Tongariro Times - May 2012

Tongariro Times May 2012

Final Call for Registration - Ark in the Park Members Field Trip 

Friday night 18th, Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th, May 2012 

Registrations and payment for the Project Tongariro members' field trip to Ark in the Park in the Waitakere Ranges closes on 10th of May.

NB: there have been some minor changes to the programme as a result of a slip on one track and Forest and Bird offering to lead a field trip to a wetland at Te Henga/Bethells Beach.

Any questions should be directed to Mary Monzingo at or 07 378 8636. For more information regarding Ark in the Park see


T42 - This Saturday 5th May 2012

If you are planning on being in the area this weekend and want to get involved, we could use your help.  We are providing marshalls for the T42 event.  Volunteers get lodge-style accommodation and a meal on Friday night, a packed lunch for Saturday as well as a meal on Saturday night. If you are keen to help out here, please email Kiri 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.

Generous Donation from “The Hobbit” production company, Three Foot Seven

Production company Three Foot Seven filmed scenes for The Hobbit films alongside the Mangawhero River, below Turoa Ski Area and on farm land with scattered beech forest around Ohakune this summer.  The company understood the need to take special measures when filming in the fragile world heritage site of Turoa Ski Area.  Great care was taken to meet strict guidelines under the watchful eye of DOC's Mere Mokoraka Programme Manager from Whakapapa and Herwi Scheltus, landscape architect from Turangi.  Extensive scaffolding ramps and platforms were constructed to provide access to the site. Geotextile and rubber mats were laid across fragile alpine vegetation to prevent tracking damage by the many pairs of feet. 

At the end of filming, Three Foot Seven made a generous donation to Project Tongariro to support ongoing conservation work in the park.

Check out the blog of The Hobbit being filmed in Tongariro National Park – When the movie hits the box office keep an eye out for familiar places from our own backyard.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” are productions of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production.  Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories, as well as all international television licensing, being handled by MGM.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will be released December 14th, 2012.  The second film, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” is slated for release the following year, December 13th, 2013.

Bridge to Nowhere Mountain Bike Tour
by Mark Davies

A combined group of Project Tongariro and Serac Ski Club members totalling 16 keen mountain bikers met up on Friday evening at the Serac Ski Club Lodge in Ohakune. It had been a brilliantly fine week so we were all really excited about good weather and track conditions for the coming days ride and adventure.

Saturday morning dawned fine. At 8.00am the shuttle bus arrived, loaded our bikes and off we went to the track beginning down the Ruatiti Valley to the start of the Mangapurua Track. The first hour's ride is a reasonable climb and grade up to the trig (the high point). The team took their time and enjoyed the sun. 

Along the way all the abandoned homestead sites are marked and the history of the valley and its settlers come to life as you ride. The track follows the historic road originally installed to service the two valleys that were settled as part of rehabilitation settlements where land was offered to returned soldiers following World War 1. 

Mid-afternoon we arrived at the Bridge to Nowhere. This simple concrete bridge symbolises a failed attempt at back-country pioneering by a community of returned World War 1 servicemen and their families.

A short ride from the bridge took us to the Whanganui River and the historic Mangapurua landing. We all shared our thoughts and perspectives of the river's significance and history to iwi and New Zealand. It was a real treat to be there and we all felt the special connection to this place.  

The landing was busy.  Over 80 riders were being loaded onto boats. 45 minutes later we were back in Pipiriki after an amazing journey down the river and through a range of gorges and moods of the river.

Dinner, drinks and stories of the day back at Serac Lodge ended a great couple of days.  

Thanks to Ali and Pete Masters for some great images from the trip.


Sunset Red Crater Trip - all I can say is WOW!
by Kim Manunui

Despite a poor long-range forecast for the Easter Weekend, we decided not to pull the pin on the Sunset Red Crater field trip until the very last minute, and boy am I glad we waited because the weather was not only good enough for us to do the full moon trip, it was good enough to make it a fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime experience.  We knew planning this kind of trip would be touch and go as we needed near perfect conditions.  Most of the members who registered for the trip were happy to just wait and see and make a spur-of-the-moment decision to go ahead.  So we waited and the weather came right.  And all those who got to participate are pretty happy they did. 

We left the Mangatepopo car park at about 2pm, planning to make it to the summit in time to watch the sunset and the moon rise around 6pm.  Being Easter weekend, the traffic on the track was pretty high but they were all headed in the opposite direction back to the car park after their full day's tramping.  What was quite assuring was the number of people who were concerned about our late start - showing that fellow trampers do look out for each other out there in the wild.  But once aware of our sunset/moonlight plans, they were happy for us to continue up the track.

