Thank you for the feedback on the Tongariro Crossing issues. TRM’s last post yesterday was all about a tourist who was surprised when he discovered he would be sharing the Tongariro Crossing with thousands of others. To keep him happy SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed manages everything here) sent him on (and guide) an alternative secluded bush walk. He was not alone as we hear the same story so often as tourist offices fail to warn about the crowding and delays on NZ’s most popular one day tramp. But there are several good alternative options in the National Park which they never hear about.
Perhaps we should have posted this at the start of the summer season but we (mistakenly?) hoped by now the message had got out. So better late than never. Now the mountain temperatures are rapidly falling it may be more timely. One of the more responsible local shuttle bus operators, Ruapehu Scenic Shuttles, confirmed our worst fears – that there could have been somewhere between 4-5000 up there on Easter Friday. So much for an alpine walk in the wilderness?.
The images from previous years illustrate what tourists might expect during popular holiday periods or on long weekends. Simply, it is ridiculous. They complain that the promotional material for the Tongariro Crossing does not warn them adequately. Most walkers have little idea of what a 20 km alpine walk requires in terms of personal endurance
Whenever tourists book into TRM intending to walk the crossing our first drill is to show them an old battered copy of Wilderness magazine dated November 2006 – now over 12 years old. Their image of the Tongariro Crossing shows a row of ants in an endless queue.
So at least our inmates are warned of what they could be in for. Tourists do not believe that the numbers have over doubled or trebled since then. That is why we warn them and suggest other alternatives.
Our recommended alternative is a combo of the Taranaki Falls loop walk from Whakapapa (2 hours), the circuit of a hidden Lake Rotopounamu (2 hours) followed by the Tongariro River Trail loop walks (1-2 hours or between 3 or 13 km.) which can be accessed from their motel room. Then if the weather deteriorates or their fitness is not up to it they can retire at any stage.
For those determined to tick that box on their bucket list, then plan for a weekday when the crowding is reduced and make sure you have ordered fine weather. TRM produced a short video about five years ago to try to demonstrate how quickly the weather can deteriorate at that higher altitude above the snow line – well that was our good intention but it may have turned into more of a “Girls just want to have fun” type video.