Heavy snowfall from winter storms has done a number on Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park. Several tracks were damaged, making access to tracks and huts difficult.
DOC has 16 current alerts for the East Coast park, most of which refer to sections of tracks that have been washed away or blocked by treefall.
Kohu Kohiti, a DOC ranger from the Whirinaki district, said the weather this year has been the worst experienced in 10 years.
It’s brought down a whole heap of trees, mainly in our backcountry section,” Kohiti said, adding that there are also several areas of washout. Most of the tracks are still open despite the damage, but he says travel time is now increased by at least a couple hours on most tracks to negotiate the treefall and areas of washout.
One of the damaged areas is Arohaki Lagoon Track, which has a washout five minutes from the start of the track near the footbridge, and there’s a fallen rimu tree halfway along the track. The Moerangi mountain bike track is closed to both walkers and bikers from Moerangi Hut to Whirinaki Waterfall Loop Track. Work is underway to clear that trail, and Kohiti was hopeful it would be completed by the middle of November. Other damaged tracks include the trails to Central Whirinaki Hut, Mangakahika Hut, and Mangamate Hut.
Kohiti said he had to recruit help from other districts, including local volunteers and Department of Corrections volunteers from Whakatane.
“It’s been slow moving but we’ve boosted our calls for help in other districts, so we have other offices lending a hand where they can, which is great.”
Kohiti recommended that anyone heading to Whirinaki should check the DOC website for a full list of current alerts.