Minister Nick Smith checking the new forecast service on his mobile phone
Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today launched a new online mountain weather forecast service that will improve the enjoyment and safety of trampers, hunters, mountain bikers, skiers and fishers using New Zealand’s National and Forest Parks.
“New Zealand’s mountain environment can quickly turn from warm and calm to treacherous. We can improve the safety and enjoyment of users by providing more frequent and detailed weather forecasts on the internet,” Dr Smith says.
“We lose about six people per year in our mountains and often these deaths are weather related. We also have about 150 mountain search and rescue callouts a year. This improved weather service will reduce risk and save lives.
“The new online mountain weather forecast service will provide standardised five day forecasts updated every day for 24 mountain locations across eight of New Zealand’s most popular parks. This compares to a previous service of eight locations with a mix of forecast lengths from two to five days and from a frequency of twice daily to weekly.
“It makes sense for an area like Fiordland to have a forecast for four different locations because the National Park is so large that the weather can significantly vary between east and west and north and south.
“Another welcome addition is the inclusion of a specific forecast for the Tararua Forest Park. Trampers and hunters who use this area can now plan with more certainty given the fickle nature of the weather in this popular area. Other mountain areas will be covered in the brief and extended mountain forecast.”
DOC has had a contract with MetService since 1997 to provide weather forecasts for specific National Parks and mountain ranges at a cost of around $106,000 per annum. This new forecast service requires more than doubling of funding to $226,500 per annum.
“Our mountains are to be enjoyed but also respected. We lose the lives of too many people who do not take adequate preparation. I’m encouraging people to use this new tool to improve the safety and enjoyment of their mountain recreation.”
Funding of $230,000 over four years has also been provided to the Mountain Safety Council to enable it to continue providing its world leading avalanche forecasting and advisory service until a sustainable long-term funding source is found.
The avalanche advisory service can be accessed through the mountain forecasts, which are located in the Mountains and Parks section on the MetService website. More information about the new-look mountain forecasts is available on the MetService blog. The new forecasts went live at 12.30pm today.