Tongariro Times November 2012

Tongariro Times November 2012

DOC Summer Nature Programme - Active in the Park


The DOC Summer Nature Programme has a full calendar of activities and events to check out and enjoy.  For more info and to book go to or call 0800 362 925

From rafting to bush walks and wetland kayaking, from mountain biking to heli-hikes and cave exploration, from historic sites to conservation to volcanic activity, there is something for everyone on the calendar of actvities.   A full and exciting calendar has been set and there are some exciting opportunites to explore in Tongariro National Park and its surrounding environs.


New Years Day - Come Fly A Kite

The iconic annual "Come Fly A Kite" Kite Day on the Chateau Tongariro golf course on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu is again part of the the Summer Nature Programme and a must do for families over the Christmas / New Year period.  To be held on 1st January, it's a chance to get outside and to come along and witness the colourful spectacle created by the NZ Kitefliers Association plus there are kite making kits for the kids and a sausage sizzle; all proceeds going to Project Tongariro.  Project Tongariro would like to thank Chateau Tongariro, Department of Conservation and the NZ Kitefliers Association for helping to organise the event.  If you are keen to help out on the day then email or just turn up with friends and family to help make this a fantastic day out! 

This year a postponement day of 2nd January 2013 has been set.

Adopt a Hectare - An Ideal Christmas Gift

The time of year is upon us when we think about Christmas gifts for our loved ones but the age-old question comes up - what do you get someone who has everything?  Adopting a hectare at Rotopounamu in the name of your loved one might just be the perfect solution...

By making a donation of $100.00 to adopt a hectare on behalf of your loved one, you will receive a certificate that acknowledges your valuable contribution and identifies the location of the ‘adopted’ hectare. You can pass this certificate on as a gift and it can be made out in the name of the person that you wish to donate on behalf of. 

You can be confident that your contribution will make a meaningful difference to the quality of the native bush surrounding Lake Rotopounamu so that it can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

Go to to choose your hectare and make your donation - a fantastic gift idea!


Project Tongariro supported at the Huka Falls Jet Locals Day

Project Tongariro along with Youthtown and Mt Tauhara Gymnastics have been selected by Huka Falls Jet as recipients for procreeds from their annual Locals Day.  If you are a Taupo local then head along and take part in the fun on the weekend of 1st and 2nd December.  It's only $20 per person to experience the Huka Falls Jet.  If you are keen to help out during the weekend, then contact as a team from Project Tongariro will be on site during the weekend to fundraise and spread the word about our projects.  We could use a few extra hands!

30th Anniversary Memorial Walk  - Sunday 9th December 2012

Walk to the helicopter crash site in which the pilot and four park staff died exactly 30 years ago (9th December 1982). This tragic event led to the establishment of the Tongariro Natural History Society (now known as Project Tongariro).

10 am - Meet at the carpark, opposite Ngati Rangi/ DOC Office Ohakune at the base of Ohakune Mountain Road, own vehicles.  BYO lunch/drink/sunhat/sunscreen/jacket/walking shoes or boots.

10.15 – drive part way up Turoa Mountain Road in convoy

Walk about 15 minutes from the Ohakune Mountain Road across alpine shrubland to the crash site. It's an easy grade but a bit up and down due to the plant cover. Please note there is no track.  Walking poles could be handy. On a good day the views of Ruapehu are spectacular from this site which is located near a rocky knoll with beech trees and a natural alpine garden.

Return to vehicles and drive up to the road end at the Turoa Ski Area for lunch (BYO picnic).   This is a chance to see and talk about a special area of alpine plants (Turoa alpine flush zone) and discuss Project Tongariro’s role. (No walking involved).

Those who want to explore a bit more are welcome to join Harry Keys on a longer walk from the base of Turoa Ski Area to the South East Basin. Tramp about 1km or so each way to view an interesting area known as Column Rocks (featuring columnar jointing) and Turoa’s newest ski lift – Nga Wai Heke. Approximately 2-2.5 hours return.

Wet weather alternative: from 10am – midday Sunday – The folks at the Powderhorn Chateau in the Ohakune Junction have kindly offered their Matterhorn Restaurant to us at no charge if the weather is inclement and the walk to the crash site cannot go ahead. We would of course “invest” in tea and coffee/morning tea if need be. Fingers crossed for a sunny day. If you are not sure if it’s all go on the day phone Karen (0274 915 859) or Harry (0274 79 0550) or turn up at the carpark meeting place at bottom of Ohakune Mountain Road at 10am.


New Project Tongariro Office

Well, I’m finally into our new offices.   Project Tongariro is now situated in the old ‘fisheries’ wing of the Turangi DOC premises. I’m lucky enough to have scored Dave Lumley’s ex office, and I must say, it is very spacious and has lovely natural light with morning sun. I feel very grown up in here, but keeping the desk free of clutter is going to be a challenge for me!

