Tongariro Times - September 2012

Tongariro Times September 2012

Te Maari Crater Eruption


At 11.50pm, Monday 6 August 2012 an eruption occurred at Te Maari Crater on the northern flank of Mount Tongariro approximately 1.5 kilometres from Ketetahi Hut. The last significant eruption was in 1896.

Significant damage has occurred to Ketetahi Hut and surrounding tracks. The eruption also caused a landslide below the hut. Dams have been created. They threaten three bridges and the track below the bush line.  It is extremely dangerous to venture into this area and has been closed for public safety.

Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro, who have Manawhenua (territorial rights) over these lands have declared a rāhui (protective restriction) on entering this area. This upholds a traditional Maori custom (tikanga Māori) which respects the mana (prestige) of the maunga (mountain) and to ensure the safety and protection of all people entering the area.

As managers of the land, Department of Conservation requests that all track users support the rāhui by refraining from any recreational activity whatsoever beyond this point. The rāhui will be in operation until the route is restored and the threat from the dams and further eruptions is reduced.

Although the alert level has been lowered and the hazard zone revised, there is still a 3km radius hazard zone focussed around Upper Te Maari crater, and therefore a 3km risk area in place. The rāhui covers the area of tracks that are within 3km of the eruption site and as a result have been closed by DOC.

A pou will also be installed at Red Crater with information about the history and cultural significance of the maunga and whenua to the tangata whenua, and also information about the eruption.

The sections of track that are open are from Mangatepopo Road to Red Crater and also the track from Waihohonu Hut to Oturere Hut.

The section of track from Oturere Hut to Red Crater remains closed at this stage, along with the section of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing from Red Crater to Ketetahi Road.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing as a whole will take longer to re-open as the damage to facilities and tracks needs to be made safe. DOC staff will assess the track damage inside the 3-km hazard zone once this area is safe to re-enter.

All other facilities, activities and alternative walking tracks are fully operational within Tongariro National Park.

Photos courtesy of LandSAR Turangi and Harry Keys Department of Conservation

Winter Experience to Red Crater - 15th September 2012 (contingency 16th September 2012)

If you would like to particpate in a winter experience to Red Crater, join Project Tongariro on 15th September.  The group will be led by Terry Blumdhardt from Walking Places and will depart from and return to Turangi (weather dependant).  The walk will be Mangatepopop Car Park to Red Crater and back.  This is a winter experience and you will require appropriate clothing, food, water.

$140 per person including iceaxe, crampons, return transport from Turangi and guide.
This trip requires 8 people confirmed to go ahead.

Please register your interest to as soon as possible.


Join us for the Project Tongariro AGM at Blue Duck Station
12 to 14 October 2012 (AGM Saturday 13 October 2012)

This year the Society's AGM is being held at Blue Duck Station on the banks of the Whanganui River and Retaruke River surrounded by Whanganui National Park.  The station is reached via Taumarunui or National Park (see full details below).

The AGM is being held on Saturday morning.  There are opportunities to explore the area that day along with a Saturday night meal and get together.  On Sunday, there is a variety of bush walks or a guided walk around the property taking in historic buildings, conservation work and blue duck habitat.

Blue Duck Station’s core values are based around the conservation of its endangered wildlife, increasing the health of the native bush and rivers, and preserving the history of the area, while educating visitors about the endangered New Zealand blue duck (whio), other local native species and the history of the Whakahoro Valley. Check out their website.... 

Accommodation will either be at Whio Lodge or River Quarters. Overlooking Whakahoro, the Whio lodge sleeps 24 people in five rooms. From the fully equipped kitchen and open plan living room walk out to the covered eating area and BBQ. Relax on the veranda or try your hand at axe throwing and clay bird shooting from the lodge. The covered deck of River Quarters offers spectacular views of the Whanganui River.  The River Quarters lodge is made up of two buildings; River Quarters and Mamaku.  It sleeps 26 people in seven rooms. Completely self-contained, the lodge has several bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, BBQ and cosy wood-burning fire.

