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Tongariro visitors asked to respect the maunga

The Tongariro Crossing. Image: Tom Lee/Stuff.

A campaign to help visitors stay safe and nurture the special values of Tongariro National Park, one of the country’s most popular summer visitor experiences has been launched

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

The campaign focuses 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,” says Conservation Minister Kiri Allan.

“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”.

DOC has made significant investments into maintaining 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 8 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 Allan.

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

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