Monday, July 15, 2024

Campaign to protect and respect Tongariro

A campaign to help visitors stay safe and nurture the special values of Tongariro National Park will be launched today by Conservation Minister, Kiri Allan. 

Aligned with the Tiaki Promise and led by Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro and the Department of Conservation (DOC), the campaign builds understanding of the unique culture, nature and weather of Tongariro.

Ms Allan said the campaign will focus on key areas of visitor behaviour, including cultural respect, safety and preparedness, and removing all waste. 

“Tongariro is a sacred site, our first national park, a dual World Heritage Area for its cultural and natural values, and a drawcard for around a million visitors each year,” Minister Allan said.

“It’s vital that we respect and protect this place in everything we do. Generally, people know about Tongariro’s amazing hikes and volcanic landscape, but understand less about the cultural values here and why visitors are asked to respect these”. 

She said DOC had made significant investments to maintain visitor and heritage assets in Tongariro National Park to keep people safe, protect the environment and ensure high-quality visitor experiences.

DOC facilities in the park include 175km of tracks, 32 backcountry toilets and eight huts. Each year DOC supplies 40 tonnes of hut firewood and removes over 100 tonnes of sewage from the park. 

In 2019/20, 122,200 people undertook the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Day Hike, with around 25% of these domestic visitors. 

Even with border restrictions in place, DOC is anticipating high volumes of visitors to the park this summer, particularly during the holidays and weekends.

DOC’s booking system data shows that there has been a 75% increase in the number of New Zealanders booking the Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk this year. Winter use of the popular Taranaki Falls Track was up 21% in 2020 compared to 2019.

“This campaign is about helping to build understanding and respect, so when we welcome international visitors back to New Zealand, Kiwis are leading by example,” says Minister Allan. 

“Our message for every visitor is simple, please respect the maunga.” 

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