Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


When planning a trip in the Ruahine ranges, contact the local DOC office to find out about access requirements.

Date:  22 February 2010

Following a recent spate of incidents and search and rescue operations in the Ruahine ranges, and with the busy period for hunting fast approaching, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has a few safety and social reminders for forest park users.

While the Ruahine Forest Park is public land, the adjoining land is often privately owned farm or forestry. In many cases, public access is given through the goodwill of the landowner. In some instances, access is restricted during certain times such as lambing or calving season. In other cases, access through private land can only be made by prior arrangement.

If crossing private land to access a particular area of the park, it is important to respect the landowners’ requirements. Disturbance of livestock, open gates and waking landowners in the small hours are common complaints DOC Palmerston North Area Manager Jason Roxburgh gets to hear about. “It seems to be a small minority of people causing problems,” says Mr Roxburgh “however this kind of behaviour on private land will affect the continued use of such access in the future”.

When planning a trip in the Ruahine ranges, contact the local DOC office to find out about access requirements. In most cases, if prior arrangements are required contact details will be provided. It is important to contact DOC each time you want to visit the area, as details may have changed.

Kawhatau base.
Kawhatau base

One such change is the new restrictions on access to the Rangitane Road end. Between 20th March and 30th April people planning to take a trip to Kawhatau Base must contact the landowners to make prior arrangements for access. After 12 years of freely allowing access through their farm Liz and Alan Rennie have become increasingly frustrated over the last two years at people disrespecting their privacy and property. “There are those, primarily hunters during the roar, who take access as a given right with no respect for boundaries or property,” says Mrs Rennie. “Our apologies go out to the vast majority of people using our access who are fantastic to deal with; but unfortunately, we need to curtail the behaviour of the selfish few.” The gate will be locked during this period so you will not be able to enter if you have not contacted the landowners.

The “roar” occurs from late March through to the end of April, when there is a huge increase in hunting activity. This is the mating season for deer when they become more vocal and aggressive in their behaviour making them easier for hunters to spot. Trampers need to be aware of this both in terms of safety and because huts are often full. It is recommended that trampers wear high visibility clothing to ensure they can be seen and be prepared to camp if the huts are full. All park users should leave intentions with somebody - whether family, friends or DOC. Take extra supplies in case you are delayed, and ensure you have some form of emergency communication (remember that cell phone coverage is sporadic in the back country).

Hunters must have a permit from DOC, which can be issued over the phone or email. It is also important to complete the hut visitor books, even if you are only passing through. This is for your own safety so that search and rescue teams can track your movements if you have the misfortune of getting lost or injured in the hills. It also enables the department to measure hut and track use, to help determine how they will be maintained in the future.


Margaret Metcalfe

Manawatu Base
Phone:   +64 6 350 9700
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   717 Tremaine Avenue
Palmerston North 4414
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11010
Palmerston North 4442
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