The article below appeared on Stuff today. To me, it seems a bit harsh pointing the finger at the transport operator, it's not as if this operation is acting as a mountain guide. Trampers are responsible for their own preparation and safety - and should check the weather forecasts themselves and be prepared appropriately.
An "ill-prepared" group of 16 people walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing were found soaked to the skin, with many in the early stages of hypothermia.
Police have criticised a tourism operator Tongariro Mountain Shuttle for dropping the group off on Saturday during severe weather conditions.
Weather in the area was hazardous with poor visibility, rain, strong winds and very cold temperatures.
The group were left at the Mangatepopo car park with the intention of walking 19km to their waiting cars at Ketetahi.
Inspector Steve Mastrovich said they were informed by the transport operator that the weather would improve and that they would be fine.
But when they reached the summit of Tongariro the weather had not improved.
Mastrovich said the group was inexperienced and lightly clad, some wearing shorts, others wearing jeans and none had any alpine clothing.
The group was soaked to the skin and many of them were in the early stages of hypothermia when police received an emergency call about 11.30am.
Two other trampers who came across the group provided warm clothing, before helping them down to South Crater where a Department of Conservation hut warden was waiting to help.
Search and Rescue teams from Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation then met the group near Soda Springs and gave them food, drink and warm dry clothing.
They were led back to the Mangatepopo car park where they were treated by three waiting ambulances.
Two women from the group were transported to Taupo Hospital for further treatment.
Mastrovich said the rescue happened on a day when other transport operators in the area had refused to deliver clients to the start of the crossing because of weather conditions.
Police were disappointed that Tongariro Mountain Shuttle dropped the group off, and Mastrovich said it would be discussed with the operator.
Encouraging ill-prepared and under-equipped people to go into an alpine environment was irresponsible and contrary to the practices of the local tourism operators, he said.
Tongariro Mountain Shuttle owner Kevin Gardiner said the trampers were adults, believed to be in their 30s, and he expected them to act responsibly when it came to their wellbeing.
Gardiner believed the group was properly dressed. They had woollen hats, jumpers and gloves, though he could not say whether anyone was wearing shorts.
He said he advised the group of the weather forecast and told them to call the company if they wanted to return.
"The weather forecast was actually read out to them: showers, clearing and strong winds in exposed places, dying away in the afternoon."