Volcanic activity at Mt Tongariro

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was closed on Wednesday last week following the eruption from Te Maari Crater on Mt Tongariro about 1.30pm which pushed a plume of ash and gas about 2km into the air.  In August the crater erupted for the first time in more than a century, ejecting rocks that fell up to 1km away and forcing the closure of the popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing track for trampers.  It was only re-opened at Labour Weekend.  There were a number of trampers on the mountain, including up to 90 school students, who had to hurry off the mountain when it erupted on Wednesday.  But DOC Ruapehu area manager Jonathan Maxwell said he didn't regret the crossing being reopened.  "We'd had a fairly stable time after the initial eruption.  We have a rahui (restriction) in place a kilometre around Te Maari crater. That proved to be a good call and the right distance so no one was anywhere near it."  

A great alternative scenic walk for keen trampers is the southern section of the Northern Circuit between Whakapapa Village through to the Waihohonu Hut, or further through to the Desert Rd.

DOC has been undertaking best practice risk assessment that indicates that late this week some tracks on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Northern Circuit may be open for use, and the Mangatepopo road end may be open.

DOC is very aware of the economic impact on local communities of having the Tongariro Alpine Crossing closed. While wishing to re-open the track as soon
as possible, public safety remains the paramount concern.


Dr Harry Keys.  Right: view from NW showing PDC deposits (PDC - pyroclastic density current)

Check out this video from GeoNetNZ of the eruption

Meanwhile at Mt Ruapehu...GNS Science released the following report on 22 November 2012

Volcanic Alert Level: 1 (unchanged)
Aviation Colour Code: Yellow (unchanged)
12 pm Thursday 22 November 2012

The likelihood of eruptions at Ruapehu remains. Yesterday GNS Science volcanologists visited the summit crater lake to sample the water and gas. Some provisional results should be available within a few days.  GNS volcanologist Brad Scott said, “The lake remains similar to our last visit on November 10. The lake is a uniform blue colour with very little convection and the temperature was only 19.5 °C. Everything looks quiet at the surface”.  Recent measurements at Ruapehu indicate that the likelihood of eruptions has increased and the observations yesterday don’t change this. The Aviation Colour Code remains at Yellow and the Volcanic Alert Level remains at 1.  We are monitoring Ruapehu closely, but it often does not give any immediate warning that it is going to erupt.  Since late October small earthquakes have been occurring about 5 km beneath the summit  area of Ruapehu, but these may not be directly related to the high temperatures beneath Crater Lake as the earthquakes are much deeper.

Background - A build-up of pressure beneath Crater Lake is thought to have caused the 2007 eruption and a smaller eruption in 2006. We think that the temperature a few hundred metres beneath Crater Lake is about 800 °C, but because the lake itself is only about 19-20 °C it suggests the vent is partly blocked which may be leading to a pressure build-up beneath Crater Lake. A sudden release of the pressure may lead to an eruption.  Aviation Colour Codes are based on four colours and are intended for quick reference only in the international civil aviation community. Code Yellow indicates that a volcano is experiencing signs of elevated unrest above known background levels.

The Volcanic Alert Level ranges from 0 to 5 and defines the current status at a volcano. Level 1 indicates a departure from typical background surface activity.


Introducing the 2012 - 13 Project Tongariro Interns

The new Bio Interns from Waikato University, Anthony Coventry and Nathan Frost, are off to a flying start this week with basic first aid and GPS training (thanks to Terry Blumhardt of Walking Places) and a chopper flight over Waimarino Wetland (thanks to DOC & Ian McNickle) to view our Te Matapuna Wetland restoration project, followed by a couple of days kayaking around the wetland mapping errant willow trees that have managed to escape or re-grow after the previous control operations.

They will be kept very busy over the next few weeks helping Jess Scrimgeour out with some diversity projects and marshalling at The Goat mountain running event. Anthony and Nathan will also be helping out at the monthly nursery morning held on Tuesday 4th December, so if you didn’t meet them at the Waiotaka planting day on Saturday, come along and spend a few hours with us in the nursery. Morning tea provided!

Photo: Anthony Coventry is on the left and Nathan Frost is on the right

Personal Statements from their CV’s:
"Since I was young I have had a passion for animals, especially endangered species. I am originally from Africa and I have seen first-hand how important conservation work is to protect the animals and their environments. My long-term goal is to be involved in a conservation park or sanctuary in Africa protecting endangered species for future generations and educating the public about them."

