Rachael Andrews and Marc Williams have got a mountain to climb to raise funds for Homes of Hope, a charitable organisation that support children in foster care.
The initial fundraising plan was to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in jandals. This idea has now taken a step sideways after safety concerns were raised by the Department of Conservation.
“We do not want stifle their creative idea but we can't let other walkers think they can take the alpine crossing lightly. We don't want copy cats.” says Bhrent Guy, Operations Manager, Tongariro District.
“The weather in the mountains can turn nasty at any moment and it's not the time to be wearing jandals. Rough volcanic rocks and uneven terrain can be quite challenging at the best of times.”
Several concerned citizens alerted the Department of Conservation to the well-meaning fundraiser, which could easily send out the wrong message to other visitors.
The fundraisers never intended to put themselves or others at risk and were quick to suggest an alternative fundraising angle.
Marc and Rachael are experienced hikers and had always planned to walk the crossing with a support team.
They will be well equipped for the crossing and now, instead of wearing jandals, will be carrying a colourful flag that have the footprints and handprints of the children on it.
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Constable Conrad Smith, National Park Police who runs the search and rescue operations in the park commented on the change in direction.
“It's good that Rachael and Marc have made a sensible decision that means our rescue volunteers won't have to give their time to rescue other people who may have copied the idea.”
“This has been a great opportunity to work with Rachael and Marc on a reaching a good solution. DOC cares about the safety of our visitors to the park,” says Bhrent.
The Department of Conservation and the Local Police invest in thousands of dollars of education material to encourage people to wear and use the right equipment for the alpine environment.