Tongariro Times November 2013

Tongariro Times November 2013

Mahi Aroha - Doing it for Conservation

This summer, the Department of Conservation (DOC) together with Project Tongariro, are flipping the notion of conservation on its head with their interactive 2013/2014 Summer Nature Programme, Mahi Aroha. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the programme.

This year’s events, which run from 30 December to 26 January, celebrate and acknowldege all things conservation, bringing together the Central Plateau’s stunning natural and historical treasures and serving them to the public in a way that is sure to ignite the senses of both the young and the young at heart. Spaces are limited, so be quick to sign up.

The DOC and Project Tongariro teams are excited about this year’s programme. Project Tongariro President Paul Green says: "We are pleased to be working with the Department of Conservation on this programme which gives every-day New Zealanders the opportunity to enjoy the special places that staff and volunteers get to experience everyday through their ongoing work and commitment to conservation. It is exciting and an honour to have the chance to share what we value with the public."

DOC’s Partnerships Manager Whakapapa Jono Maxwell says: "Mahi Aroha offers an awesome range of events that give people the opportunity to get out into the great outdoors and experience what the Tongariro and Taupō areas have to offer. It is great that we can team up with Project Tongariro and other groups to be able to develop an outstanding selection of events and experiences for people of all ages and abilities.

Background on 50 years

This year’s summer programme is a milestone as it celebrates its 50th year. Launched in the Tongariro region in 1964 and spearheaded by Lincoln University’s Associate Professor Parks, Recreation & Tourism, Dr Patrick Devlin, it has come a long way since its humble beginnings.

Dr. Devlin played a significant part in the programme for 12 years and speaks fondly of those early days when visitor numbers were "bursting at the seams in makeshift conditions".

“Day-time walks were either a full or half day. Full days involved the major mountains: crossing Tongariro, going to the Crater Lake on Ruapehu, climbing to the Ngauruhoe summit and several others. There would be less talking and more hard walking (and puffing) with these. Some were hugely popular and it was not uncommon to have over a hundred people and several staff on some trips. Half-day walks were two to three-hour nature walks. Evenings were given over to illustrated talks on geology, history, vegetation, introduced animals, winter sports and hiking/tramping. They were all well attended,” he says.

During his time as Programme Leader Devlin witnessed areas of significant growth, in not only the facilities offered to the public, but also that of a future generation developing an interest in the natural environment.

“I was a part of the programme for 12 years and watched the park facilities grow and develop to a very high standard. I also watched my children grow, develop a love for the bush and the mountains, and acquire knowledge and skills that in turn rubbed off on their children.”

Mahi Aroha serves to follow on this tradition, educating the younger generation about the importance of protecting the natural environment through the notion of participation. This is a summer programme that delivers equal parts education, enjoyment and encounters with a clear underlying message.


Volcanoes of the South Wind

Project Tongariro is delighted to let you know that ‘Volcanoes of the South Wind’ is now available.

First published in 1985, author Karen Williams has re-written this much-loved volcanic guide from start to finish.  It is now titled “A Volcanic Guide to Tongariro National Park – Volcanoes of the South Wind”. Random House Books NZ has given this non-fiction classic, about the central North Island’s volcanoes, a new identity and lease on life.

The book remains a comprehensive field guide to the remarkable landscape of the dual World Heritage site of Tongariro National Park. It tells the turbulent story of a volcanic complex that continues to make headlines.

The text features the 2013 eruptions from Te Maari on Mt Tongariro and discusses advances in volcanic monitoring and warning systems affecting the ski areas and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The book has a new format and features dozens of new photos and new diagrams.  Walks in Tongariro National Park have been included as well as a number of easily accessible sites of volcanic interest.

The book explains the incredible forces that shape and mould the landscape and will serve as a useful reference for those who seek to understand the famous volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.

“A Volcanic Guide to Tongariro National Park – Volcanoes of the South Wind” is a must-have for local residents, bach owners, overseas visitors and all those who enjoy exploring Tongariro National Park.

