INDEPENDENT NEWS

Upper South Island Great Walks And Tracks Impacted By Heavy Rain

Published: Wed 21 Jul 2021 03:36 PM
The Heaphy Track is closed and the Queen Charlotte Track is only partially open due to damage from last weekend’s heavy rain.
The tracks are among a number of Department of Conservation (DOC) tracks, campsites and access roads in the top of the South Island damaged by the severe weather, with some closed.
DOC is advising people to check its website www.doc.govt.nz for the latest information on the status of tracks, campsites and access to conservation areas before heading into the outdoors.
The Paparoa Track is fully open. The Great Walk was closed between Smoke-ho car park and Pororari Hut on Monday (July 19) but this section reopened the following afternoon after rangers cleared fallen trees.
DOC is advising mountain bikers to take extra care as parts of the track are scoured and rutted from the rain and this will affect the ride line and stability.
DOC Western South Island Operations Director Mark Davies says the Heaphy Track has considerable storm damage between Kohaihai and the Heaphy Hut, with sections of track washed out, fallen trees and a large slip behind the staff hut at the Heaphy River mouth.
“A DOC team has started work to clear the track and make repairs but we’re still determining the extent of the work required to restore it. We’re not able to say yet how long the track might be closed. We are making repair work on the Great Walk a priority given its popularity for mountain biking at this time of year.”
DOC staff have been contacting people whose Heaphy Track hut bookings are affected by the closure to offer refunds or their bookings can be changed to another available date.
The Queen Charlotte Track is open between Camp Bay and Te Mahia Saddle but extra care and time is needed if walking or mountain biking the track due to multiple slips and the track not being up to its usual standard.
The Queen Charlotte Track sections between Meretoto/Ship Cove and Camp Bay and Anakiwa and Te Mahia Saddle could be closed until at least the end of September due to the extent of the damage and repairs needed. The track has slipped away in places so is impassable, there are cracks in the track, fallen trees and a bridge was washed out at Davies Bay.
Mark Davies said DOC staff had been out this week inspecting tracks and other sites for damage.
“We are working as quickly as we can to repair damage and reopen tracks but with a number of tracks and access roads affected it will take time to repair some tracks and roads.
“While we are still assessing and repairing damage, anyone venturing out on tracks could encounter slips, fallen trees and washed-out sections. People should take extra care and be prepared to turn back if the going is difficult or damage is impassable.”
Other tracks, campsites and access roads on the West Coast and in Tasman and Marlborough that are currently closed due to the storm damage are listed below. This is not a complete list and the situation is subject to change so people should check the DOC website or at local DOC visitor centres for up to date information.
· Oparara Road, Buller – closed.
· Kawatiri Beach Reserve Road, Buller – closed due to flooding.
· Abel Tasman Coast Track, Tasman – high tide track around Torrent Bay closed due to a slip.
· Mt Richmond Forest Park, Nelson Tasman-Marlborough – The Hacket Track and some access roads to the park are closed.
· Onamalutu Campsite, Marlborough – closed
· Wairau Lagoons, Marlborough – walking tracks accessed from Hardings Road closed due to flooding.
Repair costs are still being determined and there is no estimate at this time.

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