Tongariro Times April 2013

Tongariro Times April 2013

T42 - Saturday 4 May 2013 - Marshalls Required

If you are planning on being in the area on the weekend of 4th May and want to get involved, we could use your help.  We are providing marshalls for the T42 event. This is a great fundraising opportunity for us. 

If you are keen to help out here, please email Nina on asap.

Based around the famous and iconic 42 Traverse track, the T42 offers the following event options:

  • 48km Mountain Bike

  • 42.2km Trail Marathon Run

  • 24km Trail Adventure Run / Walk

  • 11km Trail Run / Walk

  • 6.5km Trail Run / Walk

Check out to find out more or to enter this amazing event.

Bridge to Nowhere - Joint Project Tongariro and Bike Taupo Expedition March 2013
by Mark Davies

Well, where does one start with a trip report such as this? Adventure, challenge and excitement was the promise on the trip menu including good company, fine food and some fun interwoven with a great landscape. Little did the innocent 16 intrepid members know what the weekend was about to bring and how the menu was going to change from an a la carte (you get to choose) to a smorgasbord (its just laid out in front of you, no choice) experience.

The weekend began well with the 16 explorers gathering in the deep remote valley of Whakahoro down the Ruatītī Road. We all made it to the starting position. A feat in it self. It’s a bit of a drive mainly on single off SH 4 in from Owhango. The destination was the Blue Duck and Pine Cone Lodges. These are part of the Blue Duck Station and the starting point for the a la carte experience of either biking the Mangapurua Valley track, or kayaking down the Whanganui River, to the Bridge to Nowhere, taking the jet boating back to Whakahoro for dinner. What could be better.

Friday night the group dined together on the deck and listened to kiwi and cuckoo calls while the lit-up house filled up with lots of bugs!

Saturday morning dawned fine. Ten keen mountain bikers and six keen kayakers started the day with a coffee (standing orders) and briefing from Master Chief, Dan Steele. By 9.00am we were off. The ten bikers headed up the Kaiwhakauka Valley on the new Mountains to the Sea Cycleway. The track has an easy start for a few kilometers - over rolling farmland - then gets to the Whanganui National Park boundary and changes into a single track, a few tight corners and steep pinches though superb forest. A few kilometers in on the single track a small incident occured with one biker who went over the handlebars and a bit of blood which later reduced the biking team to nine (an omen one would think later).

By lunch time and after 14 km and a steep climb up to the Mangapurua Trig the nine bikers topped out to great views of the valley and back towards Tongariro and Ruapehu. A quick descent into the valley and lunch saw us all enjoying the great track and fun riding along the valley floor.

Lots of other groups were enjoying the track as well and over 70 people were counted during the morning and lunch stops. A small incident with a biker in another group preoccupied Mark and Pete for an hour or so and by the time they caught back up to the intrepid group at the world-renowned ‘”Battle Ship Bluff”” the mood of the trip changed dramatically. Our intrepid companion Kiri (Project Tongariro Coordinator) had a terrible fall off her bike and over the edge of the bluff and down to the river below. This was a 100 + meter fall. Kiri was very lucky to survive. She was badly injured with concussion, a neck fracture, broken finger, chipped bone on her ankle and a full suite of cuts and bruises. The team moved into first-aid and rescue mode. There was a great effort from George and a couple of other bikers from another group who were rafting guides and first aiders. Mark and Pete headed out to the bridge to get communications out for a rescue helicopter. Four hours later Kiri was in Whanganui Hospital and being assessed. Fortunately because she is a Manning (being a Manning is a bit like having nine lives) and young and tough she is recovering well but it will take a while to get her back on a mountain bike.

The six kayakers had a great morning on the river and got to the pick up point early afternoon. The kayaks were beached high up and the jet boat took the party to the Landing where they walked to the Bridge to Nowhere by mid-afternoon where theywere told the news of the accident. The remaining bikers and kayakers joined up and jet boated back to Whakahoro in a somber mood.

