Date: 23 August 2012
GNS lowered the alert level for Tongariro back down to level 1 late last week, and the Department of Conservation is now planning a staged recovery and re-opening of the sections of track in Tongariro National Park that remain closed, following the recent eruption.
DOC’s Ruapehu Area Manager Nic Peet says with the alert level lowered the hazard and risk zone has also been revised, and the centre of the eruption is now focussed on Upper Te Maari crater reducing the risk area to a 3km radius.
“The 3km hazard and risk zone will remain in place for some time, and will only be reduced once we have further information and a better understanding of the gas and ash composition to determine possible future scenario probabilities.”
“We are now planning the staged re-opening of facilities and tracks outside the hazard and risk zone, “ he said.
DOC is meeting this week with iwi, community and business partners to discuss the timing and sequence of re-opening.
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, and DOC staff are unable to get into the area to do the work until the high risk zone is further reduced.
Planning has also begun for the repair of the damaged tracks and facilities and this will be underway as soon as it is safe for staff to get into the area.
“If the current activity or inactivity continues the Tongariro Alpine Crossing will be open before the summer trekking season starts,” Nic says.
All other facilities, activities and alternative walking tracks are fully operational within the Tongariro National Park.