"I love to be surrounded by nature and enjoy learning about the science behind it. This is what led me to start my degree in environmental sciences and have so far enjoyed it a lot. I am still very open to what I want to do when I finish my degree and welcome the opportunity to experience what could be in store for me when I finish. The subject areas I am enjoying include soil science as well as aspects of evolution and diversity."

Special thanks to the Craters of the Moon Trust who assit in the funding of the Project Tongariro Intern Programme.

Nursery Work


If you fancy yourself as a bit of a green thumb, or if you just want to get involved, then join the crew at the Project Tongariro Nursery the first Tuesday of every month throughout the summer months from 930am to 1230pm.  Led by our resident ecologist and all round great guy Nick Singers, the nursery team ensures our plants are well cared for and ready to be planted at various planting days scheduled at the likes of Te Matapuna Wetland and the Tussock Revegetation site at the Tukino Mountain Road.

NEXT NURSERY WORK  - Tuesday 4th December 2012 - Morning tea provided!

Tussock Traverse - 26th January 2012 - Volunteers Needed

Our signature event and a fantastic day out!

Project Tongariro marshalls the entire event and looks after the entrants when they finish too with a great BBQ. It’s all good fun and Project Tongariro is the sole benefactor. This is our major fundraiser for the year and we raise in the region of $5000. Please let us know if you can help out on the day by contacting the office


The course cuts across the heart of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park, starting off at the Desert Road on the eastern side of TNP and taking in the Rangipo Desert and Waihohonu traverse track before finishing at the Chateau Tongariro in Whakapapa to the west. In 2012 we successfully introduced an additional two course distances which meant an increase in the total number of competitors allowed to take part in this spectacular alpine event!  These are back in 2013 and here to stay.

The iconic 26km course remains unchanged, with a maximum number of 500 participants (nearly sold out in 2012!); the two shorter distances include a 13km run/walk and a shorter 6.5km run/walk, both with a maximum of 500 participants in each event option. 

The 26km run/walk course begins approximately 6km up the Tukino Road in the Rangipo Desert (entrance off the Desert Road, SH1) with a long hard climb straight up initially.  From there it's a mixture of rock hopping, lava fields, desert, alpine track (the views are amazing), and beech forest before finishing beside the Chateau Tongariro in Whakapapa for a rest and BBQ.

The 13km and 6.5km options will both start and loop back to the event finish line at the Chateau Tongariro.

If you are keen to enter then go to  

From The Taylor Memorial Trust - The future of the Lodge

The Taylor Memorial Trust has recently been considering its options for the ongoing operation of their Lodge at Station Rd, Pokaka.  The eight trustees have been operating the lodge  for over 30 years and now they are at a stage where they must consider some changes.  Forward bookings for 2013 will continue to be taken and assured.

The kinds of scenarios that the Trust is considering include:
- selling the lodge on the open market;
- selling for less to a school, youth group, educational institution etc that would be likely to continue taking young folk to this area;
- negotiate with another charitable trust.

If you have any questions about the lodge please contact the Trust Chairperson on

All the way over...fantastic spring conditions at Mt Ruapehu

Karen Williams and Harry Keys hosted Nicola Williams on a fantastic trip all the way over to Tukino from Whakapapa Ski Area to take advantage of the fabulous spring snow conditions earlier this month.  Nicola was the highest bidder for this fantastic prize; a guided trip up and over Mt Ruapehu.  The prize was part of a neat prize pool of Tongariro experiences put together for the Wairakei Golf Course Charity Tournament Auction held earlier this year at which Project Tongariro was the charitable partner.  The spring conditions were 'unbelievable' and from the looks of these pictures it was a fantastic day on Mt Ruapehu.  Grateful thanks to our partners Ruapehu Alpine Lifts and DOC.



Another successful planting day at Waiotaka (Te Matapuna) Wetland last weekend...

A dedicated crew planted another 400 plants on Saturday 24th November at Waiotaka (Te Matapuna) Wetland.  Awesome work guys!




To all the volunteers who are working on The Goat this weekend - have a fantastic day out and enjoy our beautiful Tongariro National Park. 

To all The Goat Competitors - good luck and have a great day!

Thanks to The Goat and to The Park Travellers' Lodge for their on-going support of Project Tongariro.

Upcoming activities and events - your chance to get involved!

The Goat 
Sat 1 Dec 2012Huka Falls Jet Locals DaySat 1 Dec and Sun 2 Dec 201230th Anniversary Memorial WalkSun 9 Dec 2012Nursery WorkTues 4 Dec 2012Summer Nature Programme - Active in the Park27 Dec 2012 to 13 Jan 2013Kite DayTues 1 Jan 2013Tussock TraverseSat 26 Jan 2013


Posted: Fri 30 Nov 2012

Roel Michels