The hike to the summit was, as always, a steep climb.  That doesn't change no matter what time of day you hike it, but seeing the Red Crater at dusk (which amplified its deep colours), then watching the sunset over the horizon amongst the mist, and seeing the full moon rise was worth every single step.  The light, shadow and silhouettes were absolutely magnificent - words don't do it justice.

Our esteemed leader, Hogi, was patient the entire way, kept our spirits high and enlightened us with tid bits about the natural geology and history of the area - just quietly, I was particularly thankful for these moments so I could stop and catch my breath.

For me, hiking the track was all the more special on this occasion because it was the first time I had been on location since the development of the Pocket Ranger app and the placement of the QR codes on route which, when scanned, act as bookmarks in the app.  So if you haven't got a Hogi with you on the TA Crossing, you can still have the landscape interpreted through the app.  What was exciting for me was seeing the Pocket Ranger come to life and seeing the real live potential of the project.  I made sure to get the photo opp of me scanning a QR Code!

This was definitely a trip that was one out of the box and if all the stars are aligned (including weather, full moon, guide, daylight savings, gear etc) and you ever have the opportunity to make this trek, I recommend you take it up.

Joining us on the trip was Fraser Crichton, who is a freelance photographic journalist.  He has recently become a great supporter of Project Tongariro.  Visit his website here

Fraser, along with Karen Williams, Hakan Svensson (Hogi) and I, got some great images from the trip.

Alto Packaging Donates Root Trainers
by Shirley Potter

Nick Singers and Shirley Potter are currently working on a plan for the Project Tongariro nursery to ensure we are able to supply plants for the Te Matapuna Wetland restoration project.  As the willows die we will be planting with locally sourced natives grown from seed.  The first lot of seeds are being collected at present.  In order to grow the seedlings on we require root trainers.  A call to Alto Packaging in Napier to enquire about prices resulted in them offering to gift Project Tongariro in their next production run, a result you can only dream of!

True to their word, the following week Kiri was greeted with two rather large boxes containing 500 Hillson and 500 Tinus root trainers, as promised.  This generous donation means that all the seedlings in our nursery can be potted up and we are ready for the next lot of seedlings. The wetland restoration will require around 1500 plants each year.  We have been given the opportunity to supply 300 - 500 endangered native plants to Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary.   Hopefully this will generate sufficient income to enable the nursery to be self-funding in the future.

We will plan potting days on our calendar so all you keen green-fingered volunteers can help us with this valuable work.  You may even learn a few neat tips from Nick who has a vast knowledge on our native flora.

Mariana's kiwi experience

The following is a description (in her own words) about Mariana's kiwi experience that she 'won' at the recent Wairakei NZPGA Senior Golf Tournament where $50,000 was raised and donated to Project Tongariro. 

"Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to assist a DOC ranger with changing a transmitter on a kiwi that they are tracking in the Tongariro forest. 

What an experience! 

After an exhilarating quad bike and a 90-minute walk through the beautiful forest, we found the burrow of Rocket the kiwi.  Snuggled up with Rocket, (having a date night I think), was a wild female kiwi, who I have nick named Canoodle.  We changed Rocket's transmitter and attached one to Canoodle, so that DOC are able to keep an eye on their health and whereabouts.  Rocket is five years old and weighs 1.5kg.  Canoodle weighed 2.5kg with a beak approximately 129mm long. 

This was a truly magical event for me.  So much so I had to share."

What an amazing experience for Mariana.  Project Tongariro is pleased to have had the opportunity to be involved in this event, from a fundraising perspective, but also as an opportunity to connect people with conservation in NZ.  There are several other conservation experiences that were auctioned as part of the event and we look forward to sharing their stories with you as well.

2012 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, 37 young researchers have benefited from these awards enabling a wide range of research to be done in the Park, from heather, to bats, skinks, kiwi, stoats, to visitor stats, to geology, to lahars, to 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 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 31st 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 in 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.

Check out the Tongariro Journals Library - now online 2010 and 2011 Journals.  Back issues coming soon.

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

Don't forget to 'like' us on Facebook remember check out the full Events Calendar

Project Tongariro
PO Box 238 

p: +64 7 386 6499

Posted: Wed 02 May 2012

Roel Michels