Order your copy online NOW

In addition, Project Tongariro is now offering the popular “Ruapehu Erupts” book by Karen Williams and Dr Harry Keys at a special price of $10.00 including GST.

The book, published in 2008, is essentially a pictorial essay - a case study of the 1995-1996 eruptions of Mt Ruapehu through to the dam burst of the Crater Lake in 2007.

“Ruapehu Erupts” features some great photos celebrating the drama and magic of these eruptions. It also provides an excellent record about a recent chapter in the continuing story of this very active and often unpredictable volcano.

Karen and husband Harry have lived in the central North Island for more than two decades. A journalist and historian, Karen has written a number of books about the area. Harry, a scientist with the Department of Conservation, has devoted much of his career to developing a volcanic risk management system to protect people and infrastructure from Ruapehu’s often dangerous eruptions and lahars. Harry is currently leading the development of an eruption detection system for Mt Tongariro in association with GNS Science.

Order your copy online NOW


Kite Day Volunteers

Calling all volunteers who are able help out at the annual Kite Day on 1 January 2014 as part of the Mahi Aroha event calendar.  This is a magical day in Tongariro National Park and a real showcase event for Project Tongariro.  If you are able to help by turning a sausage to two, assisting with kids' kite building or just generally spreading the Project Tongariro message please get in touch with Kiri on .

We have a very special volunteer role that needs filling this year.  You have big shoes to fill but we promise it to be a very rewarding role.  Margaret Stothard, one of our long time volunteers, would like to hand over the important role of making up the kite kits that we sell to the children on Kite Day.  If this sounds like something you might like to takeover then please let Kiri know asap so that she can arrange for a handover of the kite kit materials complete with instructions.  Special thanks to Margaret for the time and energy she has put in over the years for making Kite Day extra special for all the families who have enjoyed it.


Bird Monitoring at Rotopounamu

Training will take place mid January with the monitoring taking place in the first 2 weeks of February. This is definitely not for the faint-hearted.  The monitoring itsself takes place at Rotopounamu and is off-trail in the bush, generally for 4-5 hours a day (weather dependent). It requires fit and keen people, but the reward is spending time in a very special piece of bush and actively contributing to hands on conservation.

Birds that are 'monitored' at Rotopounamu:

  • Bellbird

  • Tui

  • Long tailed cuckoo

  • Fantail

  • Kaka

  • Kakariki

  • Rifleman

  • Grey warbler

  • Whitehead

  • Tomtit

  • Kereru

  • Silvereye

Christmas is on its way!  Here are some unique gift ideas for those special people in your life...

Copy of the newly released "A Volcanic Guide to Tongariro National Park - Volcanoes of the South Wind" by Karen Williams for $39.99 or a copy of "Ruapehu Erupts" for a special price of $10.  Visit our online publication shop to make your order.

Adopt a Hectare - For that special someone that has everything you could 'adopt a hectare' at Rotopounamu on their behalf.  We will send you a cerficate acknowleding the adoption for you to give to them on Christmas.  Visit our website to adopt a hectare now.

Mahi Aroha - Doing if for Conservation Activities and Trips.  Mahi Aroha, previously known as the DOC Summer Nature Programme has a range of inspiring and exciting trips scheduled between 30 Dec 2013 and 26 Jan 2014 for both the young and the young at heart, many of which are to remote areas otherwise inaccessible by public.  Check out the Mahi Arohoa events on  The online booking system will be up and running soon.  Be quick to book in as these trips will sell out fast!


Operation Nest Egg Update
From Renee Potae - DOC Biodiversity Ranger Whakapapa

Our Tongariro Forest Kiwi Sanctuary Annual Report will be out in the next few weeks and we will make sure Project Tongariro gets a copy. You will see in the report that our current work in the Tongariro Sanctuary is coming to an end. We have been monitoring very young chicks each year, especially before and after 1080. We are changing the parameters of our experiment slightly and will be monitoring young chicks only after 1080 operations (we know what happens to them before 1080 - they do not survive).  We will be changing the 1080 operations slightly to study different methods and will monitor young kiwi chicks at Tongariro after operations.