The catering team launched into the kitchen and whipped up a beautiful dinner of barbecued ham with lots of salads and cake to follow. The rescue team arrived back after dark after a huge day. Everyone enjoyed dinner and a few wines to finish off the day.

Debrief the next morning over a great breakfast of eggs and bacon.

All our best wishes and thoughts go to Kiri for her recovery.


Kiri's bumps, bruises and scrapes are all mending well. However, she needs to wear the neck brace for another month and is still feeling the effects from the concussion.  It looks as though she will be able to return to work for a couple of hours a week which she is pleased about but we will all have to keep an eye on her to make sure doesn't overdo it.  In the meantime, Paul, Nina and Kim have taken over her work load and can be contacted via or 027 628 8009 for any Project Tongariro matters.

The boys were very sorry to hear about Kiri's Dad's bike (it stayed put at the bottom of 'Battleship Bluff') and so they had a fundraiser to purchase the Mannings a new, safer bike, trainer wheels optional!

Our thoughts are also with Nank [John Nankervis] our long term hon solicitor as he faces a huge battle to recover his health following a major climbing accident. Nank has has been a guiding influence since our inception nearly 30 years ago.


$30,000 raised at the Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary NZPGA Charity Golf Tournament

Restoring Rotopounamu and Greening Taupo projects are financially better off following the 14th annual NZPGA Senior Charity Championship held recently at the Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary.

The three-day NZPGA event and auction helped raise $60,000 which has been split evenly between Project Tongariro and the NZ Men’s Health Trust.  Project Tongariro is really pleased to have been involved in the event and we are most grateful to Gary Lane and the Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary.

Auctioneer John Hart encouraged golfers to bid generously for a range of unique experiences on offer, including some unique conservation adventures.  Funds were also raised through the bidding for pro golfers throughout the tournament

Over the two years, the tournament has raised $80,000 for Project Tongariro. These funds are being used to support the Restoring Rotopounamu project, now in its 10th year of operation and Greening Taupo, a new project which is set to be launched during the upcoming winter school holiday.

In addition, the event saw the release of another kiwi into the Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary.  The 180-hectare pest-free property has been home to several juvenile kiwi over the last 12 months kiwi live there until they are a safe weight, around 1kg, at which time they are released back into their native habitat.  Image: Ngati Hikairo Representative Bubs Smith, DOC Ranger Renee Potae, Gary Lane and Nigel Lloyd from Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary and DOC kiwi handler Jeremy Guillotell at the release of the kiwi into the sanctuary during the tournament.

Project Tongariro is very thankful to DOC and the following contributing sponsors who are supporting the charity auction experiences.

Chateau Tongariro, Mountain Air, Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter,  Rotorua Canopy Tours, Tongariro Lodge, Tui Lodge, Tongariro River Rafting, Wairakei Resort.


2013 Memorial Awards

Project Tongariro's Memorial Award was established by the society in memory of Keith Maurice Blumhardt, William Edward Cooper, Douglas Neal McKenzie, Derek Ian White and Marie Pauline Williams, who died on Mt Ruapehu while testing helicopter rescue equipment on 9 December 1982.

The award is open to any applicant for study – for fauna, flora, geology, volcanology, weather and natural and human history of Tongariro National Park.

Since the inaugural award in 1991, 41 young researchers have benefited from these awards, enabling a wide range of research to be done withinTNP, from heather, to bats, skinks, kiwi, stoats, to visitor stats, geology, lahars, botany and climate, an amazing legacy.  Have a look at the past recipients and their projects here.

