Swiss tourists' bikes seized, fined $400 each after tearing through Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Two Swiss tourists have lost their bikes after cycling along a restricted part of one of Aotearoa's most famous heritage trails.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) said they caught the pair in video footage making the 'embarrassing mistake' of biking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, where it is an offence to use any vehicle, including a bicycle, off formed roads. They were fined $400 each and had their bikes confiscated.

DoC Tongariro Operations Manager George Taylor said the track had clear signage warning not to use bikes and the tourists would have had to traverse hundreds of steps, and pass numerous walkers, without encountering a single other cyclist.

Trampers walking the trail watched them in "bemusement" as they sped past through the Tongariro National Park's "sacred landscape", DoC said.

"Bicycles on walking tracks can damage sensitive alpine environments, present a safety risk to trampers," Taylor said, "and are generally disrespectful of this taonga national park".

"It's an affront to those working to protect the fragile environment and cultural significance of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing."

The tourists were biking out from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
The tourists were biking out from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Photo credit: D van der Lubbe/DoC

Taylor said the two were defensive at first when approached by a DoC compliance officer but respectfully cooperated.

DoC had recently implemented a booking system for the alpine crossing, which it said would improve management for the site.

Taylor said the tourists could have avoided their mistake by booking and reading the safety and cultural information provided.