Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


A hiker sustained a significant burn injury on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing when he walked off track into a steam vent (fumarole) near ‘Emerald Lakes’.

Date:  09 March 2020

On February 27 a hiker and his partner walked off the marked track and around the edge of the top Emerald Lake after spotting a steam vent near the lake which they decided to get closer to so they could take a photo.

About two metres from the top of the vent, one of the hiker’s legs dropped through the surface crust, causing burns up to his knee.

He was airlifted to Waikato Hospital by the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter and received treatment for second-degree burns.

Department of Conservation Senior Public Safety Ranger Theo Chapman says this incident is a serious reminder for hikers to stay on the marked track.

“There is geothermal activity around the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with a number of steam vents present, particularly around the popular Emerald Lakes area.

“Steam vents should not be approached as they can be very hot and the ground unstable.”

“The track traverses an active volcanic landscape, there is always some risk from volcanic hazards. While DOC has substantial mitigation measures in place, visitors should make a personal choice if they are comfortable accepting the risk of hiking on an active volcano or choose a different track.”


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