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Tongariro Alpine Crossing safety enhanced

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The safety of people undertaking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing has been further strengthened following a meeting of local tourism operators and interested organisations.

The establishment of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Transport and Guide concessionaires group (TACTAG) in 2007 has already seen significant steps to improve the safety of people doing the Crossing which is internationally renowned as one of New Zealand's top tramping experiences.

TACTAG has established protocols that guide operators on weather conditions and the minimum equipment for trampers. Group members have agreed to operate to these protocols, meaning they do not transport trampers to the Crossing if the weather is unsuitable or they do not have appropriate clothing and equipment.

At the latest meeting of TACTAG, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said that in future it would require operators holding concessions to provide guiding and transport services for the Crossing to be TACTAG members and abide by its protocols.

Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Advocacy Manager Geoff Ensor, who attended the meeting, said there was no doubt the group had positively influenced visitor safety on the Crossing.

"With even more support from DOC, Police and concessionaires, we are confident that TACTAG will make an even bigger contribution to safety on one of our great alpine experiences," Mr Ensor says.

TACTAG Chairman Stewart Barclay says the group has a 12 month goal to have all Tongariro Alpine Crossing transport and guiding concessionaires signed up as members.

"We plan to revisit the group's safety procedures and protocols to ensure we are not simply meeting existing legal needs but setting a standard of operation above this to a level where we are confident we are meeting our moral and professional responsibilities," Mr Barclay says.

DOC Conservator Damian Coutts says Tongariro Alpine Crossing is recognised as the sixth best day walk in the world. This can only be maintained if all visitors are safe in all aspects of their visit.

"We all want visitors to have a great experience in the park and leave not only having enjoyed their visit but also having learned something about its significance, its values and its history. We are working collaboratively with the commercial transport and guiding sector to ensure the visitor experience is not only world class but safe," Mr Coutts says.

Ruapehu Area Commander Inspector Steve Mastrovich says police endorse the decisions made at the meeting, particularly the move to require concessionaires to belong to TACTAG.

"We believe this will empower the operators to apply consistent practices on the Crossing. We will continue to work with and support the group to provide safe experiences for visitors," he says.

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