Date: 30 April 2014
Department of Conservation (DOC) staff are working to clear trees and slips on storm-damaged tracks including the Heaphy and Copland.
The Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park is not expected to fully reopen before 12 May 2014, postponing the 1 May opening for mountain biking.
The Copland Track in Westland Tai Poutini National Park is currently expected to be closed until 10 May.
“Re-opening the Heaphy and the Copland tracks as quickly as possible is our main priority and extra staff have been brought in from across the Department to help,” says Mike Slater, Department of Conservation (DOC) Services Director for the north and western South Island.
“The western section of the Heaphy Track (from Kohaihai River to Lewis Hut) has already been cleared and is now reopened, but extra care is needed on this section of track.”
Large areas of forest have been flattened by the severe storm on 17 April and several other tracks and access roads to national parks and conservation areas are also closed due to fallen trees and land slips. The storm was particularly severe in northwest Nelson and the West Coast but damage also occurred in Canterbury, the lower North Island, and the Bay of Plenty.
“We will work to re-open other affected tracks as soon as we can but, in some cases, it may take longer to bring them up to their usual standard,” says Mike Slater.
DOC staff are still checking tracks and assessing the full extent of the damage. Caution is required on all tracks in affected regions.
DOC asks that anyone encountering track damage in conservation areas please advise the local DOC office (providing photos and grid references if possible).
Refunds are being provided for hut bookings where track closures are in place.
People planning trips are advised to check with DOC visitor centres and local offices or the DOC website to get the latest information.
DOC Media Advisor Fiona Oliphant/Lizzy Sutcliffe, ph +64 3 371 3743, +64 27 470 1378