools. These are of interest to more than just anglers as the signs give them bikers a legitimate excuse to sneak in a rest stop to read up about the history along the trail.
Distance markers are also needed. These can be low-cost by using simple plastic road markers which add so much to the experience to know how far they have ridden and how far to the next bridge or toilet, etc.
There is so much interesting history along the Tongariro River. The names of the pools alone date back over 100 years and deserve elaboration. i.e. Who was Major Jones? Where is “The Sly Grog Pool”? What is “Cattle Rustlers Pool” all about? Who was the “Admiral’s Pool” named after? Who was the Duchess? Where did the Queen’s Mother fish in 1927, followed by the Queen, followed by Prince Charles? Genesis, the hydro power company that redirect about half the original flow out of the Tongariro River via canals to Lake Rotoaira, should erect signs to stress the importance of this river to feed many more power stations down the Waikato River. Tuwharetoa deserves a huge sign to advise of their historic connections with the river and to explain why they oppose the bike trail to Taupo. etc. But good things take time…
TRM tried to kick-start tourist signage boards by offering to donate $1,000 towards Tongariro River Trail information boards, from the proceeds of book sales of TONGARIRO Skulduggery – only available from TRM reception.
It is revealing to hear from inmates about the book. i.e. On Sunday a guest confessed that even after being dead tired from walking the Tongariro Crossing, she could not put it down. The plot was so fascinating to make her stay up half the night to finish the book before they departed. That is the true tick of approval for a novice author. She confessed the next morning, when we were interrogated and she peppered SWMBO with her list of questions, (She Who Must Be Obeyed is the Manager of everything except the book at TRM) to try to sort out the facts from the fiction. Fishermen traditionally never let the facts spoil a good story. And she was not even interested in trout fishing…