Blue Duck Café nearby is the venue for the AGM & dinner.  It is situated opposite the Whakahoro Department of Conservation camp site, next door to Whio Lodge and overlooking Whanganui National Park.


2 nights plus meal plus guided walk$124BUY NOW2 nights plus meal$103BUY NOW1 night (Sat only) plus meal$79BUY NOW1 night (Sat only) plus meal plus guided walk$100BUY NOWMeal only$32BUY NOWWalk only$21BUY NOW

Spaces at Whio Lodge and River Quarters are limited so please book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

An alternative accommodation option is the DOC Bunkroom at Whakahoro Bunkroom close to Blue Duck Station is available.  There are 10 bunks and mattresses and the off-peak rate is $15 per night. There are no heating, cooking facilities, hot water or showers and you must use the nearby shelter to prepare meals. You are welcome to select the 'AGM Meal Only' option joining everyone for Saturday night meal if you decide you decide to stay at the Whakahoro Bunkroom rather than at Blue Duck Station.

Please book the Whakahoro Bunkroom via the DOC booking system here

Schedule & Details:

Friday EveningArrive Blue Duck Station and get settled if staying Friday Night.  Cater own dinner.Saturday MorningCater own breakfast.
Explore Blue Duck Station on your own on in small groups.Saturday 11amAGM at Blue Duck CafeSaturday 1pmCater own lunch.Saturday AfternoonExplore Blue Duck Station on your own or in small groups.
Executive meetingSaturday 530pmPre-dinner Drinks BYO at Blue Duck CafeSaturday 630pmDinner at Blue Duck Cafe - hearty meal including desert.  Please indicate any dietary requirements when you book online by adding to the 'additional comments' box.
Saturday 730pmGuest Speaker: Harry Keys about recent Te Maari Crater Eruption
Sunday MorningCater own breakfast.Sunday 9.30amGuided walk around Blue Duck Station taking in historic sites, blue duck habitat and conservation work.


For driving instructions please go to the website for full details.  It is recommended to make the journey in daylight hours.


Help President Karen win an AMP scholarship & help the Society too!

Karen Williams, president of Project Tongariro, has just applied for an AMP grant of $10,000 - to undertake a major rewrite and revamp of her book ‘Volcanoes of the South Wind – a field guide to the Volcanoes and Landscape of Tongariro National Park.’ As Karen says, the latest eruption of Mt Tongariro is just one more reason why the book needs to be updated.


Photo: New vents - Te Maari, Mt Tongariro – August 2012, Ali Shannon photo

Volcanoes of the South Wind was first published by the Society in 1985 - with all profits from the sale of the book going back to Project Tongariro and into natural history and conservation projects in and around Tongariro National Park. Thousands of copies have been sold over the years and the most recent edition published in 2001 has completely sold out.

We’ve got lots of orders and we’d love to make the book available to a new generation of readers. But it’s too expensive for the Society to pay for both rewriting and the costs of reprinting the book,  This is why a grant would be a win/win for both Karen and the Society.

Your vote counts.

It's a Peoples Choice Award and voting has started and ends 30 September 2012.

Recent Volunteer Activities - Great Turn Out - Fantastic Effort

Waimarino Trapping Project
A great group of volunteers turned up with enthusiasm and enery to assist with the setting of 37 traps along the newly formed track at Waimarino Wetland in late July.  Our volunteers now check these traps on a fortnightly basis and are part of the greater operational plan for Te Matapuna Wetland. 

Tussock Traverse Tussocks
Some of the crew helped out by splitting and repotting tussock plants in early August. Thanks Roy & Annette Dench, Shirley Potter, Noel Thomas, Selwyn Bullock, Gerdine Bosma and Paul Green for lending a hand. These tussocks will be used in the Tussock Traverse in January 2013.  Participants are given a tussock when they enter and they have the choice to give it back to Project Tongariro to be planted back in Tongariro National Park.

