A couple caught setting up camp on conservation land on Kapiti Island last evening could face prosecution following concerns regarding fire risk and threats to wildlife.
The pair, who were taken off the island after being discovered by Department of Conservation (DOC) staff assisted by a police search team member, had travelled by commercial boat to the island, claiming they were booked at the lodge on private land at the north end.
Kapiti Island north end
Deliberately ignoring the rules and with no actual booking, they disappeared while staff at the lodge checked for a booking, and were eventually found preparing to set up camp for the night. Overnight stays are not permitted on the island, other than at the lodge and with a permit obtainable from DOC.
DOC Kapiti Wellington visitor assets programme manager Wayne Boness said the actions of the pair were being taken “very seriously”, with the department considering prosecution and recovery of costs incurred.
“One of the biggest worries is fire risk with the dry conditions at the moment. The consequences of these people potentially lighting a fire was considered enough of a risk to warrant a search for them and their removal by helicopter."
The couple were found to be carrying cooking equipment and lighter, along with sleeping bags and a tent, and a helicopter was used to enable the glow from a fire or cooker to be spotted from above if that was required.
“While the couple had undergone standard biosecurity checks before departing for the island, including a bag self-check and introductory talk, not adhering to the rules could have serious conservation impacts.
“Biosecurity is really at the forefront on everyone’s minds at the moment with a stoat present on the island”.
While Mr Boness pointed out that it was not thought that the stoat arrived in anyone’s personal belongings, there were things visitors could do to help protect the island, including checking their bags, clothing and shoes for potential hitchhikers such as mice, rats, other animals or seeds and foliage from weeds before departing for the island. ENDS