Te Urewera Board announced today that Te Urewera will welcome back manuhiri (guests) and Tūhoe users for recreational
activity in February, including on Lake Waikaremoana, noting that it will be keeping a watching brief on the developing
Omicron situation and any risks for local communities.
It is the Board’s intention that access to Lake Waikaremoana will re-open on Sunday 6 February (Waitangi Day) and all
tracks, huts and camp grounds, including the Great Walk, will re-open from 14 February.
Te Urewera was closed by Te Urewera Board at the beginning of COVID-19 Alert Level 4 in August to ensure the safety of
vulnerable local communities and manuhiri, and remained closed while local vulnerable communities prepared for the Delta
variant and remedial infrastructure maintenance was completed over summer.
“We remain grateful for the patience and friendship demonstrated during the past months by the many people who love Te
Urewera,” Te Urewera Board chair Tāmati Kruger said. “Tūhoe and Te Urewera Board acknowledge the sacrifice of those who
have respected the closure, despite foregoing family occasions, regular visits, and annual events such as the
Waikaremoana fishing competition.”
Mr Kruger said that health and safety would continue to be the paramount consideration in terms of access to Te Urewera
during the summer. Te Urewera is home to Tūhoe communities, including some of the country’s most remote and vulnerable
populations during the current pandemic.
“Anxiety about the new strain of COVID remains, but considering the role of Te Urewera as a unique place of recreation,
enjoyment, learning and spiritual reflection to the public who have played their part, and the values of manaakitanga
(welcoming), it is the Board’s decision Te Urewera should be re-opened.”
Mr Kruger added an appeal to guests returning to Te Urewera or visiting for the first time.
“As reported in media, some huts were left in a shocking state by a minority of guests in the winter season. We
discovered vandalism, including the removal of water faucets from the hut atop Mount Panekire, a poor welcome for
trampers who have scaled 1400m to reach it during the Great Walk around Waikaremoana.”
“While there is little we can do to prevent weather damage to tracks and tree falls, there are things everyone can do to
respect Te Urewera and ensure they are not hurting the environment or ruining the experience for others.”
Mr Kruger reminded guests to pack-in-and-pack-out anything they used in Te Urewera, and avoid plastics, and check boats
are clean before going onto the lake.