The Department of Conservation (DOC) is introducing a free booking system for the upcoming Tongariro Alpine Crossing season and is encouraging all visitors to book in advance.
The system is now live for bookings from 14 October onwards.
Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro and DOC want to ensure the experience of walking the Crossing protects the fragile environment, respects the cultural significance of the area, and is safe and sustainable, said DOC Director Heritage and Visitors, Catherine Wilson.
She said visitor numbers on the Crossing were putting consistent pressure on the conservation and cultural values of the area, as well as infrastructure.
“DOC will be making changes to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the coming years, aiming to better manage the pressures and strengthening cultural and heritage values of the area.”
“By proactively managing the challenges facing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealanders will help protect Tongariro for future generations.
“Bookings from the season will inform the management of the Crossing and visitor information and feedback will help us shape future improvements,” says Ms Wilson.
Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro spokesperson, Te Ngaehe Wanikau said the spiritual, cultural and physical wellbeing of the maunga and its environment were paramount.
“Everything else fits into that. Our enduring advocacy is that rangatiratanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and the associate tikanga of Manaaki Tangata Manaaki Whenua will be reflected in the physical application in management and operations,” he said.
“Any action or activity within the area will be based firmly in these values.”
Tongariro National Park has Dual World Heritage status for its cultural and natural heritage values.
Although bookings are highly encouraged, they are not compulsory. Visitors who turn up at the Crossing without a booking will not be penalised, DOC says.
Visitors who have a Tongariro Northern Circuit hut or campsite booking are exempt from booking through the new system.