FMC, along with other interested organisations and individuals, has been talking to DOC and Ruapehu Alpine Lifts regarding access to Tongariro National Park.
Ruapehu Alpine lifts has implemented a free-of-charge booking system for parking at Whakapapa and Turoa ski-fields for peak times at weekends until the end of September, while DOC has implemented a 3hr parking restriction in Whakapapa village.
FMC applauds Ruapehu Alpine Lifts and DOC for actually doing something to attempt to ease the congestion. Nobody wants the Park to be a circus.
FMC is happy with how discussions of our interests have been responded to. RAL has reduced the hours the parking booking system will be operational to weekend mornings only, and removed plans to lock carparks after ski-field closure (except for carpark 1 at Whakapapa). DOC has implemented a permit system for long-term parking at Whakapapa, mirroring the solution provided during summer for the Mangatepopo road-end. In the future, we will be exploring whether DOC’s may need to be modified so people don’t need to visit Whakapapa Visitor Centre during opening hours to get a permit.
The changes have been implemented quickly and there may well still be rough edges to knock off. We haven’t attempted to cover all the detail in the brief post above but are happy to attempt to answer any questions you have. We are also keen to hear your experiences of access to the mountain, which will help us in our ongoing discussions. We will also be writing up the access issues, including the current approach to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing for a future edition of Backcountry.