Manage episode 244765514 series 2098282
Taupō Police Senior Constable Barry Shepherd said the 51-year-old woman's body was found yesterday afternoon near the Red Crater after she was reported overdue earlier in the day.
He said a group of four Chinese tourists set off to complete the Tongariro Northern Circuit on Friday.
Three of the tourists returned to Whakapapa Village on Saturday and one chose to carry on, he said.
She was reported overdue on Sunday morning and her body was found yesterday afternoon near Red Crater.
Red crater is one of several active craters on top of Mt Tongariro in the Tongariro National Park and is the highest point of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
He said the incident was under investigation by police and the death had been referred to the Coroner.
Kaumātua of Ngati Hikaio Te Ngaehe Wanikau said a rāhui had been put in place over the crossing following the death.
He said this would remain until 6am Thursday morning.
The rāhui was a sign of respect for those who had lost a loved one and allowed the people to mourn and grieve, he said.
"After a tragedy on the mountain, this was always protocol and it was good that people respected the process of the tikanga."
He said the alpine environment on the crossing could be "dangerous" as the weather could change in a flash.
Tongariro Guided Walks owner Terry Blumhardt said the weather conditions up the mountain on Saturday were extremely unsafe. He said throughout the day wind gusts got up to 90km/h, with more than 50mm of rainfall by the Red Crater.
The wind chill got as cold as -7C, he said.Blumhardt, who also worked heavily in rescue operations on the mountain, said it was a common theme that hikers were making bad choices around weather.
He said tourists often on tight schedules would choose to ignore the danger that comes with awful weather conditions and find themselves in trouble. Blumhardt's business would not be operating over the next few days to show respect for the rāhui, but also as the weather was not looking great.
He said people needed to equip themselves with preparation and good planning when taking on the mountain.
It was important to have a good understanding of conditions, dress appropriately and always let someone know your plans, he said.
He said it was massively vital for people to stick with a group as collectively people can help each other, stock more gear and also be easier to find for rescuers.