The amount of the award shall be determined annually by the executive (originally up to $1000 but since 2002, up to $2000 as long as the society is in a position to fund the awards). Applications for the memorial awards are accepted up until the end of June each year and are considered at the first executive committee meeting of the new financial year (usually in July/August).  The society’s executive seeks independent advice from a representative with an overview of science in the Turangi/Tongariro Conservancy (Dr Harry Keys has assisted with this review since the awards began and continues to do so).  Applicants will be advised of the executive committee's decision by August 31 and the awards are announced publically at the annual DOC Conservation Awards.
Recipients of awards are required to provide a photo and short resume suitable for publication by the society.  Recipients are also asked to acknowledge the society where possible I for example, a research publication such as a thesis. All recipients agree to send a copy of their work, including a thesis, to Project Tongariro and are encouraged to contribute a short article to the annual Tongariro Journal.

Note if no applicants meet the required standards in a particular year, an award will not be made.

Please contact Project Tongariro for more info and to apply.


Your chance to purchase a limited edition book: 
‘Recollections of Ruapehu - Tongariro National Park in the 1950s’.

Project Tongariro supporter Ralph Harris from Sydney has generously donated 16 copies of a book he wrote and self-published in 2011 called “Recollections of Ruapehu – Tongariro National Park in the 1950s".

Ralph was assistant park ranger based at Whakapapa from the mid 50s. Delightful tales mention legendary characters including Tom Shout, Shorty Clearkin, Bill Bridge and others.

Ralph’s boss, chief ranger Alex Salmon, always wore a fedora, one for work and one for going to town. Alex was a tireless worker who was personally responsible for building many original tracks such as the one from the Chateau to the Mangatepopo Valley (Salmon’s Track), the first bridge across the Whakapapaiti River and also the first hut in the valley. He also built a track to the top of Hauhungatahi using the tools of the day - a slasher and axe.

Ralph has some great stories from those pre-helicopter days when a pack horse was the only way you could carry a heavy load in the park. One day his packhorse Bob overbalanced and fell off the track, down a steep slope. Without thinking, Ralph adopted the belay stance as taught in rock climbing lessons and luckily for them both it worked!  The horse came to a stop, rolled over onto his belly, then dug his hooves into the slope and eventually regained the track!

Ralph’s learnt to ski at Whakapapa but could not afford a pair of skis on his ranger salary. “I resorted to the Chateau rubbish tip which was about 1 km down the Bruce Road from the Chateau. Practically all skis were wood in those days and when one of the pair of hire skis was broken the other unbroken one was also thrown in the rubbish dump. As the skis were matched pairs there was no point in keeping the unbroken ski. By prowling through the large heap of discarded skis I eventually found two which were near enough to identical. They served me for some years.”

Please go to our website to secure your copy of this limited edition, A4 publication of 74 pages including illustrations. The books are for sale for NZ$25 each including postage with all proceeds going to Project Tongariro’s work in and around the park.

Thanks for the memories Ralph – and thanks so much for your remarkable donation.

Sunset Red Crater Field Trip by Full Moon

Back by popular demand!  This member field trip was such a neat experience last year that we have put it on the calendar again.  If you'd like to experience the sunset from Red Crater and then walk back by full moonlight then make sure you join this trip.  You will definitely feel like you are on top of the world when you watch the sun set and the moon rise from the summit of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

The date of the trip is set for Saturday 27 April with a contingency day of Saturday 25 May.  We will meet at the Mangatepopo Car Park at for departure at 3pm.  We will be guided by a professional guide for this trip and there will be a cost per person for the trip.

This trip is certainly a weather-dependant one so we will be making a decision on whether or not we are going ahead at quite late notice, probably as late as the day before.  So if you plan to join us for this trip please register your interest with with your mobile number so that you can be kept up to date with the plans.

Greening Taupo

Project Tongariro is leading the development and implementation of a new community conservation project, based around Taupo called “Greening Taupo” and intends to officially launch it in winter 2013. The objective is to improve the Taupo environment for people and native wildlife and will involve undertaking restoration planting and pest control to create wildlife corridors and increase native birds. So far the project has gained considerable support from Wairakei and Taupo businesses and the wider community. Businesses and organisations such as Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary, Contact Energy, Wairakei Resort, Huka Honey Hive, Landcorp, Taupo Native Plant Nursery, Taupo District Council and Department of Conservation have already committed to being involved.

