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Five rescued on Tongariro crossing – challenges under-estimated

News from NZ Police
Five people have been rescued on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the last six days – all had underestimated the challenges of walking in an alpine environment.

Yesterday evening, two people were rescued from the summit of Red Crater which is the mid-point on the Alpine Crossing. Two 18-year-old men, one from Auckland and the other from South Africa, were in a group of four doing the Northern Circuit when they were overcome by exhaustion and cold. Thick low cloud meant the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter from Taupo was unable to fly to them, and a four-person LandSAR team from Turangi was mobilised. The team was flown in as far as possible up the Oturere Valley and continued on foot to find the men huddled in cloud at 1868m above sea level at the summit. They received first aid and were assisted down to the Oturere Valley. The cloud prevented any helicopter evacuation, so the rescuers walked out to the Desert Road then drove home, while the trampers spent the night at Oturere Hut.

On Sunday, a 74-year-old Finnish woman was hiking alone on the track and called for help when she was so exhausted she could not walk any further. Her shuttle bus driver walked up the track and found her 2.5 km from the end. Police were notified and a four-person LandSAR team from Turangi was deployed with a stretcher. The team located the bus driver and the woman. She was carried out on a stretcher and met by St John Paramedics. The woman was checked and able to leave with her husband needing no medical treatment.

On the evening of Thursday the 11th, a 43-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter from Wellington were reported overdue on the Alpine Crossing. They had started the hike at 10am but by 9.30pm had not arrived at the track end. Police were alerted by worried parents and friends calling for assistance. Fortunately a trio of women on the track had come across the pair and chaperoned them to the finish at 11.30pm.

Tongariro is an alpine environment, so people need a good level of physical fitness and endurance if they are planning on hiking the Crossing. It can take at least eight hours, has steep climbs and frequently changing weather. Wear hiking boots, take plenty of food and clothing, bring a hat for hot and cold weather and a torch is essential. Make sure you are finished before sunset as it’s no fun hiking a mountain in the dark if you’ve not planned for it.

The 19km Tongariro Alpine Crossing attracts people from all over the world and is a memorable achievement; local Police, LandSAR, Department of Conservation and Iwi encourage people to attempt the crossing with some thought, preparation and respect.