Therefore, we may not be sending as many kiwi eggs to Kiwi Encounter (Rainbow) this season.  However, the ones we do send to Rainbow will be hatched there and taken to Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary until they are safe weight (1100 - 1200g) and then returned to Tongariro Forest where they will have a good chance of survival ie: true "Operation Nest Egg (TM)".  Alternatively, some of our chicks may be translocated to Maungatautari this season.

My thanks go out to those dedicated Project Tongariro members who've helped us transport eggs to and from Rainbow Springs in Rotorua.


2013 AGM 
by Kiri Te Wano

The weather that greeted us at Whakapapa was doing its best to hang onto winter - snow and sleet dominated, but thanks to the cosy Forest and Bird Lodge, we were able to watch it from inside!

We had a excellent turnout to our AGM this year with 35 members attending. The highlight of the meeting for me was two Life Memberships being awarded - the first to Karen Williams as she has been instrumental in the development and growth of Project Tongariro since its establishment and the second to Dr Harry Keys. Harry has assessed the Memorial Award candidates each year for many years and has also vastly contributed with leading field trips and sharing his knowledge of Tongariro National Park. We congratulate them both for the commitment and work done for our society since it first started out nearly 30 years ago!

The dinner following the meeting was also a success gauging from the number of compliments received from members about 'Food with Altitude's' catering and our slightly different-from-usual format that followed the dinner. We introduced ourselves (your core staff) then went on to update everyone on our core projects. The following Sunday morning saw the weather ease a bit so the planned historical field trip was able to take place. It was led by the very able and informative Kaye Rabarts around historical sites of importance between Whakapapa and National Park.  I also received numerous compliments about this trip, and the notes Kaye produced for the trip are amazing.  We hope to be able to use them in the upcoming the Tongariro Journal. Thank you again Kaye for organising this within your busy schedule!

A pair of tramping boots were found in the final clean-up of the lodge, and one of our members kindly took them home with her.  So if these are your boots, please get in touch with me!

Thank you to those who attended - your enthusiasm, interest and support really makes the large job of organising the AGM weekend worthwhile.  We are all looking forward to next year's AGM when we will celebrate our 30th anniversary!

Tussock Traverse Volunteer Call Out - 25th January 2014 (pp day 26th Jan 2014)

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; 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.

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.

Volunteer marshalls for the Tussock Traverse event are also provided with free ski-lodge-style accommodation for the Friday and Saturday nights of the event weekend.

Greening Taupō Update

Over the last couple of months Greening Taupō has been busy connecting people in the community and bringing them together to achieve our common goal - to ‘green’ Taupō. Since launching in July this year, we’ve planted over 25,000 plants in the Taupō district and are well on our way to our goal of 250,000 in five years.

Although the summer season is now upon us, and we aren’t specifically planting on a large scale, Greening Taupō is still busy out in the community building relationships, profile and fundraising. Plus we are always encouraging individuals and families to 'green up' their own backyards!

Community planting days will resume in about April 2014.  We’ve got a few on the cards.

King of the Ring Charity Boxing Event

Support Greening Taupō and get in behind the Trade Me auctions and other fundraising opportunities brought to you by the 100% Lake Taupō Charitable Trust. Greening Taupō has been selected as one of the 16 recipient charities for this year's King of the Ring boxing event and plus there are three different ways you can contribute to help us try and raise money. The charity that earns the most money gets given an extra $10,000 on top of their proceeds so we've got a big incentive to raise the most cash!

