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Bed bugs return to Great Walks

Bed bugs may have returned to North Arm Hut despite DOC spending $30,000 on treating the hut a couple of months ago.

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Bed bugs have once again been discovered at two Great Walk huts.

North Arm Hut on Rakiura and Luxmore Hut on the Kepler Track have received treatment for the pesky bugs, and wardens have been checking North Arm Hut daily.

‘‘Only one recent visitor has received bites while staying at the hut, but we’re still taking this very seriously,’’ DOC’s Dale Chittenden said.

‘‘Bed bugs are known hitchhikers and notoriously tricky to get rid of, so we’re requesting visitors check their gear to make sure bedbugs are not coming in or out of huts and other accommodation.’’

The news that North Arm Hut may have bed bugs comes as a surprise. Wilderness reported in the recent November issue that DOC had recently spent $30,000 trying to eliminate them from the hut. 

Hut users are advised to leave gear outside huts where possible, clean and regularly air their gear.

Read more here.

Closed Lake Waikaremoana sets tentative reopening date

Lake Waikaremoana and Te Urewera, which have been closed by Tūhoe, may reopen in mid-summer.

The closure has seen boat ramps, track entrances and camping areas barricaded and the Great Walk shut down.

The Ngāi Tūhoe website states it is not currently resourced to deliver its manuhiri [guest] service, and the closure stems from an issue that Te Urewera Board, Tūhoe and DOC were attempting to solve before lockdown.

The closure follows years of tramper complaints about the quality of the huts and facilities on the Great Walk. 

Te Uru Taumatua chairman Tamati Kruger hopes Te Urewera will reopen in late January.

“Our regional health professionals are doing the best they can with limited resources, and Tūhoe are working round the clock to prepare local communities for the country opening up after the end of the elimination strategy,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Doctor fakes hypothermia in attempt to be rescued

A doctor is facing federal charges after allegedly making a false report of hypothermia in an attempt to receive a helicopter rescue in Denali, Alaska.

The New York Post reports that  Dr. Jason Lance was descending from an attempt on the Denali summit when he made the allegedly false claims on a satellite device, near Denali Pass.

Lance reportedly told the Park Service he didn’t have the right gear to descend safely, and was told no helicopter would be flying to his location, to which he replied “patients in shock. Early hypothermia.” 

Lance reportedly believed the Park Service was obligated to rescue him because he had paid his fees, but was eventually persuaded to descend with other climbers.

He now faces charges of false reporting to prompt a rescue. 

Marine mammal sanctuary confirmed for Bay of Islands

The controversial Bay of Islands marine mammal sanctuary is going ahead, in an attempt to protect bottlenose dolphins.

The sanctuary, which will cover an area from Cape Brett to Tikitiki Island, including the waters of Rāwhiti, Russell, Ōpua, Paihia and Kerikeri, was supported by just over 60 per cent of the 645 submissions, 

“Vessels are to maintain a 300m distance from all marine mammals. People are to keep out of the water within 300m of all marine mammals and vessels are to keep to a 5 knot speed limit, in two marine mammal safe zones,” conservation minister Kiri Allan said.

DOC believes bottlenose dolphins are on the verge of local extinction, declining from 278 individuals in 1997 to 26 last year. 

The sanctuary has faced criticism from marine biologists, who believe there are better ways to protect the species.

Read more here.