Mount Tauhara reopens to walkers
After a year of being closed off due to vandals, Taupo's iconic Mount Tauhara will again be open to the public.
The mountain was closed in December 2014 following a spate of vandalism, in the form of vegetation clearing.
Mount Tauhara, stewarded by Tauhara Mountain and Tauhara Middle 15 trusts, sits on private land which is culturally significant to the Tauhara hapu.
Trustees said following a period of rest for the maunga, they would now re-open 2.5km track to the 1088m summit, which offers panoramic views over Lake Taupo and across the central North Island.
The trustees said access would remain free for visitors for the time being, but a fee could be introduced in the future to assist with the cost of upkeep of the trails.
"Long-term, the commitment and vision is to safeguard, restore and enhance Tauhara Maunga," Trust spokesman Topia Rameka said.
"It remains a dream to be able to re-introduce native species lost to the area and to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
"To enable this, the trust has recently invested in an ecological assessment of the mountain. The next step in the process is to remove the wilding pines and develop a restoration and management plan."
Rameka said people should be careful on the track.
"The track up the maunga is challenging and the first part crosses an operational farm where stock and farming operations have the right of way.
"As hosts we want people to be safe, but visitors must realise that they are responsible for their own wellbeing and prepare accordingly.
"Weather can change quickly and it's important that people go prepared when they walk to the summit," he said.
"Plan the day, let someone know where you're going and make sure you are of reasonable fitness."
To mark the opening of the track the trustees have installed a new information sign with key messages noting that Tauhara Maunga is an ancestral, culturally significant mountain and is to be respected.
They wanted people to enjoy, but respect the mana of the place.
Taupo Mayor David Trewavas said the re-opening was "great news for the district".
"The Great Lake Centre gets approached all the time with people wanting to climb the mountain," he said.
"It [opening the mountain] is very much appreciated and we need to make sure everyone looks after it."