Department of Conservation introduce four-hour parking time limit for Tongariro Crossing

Tourists stream across the busy Tongariro Crossing on Easter Sunday, when queues for toilets stretched to the dozens.
TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/FAIRFAX NZ

Tourists stream across the busy Tongariro Crossing on Easter Sunday, when queues for toilets stretched to the dozens.

Tongariro hikers who park for longer than four hours at the start of the crossing will now have their wheels clamped.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has introduced a four hour parking restriction to try and stem the problem of overcrowding on the hugely popular walk - one of New Zealand's nine 'Great Walks'.

DOC say the vehicle crowding at both ends had adversely impacted on people's enjoyment of the hike and forced the implementation of this measure.

Tongariro Crossing hikers will have their cars wheel clamped if they park for longer than four hours.
TOM LEE/STUFF

Tongariro Crossing hikers will have their cars wheel clamped if they park for longer than four hours.

It'll mean people planning to hike the entire Tongariro Alpine Crossing this summer - from October 21 to April 30, 2018 - will now have to pay for one of the shuttle bus services to get to the start of the track [The Mangatepopo carpark].

READ MORE:
Overcrowding a growing issue in New Zealand's national parks
New Zealand's greatest gifts: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
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However, they can still leave a vehicle at the end of the track. It takes around eight hours to hike the entire crossing.

The increasing popularity of the track has seen the restrictions implemented.
TOM LEE/STUFF

The increasing popularity of the track has seen the restrictions implemented.

It won't impact those wanting to enjoy short walks.

But it's outraged some local trampers.

Hiker Katie Kaliniak said the decision was "very, very disappointing".

"When my husband and I did it, our shuttle bus ran 45 minutes to 1 hour late leaving and we vowed the next time to drive so that we could start our tramp on time. A big shame this is where it's heading."

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Another hiker Jenni Funnell also disagreed with the decision.

"As a family we like to go down there walk or run the crossing a few times a year . Shuttle bus is going to be an extra cost and also you have to go their times."

 

DOC operations manager Bhrent Guy said they were trying to make the Tongariro Crossing an enjoyable experience for everyone.

They couldn't make more car parks in the area so he warned people to abide by the parking restrictions or there would be action taken. 

 

Colin Baker, owner of Ruapehu Scenic Shuttles which is run out of Owhango, Taumarunui said the change would make it easier for transport operators to keep to time schedules.

"This is the only way it could go. I understand the frustration from people but there's no greed to this decision."

Baker said the change would mean more accountability for shuttle providers who would need to make sure people doing the crossing were accounted for.

He said some transport providers, who ran one-way shuttles, were more of a 'drop and forget' service.

"[They] don't know if that person made it to the other side but when you drop off and pick up, there's more accountability."

Paula Burnett runs the Embrace Hiking Group in Taupō and said their planned trip to the crossing in November would be impacted by the change.

"It may discourage people from joining Embrace Hiking on the Tongariro crossing walk, which would be a shame," she said.

"But as a lover of New Zealand's natural beauty, I have seen the Crossing in peak season and it breaks my heart to see it so worn down and covered with rubbish.

"But mostly it's the toilet paper scattered from start to finish. I think the ban of car parking will help to keep numbers to a level that the environment can handle."

The shuttle services will operate from Whakapapa, National Park Village, Turangi, Taupo, Ohakune and Raetihi. 

Shuttles take visitors to the start, at Mangatepopo Road end and pick them at the end of the hike from Ketetahi Road end.  Information on all approved operators is available from the i-sites around the region and on the DOC website.

* Comments on this article have been closed.

 - Stuff

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