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


Popular visitor sites in Southland are being destroyed because of inconsiderate four-wheel drive users, forcing DOC to rethink access rights to some areas.

Date:  18 November 2016

Over the past twelve months, significant parts of the Mavora Lakes and Borland areas have been damaged by vehicles. Instances of rubbish-tipping are also on the rise.

Grant Tremain, DOC Principal Ranger, Recreation/Historic (Fiordland District) said that while 4WD activity is allowed on certain areas of conservation land, these are restricted to tracks built and maintained for that purpose:

"Reckless and thoughtless four-wheel driving is causing significant damage to the landscape. There is a code of conduct for four-wheel driving, designed for the long-term sustainability of the activity, and the environment."

4WD damage at Mavora Lakes Conservation Park. Photo: Bill Jarvie.
4WD damage at Mavora Lakes Conservation Park
Image: Bill Jarvie

Damage to fence at Borland. Image: DOC.
Damage to fence at Borland
Image: DOC

"If this wilful destruction of the environment persists, we may have to review vehicle access to certain areas of conservation land. This is a shame as there are many responsible four-wheel drive users in New Zealand who would never consider causing this kind of damage," Grant Tremain said.

Four-wheel drivers are required to avoid sensitive areas, including alpine landscapes, swamps, waterways, sand dunes and river beds easily damaged by vehicles. Vehicles are also required to stay on tracks, and avoid widening them.

Bill Jarvie, Fish & Game Officer (Te Anau) said that he was very concerned about recent reports of 4WD activity at Mavora Lakes Conservation Park:

"Vehicles have been seen racing each other along the lakeside road, and there is clear evidence of destructive off-roading, and associated littering with bottles. Apart from the environmental impact this causes, this kind of activity puts the safety of legitimate park users at risk."

"The Mavora Lakes area is popular with families, locals and overseas visitors whether they be camping, tramping, fishing or horse-riding," Bill Jarvie said.

Those embarking on four-wheel driving are required to read and abide by the 4WD Care Code.

Anyone with information relating to prohibited 4WD activity should contact Grant Tremain.


Grant Tremain
Conservation Services Manager, Fiordland District
Phone: +64 3 249 0200

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