Over the coming months further work will be undertaken to develop this project such as developing a brand identity, marketing and funding strategy, designing a website, and consulting with a wider group of interested parties to gain more support. We are aiming to launch the project during the winter school holidays with a collaborative planting event with Contact Energy at Wairakei.

If you would like to be more involved with this project or would like to be specifically included on the Greening Taupo database to keep up to date with progress, please email

Fieldtrip and Volunteer Opportunity 2014 - Boundary Stream, Hawkes Bay

Hand feeding Cook Petrel chicks - March 2014

Hand feeding Mottled Petrel chicks - April 2014

In a ferny grove on top of the Maungaharuru Range an artificial nesting site for Cooks Petrels (classified as vulnerable) is being established. A small predator-proof fence has been completed and artificial nesting boxes are being installed.

In March 2014 Cooks Petrel chicks will be brought from Hauturu Little Barrier Island, their only major nesting area, to this enclosure and hand fed until they fledge. When they fledge the location of their nesting box will be imprinted on them and they will return, after about five years in the East Pacific area, to breed. Ultimately the colony will house 150 nesting boxes and establish another thriving colony of Cooks petrel.

Mottled Petrel are also being transferred from Cod Fish (Whenua a Hou) Island to Boundary Stream in April 2014. Volunteers are also needed to hand feed them.

Accommodation will be provided and the only cost will be your transport and food. Free time will be available each day to explore this beautiful area.

Anyone who would like to be involved for a day, several days or the whole week in March or April 2014 please register your interest with Mary Monzingo -

Turangi Colours Festival and Guided Walk at Rotopounamu
by Kim Manunui

Easter Weekend in Turangi was full of colour and life.  Project Tongariro participated in the Turangi Colours Festival Market Day while Paul Green and Nick Singers did two guided walks at Rotopounamu for people interested in finding out more about the unique ecological significance of the area and the work that Project Tongariro and DOC undertakes there.  It was a neat opportunity to let the local community know what were are up to.

At the market I met Alan Rosoman who is a long-time supporter of Project Tongariro.  He told me about the device called the Audobon Bird Caller which is hand-crafted, made of birch wood, pewter and resin and apparently very effective to call birds.  Alan headed up to Rotopounamu that day, the following is his account of his experience with the bird caller that day.

Tui were present going uphill and on the south side.  Part way up, I heard a call and brought a bird only part way down. It may have been a tit.  When trying to bring the bird down two fantails which I had not heard at all, also responded.  Reminds me of another occasion when I was on the seat at the south end of long beach and I used the device for no particular reason and out popped a tomtit only a metre away. I heard a Bellbird before going down to 5min beach.  I also heard one riroriro and brought this close enough to identify.  On the south side, I had a “chat” with a robin but couldn’t bring it right down. There were a few birds on north side but it was still cool. Heard about 10 kereru in flight in total.

It was also worth noting that the lake was the lowest I have seen it in 44 years of visits.  Something else of interest to note was that late last year I heard frogs in the reed beds on the south side.  I haven’t heard any for years.When the lagoon behind long beach was full we used to.

If you would like to get one of these Audobon Bird Callers I have found them available on IQ Toys NZ website.

Thanks for your story Alan. It is neat to hear of the experiences you have had a Rotopounamu.  If anyone else would like to contribute their unique experiences in and around Tongariro National Park, please feel free to pass them onto

Upcoming activities and events - your chance to get involved!

Sunset Red Crater TripSat 27 April 2013
(25 May Contingency Day)
T42Sat 4 May 2013Te Matapuna Wetland Planting DayMon 3 June 2013


Check out the Tongariro Journals Library - now online 1999 to 2011 Journals. 

Download the Pocket Ranger - the smartpone app that is your guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

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Project Tongariro
PO Box 238 



p: +64 7 386 6499

Posted: Wed 10 Apr 2013

Roel Michels