The Department of Conservation is considering a partial plan change for Tongariro National Park in response to concerns raised by the Ruapehu District Council, local groups and iwi over cyclists and walkers on the Mountain Road.
The plan change would enable shared walking and off-road cycling in three locations: Turoa to Ohakune; a loop section that adds to the Old Coach Road; and a short missing section near National Park. It also includes potentially allowing e-bikes on conservation land.
According to DOC, the Turoa to Ohakune track would be 22km long, and would be comprised of a mixture of existing, historic and new trails to provide Round the Mountain walkers an alternative to the road and extend the Mountains to the Sea cycle trail. The route would start from the Turoa Skifield base area, following the Mangawhero Valley to the Waitonga Falls Track, then along the Old Blyth Track and Bennett and Punch Tramway, finishing near the Ohakune Field Centre.
The proposed loop section would be from Mountain Road to Horopito, creating an 11km circuit with the Old Coach Road. It would connect the proposed Mountains to the Sea extension and use sections of the historic Cowan’s and Bennett and Punch tramlines.
The proposed ‘Missing Link’ track would be from Horopito to National Park and include a 600m section linking with the Mountains to Sea Trail.
“Several submissions raised wider issues around updating the entire plan but the timing was not right to make new wide sweeping policy changes when the pressing issue is off road cycling and walking” Alan Munn, DOC Operations Director, Central North Island said in a statement.
DOC is hosting an open day for stakeholders to go over the proposed plans. DOC will conduct a partial review of the current park management plan and complete a full review later, once the outcome of treaty settlements is known.
To provide comment regarding the proposed changes, email TNPMPpartialreview@doc.govt.nz by May 29.