There are three ways to donate and support:

1. Trade Me auctions. These would make fantastic Christmas presents! View the Trade Me Listings.  Look out for Greening Taupō's unique experience trips and prizes. They are:

  • Taupō Landscape Package - plants, consultation & earthworks 

  • Family Kiwi Experience at Wairakei 

  • Go Fishing with a Guru and Stay at Tongariro Lodge 

  • Mountain Madness Package at Whakapapa Ski Area

2. Text to donate - text CHRIS to 306 (Chris is our boxer for the event).

3. Fundraise online - donate online by following this link

Rare NZ Falcons find sanctuary in Taupō

This story is exactly what why we are doing what we are doing!  It is awesome to see this pair of rare NZ falcons raising their young  in Taupō at Craters Mountain Bike Park just outside the predator proof fence at Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary.  It is also a fantastic example of what can happen when organisations like DOC, Bike Taupo Project Tongariro and Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary come together in a community towards a common goal. 

Read the whole story here :

Following on from this NZ falcon story you can download the latest newsletter from the New Zealand Falcon Survey here: NZ Falcon Survey Newsletter

More from the 2013 Memorial Award Recipients

Benjamin Simons
Waikato University - WU MSc Candidate
'The Deposit Characteristics and Explosive Eruption Processes of Blue Lake Crater, Tongariro'


Blue Lake is a volcanic crater lake situated in the northern end of Mt Tongariro. It is one of at least 11 vents that have been active on Tongariro in the last 25,000 years (others include Te Maari, North Crater and Red Crater). The eruption history of Blue Lake is for the most part poorly defined, and its record of activity and deposits is perhaps the least comprehensive of the recent Tongariro vents. This is mostly a result of the complex nature of the volcano, with its multiple cones (that have often been contemporaneously active) and eruptive styles, products and processes.

The aim of my thesis is to determine the eruption history and dynamics, as well as the emplacement processes associated with Blue Lake Crater. My work consists of describing the geomorphology of the crater as a whole, as well as mapping and describing the deposits seen in the field. A number of textural, petrographic and geochemical analyses will be undertaken, including componentry studies, density/vesicularity determination, petrography, whole rock XRF spectroscopy and electron microprobe analyses on glass and phenocrysts.

Rebecca Fitzgerald
University of Canterbury - CU MSc Candidate
'Te Maari Eruptions 2012: Field and Experimental Assessments of Ballistic Block-fall Hazard' 

The August 6th 2012 eruption of the Upper Te Maari Crater, Tongariro, resulted in the ejection of ballistic blocks within a 3 km radius of the vents. Located within this radius is 2 km of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (TAC), creating a significant hazard to the ~80 000 visitors per year who utilise the track. Due to the risk of ballistic blocks impacting the track from a further eruption, a decision was made to close a portion of the TAC. Further research is therefore needed to constrain the ballistic hazard from Upper Te Maari Crater.

The aims of this project are to analyse the hazard and risk from this and any future eruptions with respect to ballistics; and to better understand the factors that controlled the morphology, style, and spatial distribution of ballistic impact craters from the August 6th eruption. This will involve mapping the impact craters produced by the August 6th eruption, and analysing the hazard and risk from future eruptions (and those of different magnitudes) using a 3D block-fall trajectory model. Crater formation experiments will also be performed in which different variables are changed to investigate their effect on the hazard and risk to anyone in their proximity.

Chris Conway
Victoria University of Wellington - VUW PhD candidate
'The magmatic and glaciovolcanic evolution of Ruapehu volcano'  

The key objectives of this PhD study are to understand how the style and record of eruptions from Ruapehu volcano have been influenced by the past presence of glacial ice, and to investigate the evolution of the magma system over the past 250,000 years. To do this I will combine detailed geological and glaciovolcanic mapping with high-precision geochronology and geochemistry of andesite lava samples.

The distribution of lava flows that were emplaced adjacent to ice preserve distinct characteristics and will be mapped in order to constrain the past extent of glaciers on Ruapehu. The ages and durations of periods of lava effusion will be precisely constrained by radiometric 40Ar/39Ar dating of samples. This will be combined with whole-rock major and trace element geochemical characterisation of lavas to construct a more complete eruptive record and geological map for Ruapehu. Micro-analytical techniques will be used to measure the chemical composition of minerals within lava samples, which are derived from a variety of sources within the mantle and crust. This fine-scale mineralogical study will reveal the type and timescales of processes involved in the generation and eruption of andesite lavas at Ruapehu.