Rotopounamu Update

DOC has published the Mt Pihanga Rotopounamu Restoration Project Annual Report for Year 9 2011 - 2012

In summary:
by Ian McNickle, Biodiversity Ranger, Department of Conservation

The Mt Pihanga/ Rotopounamu project was established in 2003 and is community focused with integrated pest management and advocacy at its core. The project is managed according to the Rotopounamu Management Plan (2008), which aims to maintain, enhance (or re-establish) vulnerable habitats and ecosystems and their component fauna and flora; and to prevent the establishment of new threats. To achieve this, it lists nine biodiversity objectives. The purpose of this document is to report progress made against these objectives and make recommendations for the future.

Diphacinone, 0.05g/kg, Pest Off cereal pellets was the chosen bait for the rodent control operation having proven very successful in the 2010/11 season. The bait has once again controlled rats to target levels through most of the bird breeding season this year. The programme had some challenges with a number of trees coming down and pigs deciding the bait in the bait stations was a good source of food. Five-minute bird counts were undertaken again by DOC staff and Project Tongariro interns, with a total of 248 counts completed. Significant increases in rifleman, silvereye and whitehead numbers were seen, showing that they have experienced another good breeding season. The kakariki population continues to steadily increase and Rotopounamu is proving to be a stronghold for this species.

Wax tags were used to measure possum abundance within the 530ha management block, and the equivalent of less than 2% RTCI was recorded. Therefore no possum management was undertaken this year. Project Tongariro volunteers continued to check the 50 traps set around the walking track, killing 19 stoats and 79 rats.

Due to a reduction in staff numbers for the year, no threatened species monitoring was undertaken, although these surveys were identified as ideal Project Tongariro intern projects. Similarly, no weed control was undertaken along the lake margins, although heather was targeted on the Pihanga summit.

Project Tongariro members and interns put a lot of effort into the Rotopounamu project volunteering a lot of time running tracking tunnels, checking and clearing traps and anything else that was asked of them. Their skill bases are expanding every year and their friendly faces are great advocates for Project Tongariro and conservation in general while carrying out the work.

The “Adopt a Hectare” initiative is steadily building in momentum with 60 hectares adopted by the community so far. The Rotopounamu walk is a great attraction to travelers and the local community with more than 11,000 visitors per annum. The Rotopounamu project also provides a great advocacy tool for demonstrating predator control techniques to the public.

Overall the 2011/12 season was a great success and the future looks positive for the Rotopounamu Project. The 2012/13 season will see another great year of Project Tongariro working with the Department of Conservation to restore the ecosystem of the MT Pihanga – Rotopounamu area.

Average Number of Calls per 5-minute Bird Count for Native Species Recorded at Rotopounamu 2010 to 2012

Rat and Mice Tracking Tunnel Footprint Index from 2009 to 2012

If you would like to review the report please download it here - Mt Pihanga - Restoration Project Annual Report Year 9 - 2011 - 2012

Journals - 1999 to 2011 Now Online

The Tongariro Annual Journal is a fantastic resource about everything that goes on in Tongariro National Park.  Last year, Project Tongariro and DOC published the very first e-version of the Tongariro Annual.  We have since published Journals from 1999 through 2010 in the Tongariro Journals Online Library.  You can view these journals via dynamic e book technology.  Eventually, the goal is to have a back issue library of all of the journals that have ever been published so that the information can be preserved and used as a resource into the future.

Check out the Tongariro Journals Library...

Upcoming Activities and Events - Your chance to get involved!

Winter Tongariro Alpine Crossing Experience - To Red CraterSat 15 SeptemberAGM at Blue Duck StationFri/Sat/Sun 12-14 OctoberTe Matapuna Wetland Native Planting DaySat 20 OctoberHapuawhenua Viaduct Vegetation Clearing Day / Rongokaupo Wetland PlantingSat/Sun 27-28 OctoberTussock Traverse Tussock PlantingSat 10 NovemberSaddle Cone TrampSat 17 NovemberThe Goat 
Sat 1 December30th Anniversary Memorial WalkSun 9 December


Posted: Thu 06 Sep 2012

Roel Michels