The C Word!

Covid changed the world but cancer changed our lives


First there were whispers of this disease in China.  We thought there might be a few changes to this market for us.  Then there was panicked talk of world wide spread... finally covid arrived in NZ.  

Our response was swift.  We knew this was going to be something we have never faced before.  

Our son Jake trying to stay safe for our last few days before New Zealand went into lockdown the first time.

We were lucky to have a firewood business that we were able to move most of our staff to until they found other employment.  Over the year that followed we were able to sell most of our buses  and move all of our communications to online bookings only.  The winter passed with us just focussing on firewood.  As the first covid summer approached we had to decide whether to continue to operate or to hibernate or close forever.  

In New Zealand the borders were closed for two seasons.  There was enough interest from locals to run our Ketetahi one way shuttles only.  New Zealanders like the freedom this option provides.  All return shuttles stopped.  We only had one or two small buses running in the morning only.  It was actually a relaxing time that gave us an opportunity to rethink our future.  Then another c word hit!

CANCER...  worst news, best timing!  I got diagnosed with Multiple myeloma in January 2021.

Tongariro Expeditions was now a small little business, easy to manage and all no contact.  I was able to continue running it while going through treatment. 

Mandy during the stem cell transplant

We had loyal drivers that continued to drive for us so that me and Jared could go away and focus on resting and enjoying this beautiful country.

Jared and myself, Mandy, have been running Tongariro Expeditions since 1997.  The tourism landscape has changed a lot since then.  Our small little business grew and grew and we were left running to keep up with it.  Covid offered a chance to stop running and to take stock of how we want our lives to be.  

Now that the borders are open again and the business is growing again, we have kept some of the lessons we learnt.  You will notice we do not have a phone line.  We encourage emails as the main communication platform.  This is so that we do not have to be answering phones all day long.  All bookings are online, this saves all the paper work of the past.  We have a cap on numbers, this is being imposed by DOC and local Iwi but we are fully in support of it.  It's better for the environment, our visitors and the over all experience.  

We love what we do and we are excited to welcome everyone back again.  I am well again but much much wiser.  

Here's to many more years of sustainably taking hikers to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing for years to come.  

Posted by Mandy Tongariro Expeditions on September 30, 2023