This is aimed at all tourists intending to walk the Tongariro Crossing…
Fatal hike: Four men ill-prepared for Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Four hikers who set off to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Monday were wearing only hoodies, sweat pants and running shoes, police say.
One of the party was later found dead. Police named the man as Sateesh Babu Halehally-Chikkanna of Bangalore, India.
Senior Constable Barry Shepherd of Taupo Police says although the men also had beanies and gloves, they were useless when wet and weather conditions on Mt Tongariro on Monday were poor.
He said there were many unanswered questions including why three of the group, two aged in their 20s and the other man in his 50s, had left their 53-year-old companion behind, and why they had started at the Ketetahi end of the crossing, which requires a much longer climb to the summit than the usual starting point at the Mangatepopo Valley.
Shepherd said the group were told they had two options: Stay in the hut or walk out to the Desert Rd. They walked to Waihohonu Hut, near the Desert Rd, where they were met by a Turangi Land Search and Rescue group and taken back to Ketetahi carpark. It was then that Halehally-Chikkanna’s wife alerted police that her husband had not arrived.
Halehally-Chikkanna’s body was discovered late yesterday morning on the descent between Red Crater and South Crater on Mt Tongariro. Conditions on the mountain were still so bad yesterday that the searchers were cold and being blown off their feet.
Shepherd said it was a tragic outcome and very, very sad.
“The word ‘Alpine’ was added a few years back to what we know as the ‘Tongariro Alpine Crossing’ for a reason.
“Many people may not know there is still deep snow on the ground in many places as well as potential avalanche paths in this region,” Daisley said.
“We’re working with police and with the coroner’s office in due course to ascertain exactly how and why this group got separated.
“People who get separated from their group make up a mere 5 per cent of the total tramping fatalities in the last 10 years. Hypothermia contributed 6 of the 57 fatalities during that period,” Daisley said.
The tragic death appeared to be preventable and should be a stark reminder to people explore the alpine regions of New Zealand that when things go wrong in that kind of environment “the consequences are often very high”.
“If this had happened at lower altitude there would have been a higher chance of surviving this ‘unexpected night out’. Sadly, his family and friends are now grieving,” he said.
Senior Constable Barry Shepherd said police had four key messages for anybody thinking of doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing:
1. Wear appropriate clothing.
2. Keep an eye on the weather.
3. Stick together.
4. Be prepared to turn back.