Eric Breard
Massey University - MU PhD Candidate
'Exploding the pyroclastic density currents enigma: comparison with high-mobility PDCs from the August 6 2012 Upper Te Maari eruption' 

Explosive volcanic eruptions usually generate hot and high velocity ground hugging gas-particle flows or pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) that are often responsible of multiple fatalities. In 2012, Upper Te Maari volcano (Tongariro, NZ) produced spectacular small-scale blast currents that belong to the most mobile volcanic flows on Earth. PDCs passed 5 ridges and reached the highly touristic Tongariro Alpine Crossing, thus representing one of the main hazard of the eruption. Physical theories cannot explain successfully interaction of PDCs with topographic obstacles and transition of regime of the currents. We always lack of determining internal parameters of the flows, hence largely constraining our ability on the development of valid volcanic hazard maps. Consequently, we use the large-scale PDC experimental facility at Massey University (PN) in order to generate PDC analogs resulting of the collapse of a volcanic mixture into a fully instrumented channel (Fig.1). We create PDCs spanning the full range of natural flows (dense-dilute; laminar-highly turbulent; cold-hot flows; variable initial mixture grain-size, variable initial gas/particle ratio) and relate the lateral and vertical gradient of the flow properties to both damages linked to their dynamic pressure and also to the pyroclastic deposit left. By feeding numerical models from physical laws deduced from our experiments, we aim to predict more closely the behavior of PDCs and develop reliable hazard maps (e.g. Tongariro).

Fig. 1: Left: The PDC Generator with its main structural components; Middle: High-speed sequence of the initial stages of two PDC experiments. The stratified PDC is a highly turbulent flow whereas the bipartite PDC exposed a fluidized basal flow overlaid by a turbulent wake current separated by a sharp boundary. Flows reached velocities >10 m/s Right: Examples of the typical range of sedimentary facies produced in the experimental channel (flow direction from left to right).

2013-14 Calendar

Download the 2013 - 14 Project Tongariro Event Calendar

A date has been set for the rail track field trip 'Taumarunui to Whangamomona by Cart for 16 February 2014.  Trip leader Frank Katavich rallied up some keen people at the AGM for the trip.  If you would like to participate make sure you get in touch with Frank asap.  The cost is $285.  It sounds as if it is quite the trip.  Frank is investigating accommodation options as well as other walks in the region if participants want to make a weekend of it.

Email Frank on

Upcoming Events:

23-24 November 2013
Pureroa Dawn Chorus Feild Trip

7 December 2013
The Goat Event

30 December 2013 to 26 January 
Mahi Aroha - Doing it for Conservation - Summer Nature Programme

1 January 2014
Kite Day

25 January 2014
Tussock Traverse

16 February 2014
Taumarunui to Whangamomona by Cart on Rail Track Field Trip


Volunteer Appreciation

If you haven't got enough motivation to 'put your hand up' for volunteering, Project Tongariro has introduced a new initiative where, every time you volunteer you go into the draw to win a mystery weekend for two. This prize will be drawn at our 'Volunteer Appreciation Dinner' held on Fri 28th February 2014.  

Examples of volunteering that'll get you into the draw include:

  • Event Marshalling

  • Helping out with restoration planting days

  • Other advocacy events such as Kite day or Mahi Aroha

  • Getting involved with 'trap checking' or 'tracking tunnels', bird monitoring etc on one of our restoration projects

Waikato Biodiversity Forum

The next Waikato Biodiversity Forum is to be held 9.30am to 3pm on Monday 25th November 2013 in the Kowhai Room at Waiora House, Taupo.  Theme for the day: Making links across groups and habitats of the South Waikato/Taupo area.  Project Tongariro and Greening Taupō will be attending and speaking at this event.  To register your attendance please email Moira at

Posted: Thu 14 Nov 2013

Roel Michels