30 May 2003
Department of Conservation
Re: Tongariro National Park Plan Review
The Club would like to thank the Department for the recent opportunity to
present our views on the draft Tongariro National Park review. There are
several points that come up at the meeting that we would like to expand upon
to ensure that our views are clear.
1) With regards to Ruapehu Hut situated at Delta Corner, the Club
still considers that the plan does not reflect the specific character
of the hut and its user group.
Ruapehu Hut is a mountain hut – it consists of an entrance
vestibule area with a drying room and a single
living/kitchen/sleeping room. Although it does have electricity it
does not have showers or carpet, and the only fridge is the snow
outside in winter. The hut is most usually accessed by foot via a
two hour walk from the road.
The fact that the hut is situated in the middle of a ski field above a
large number of ski lodges is seen by Club members as an
anomaly, not a reason for it to be lumped into the same
classification as the ski lodges.
It should also be noted that the hut is exempted from the Iwikau
2) Under section 4.1.14 of the Plan the requirement is that "all
effluent should be collected for removal for treatment outside the
park within five years of this plan becoming operative". We accept
and agree with the intent of this provision, but it may be a
challenge to achieve the timeframe for the Club’s two huts. The
Club would need time to gather funds and plan for the installation
of closed vault systems, bearing in mind the low current low
occupancy rate for Whangaehu Hut in particular.
Help from the Department in this regard, and perhaps a revision of
the strict five year term to ‘over the life of the plan’ may be in order.
3) The Club does not support a snow road between the two major ski
fields on the mountain. There are many reasons for this position
including the impacts of incremental development, environmental
degradation and safety.
We understand the route proposed is approximately the 2300m
contour between the top of Whakapapa Ski Field and Turoa Ski
Field. This terrain contains a large number of physicals hazards
such as steep slopes and cliffs. Combined with the changeable
weather conditions in the central North Island, the level of safety
for unskilled users can only be described as marginal. Skilled ski
tourers do not need a road.
The road would need to be formed, and regularly maintained, with
large snow groomers, and then patrolled while it was open with
noisy ski mobiles. All this mechanised transport impacts on the
natural quiet and unmodified natural environment for which the
park should be preserved in the first instance.
Huge compromises have been made within the park to allow ski
field facilities, and a snow road should certainly not be added to
the list of man made modifications to the parks landscape.
Thank you again for your consideration and I hope that this letter clarifies
your questions from the submission hearing. Please do not hesitate to
contact us with any further questions or queries relating to the position of the
New Zealand Alpine Club.
Recreation Advocacy Convenor