All the major Department of Conservation (DOC) managed tracks in the Wakatipu basin are now open and cleared for use over the coming summer.
Queenstown Visitor Centre Manager Clare Manners says, “We are pleased to advise that all the main tracks in the Wakatipu, including the Routeburn, Greenstone/Caples and Rees/Dart tracks, are all ready for public use”.
Clare adds, “Over winter and spring we experienced a lot of snow and wind damage that resulted in most tracks being blocked by fallen trees. The high snowfall also meant the avalanche danger remained high.
“The extensive windfalls on the main tracks have now been cleared, making it much easier for trampers to complete their walk. Tree damage has also been cleared from many local short walks including Bobs Cove and Mt Crichton.
“We are also pleased to announce that the extension of McKellar Hut on the Greenstone Track is now complete. The new hut is looking great, and has 24 bunks available for overnight use. While we are still working on the finishing touches, the public are able to use the hut.
“In general, the avalanche danger has subsided. Some small sections of the Routeburn Track remain signed as ‘no stopping zones’. This means you need to move quickly through that section, however you will no longer need to fly by helicopter over areas of avalanche risk.”
Clare adds a note of caution. “There may still be significant tree and track damage that has not been cleared, particularly for remote places such as the Rock Burn, Beans Burn and Earnslaw Burn. Tramping times in these areas may be longer than expected. Backcountry travel should always be undertaken with care. Changes in conditions may make some places unsafe, particularly in alpine areas.”
For the very latest in track conditions, hut tickets and great walk bookings the Queenstown Visitor Centre summer opening hours are 8:30am to 6pm 7 days a week. It is located at 38 Shotover Street on the upper level of the Outside Sports Building and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Routeburn, Rees/Dart and Greenstone/Caples tracks are popular tracks for visitors to the Wakatipu. Last year the Routeburn received over 15,000 overnight trampers – of which about one third were New Zealanders. The Rees/Dart received nearly 2,000 overnight visitors and over 3,500 people stayed at least one night on the Greenstone/Caples circuit.
Each track receives a much larger number of day visitors who will park at the road end and spend up to a day exploring a short section of the overall track.