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Final section of Te Araroa complete

The final leg of Te Araroa will son be completed.

A wrap of the biggest stories and best writing about the outdoors from New Zealand and around the world. 

Construction on the southernmost length of Te Araroa Trail will be completed this month.

The 26km walking and cycling track between Invercargill and Bluff has been 11 years in the making, and will take walkers off the main highway.

Cyclist Ray Robinson told Stuff the track was “bloody good”.

“The track’s a blessing both for the [motorists] and people who like to get out and exercise.”

Funding for the track has come from Te Araroa Trails Trust, Invercargill City Council, Environment Southland, NZTA, Invercargill Licensing Trust and Community Trust Southland.

Plans for an official opening are in place, but a date is yet to be confirmed.

DOC outlines protocol for Great Walks at Level 2

With the Great Walk season approaching, DOC has outlined what trampers can expect under Covid Alert Level 2.

DOC’s Tim Bamford said masks will be essential in huts, though admits it is “not practical” to expect trampers to wear masks while sleeping or eating in the hut.

“They should do their best to physically distance, clean surfaces regularly and wear a face covering as much as practically possible,” he said.

DOC is also asking hut guests to keep a distance of 2m from other parties, and huts will have a cap of 50 people, meaning Pinnacles Hut in the Coromandel and Luxmore Hut will operate on a limited capacity.

Bookable huts will display a QR code for contact tracing. Intentions books will be used in other huts. 

DOC huts do not currently have a vaccination mandate, but considerations may be made in the future.

Read the full story here.

Native bats enter Bird of the Year competition

For the first time ever, New Zealand’s native pekapeka will run in Forest & Bird’s famous Bird of the Year competition.

It is the first time a New Zealand native land mammal has been included in the lineup.

“New Zealand’s bats are incredible, and they are in big trouble,” Forest & Bird’s Laura Keown said. “They live side-by-side with our native birds, roost in hollow trees, and only come out at night to feast on insects.  

“But many people don’t even know they exist. Maybe that’s how they snuck into the competition under cover of darkness.”  

Voting opens next Monday, October 18, and runs until the end of the month.

Ben Lomond monument destroyed by lightning

A lightning bolt has destroyed the plinth on top of Queenstown’s Ben Lomond, Otago Daily Times reports.

Queenstown geographer Phil Parent climbed Ben Lomond on September 30, only to become disoriented by the absence of the plinth.

‘‘There was about 25cm of wind-packed snow at the top and I couldn’t see any traces of concrete, schist or the bronze range finder,” he said.

‘‘One small chunk of concrete, about the size of a bowling ball, was exposed in the lee of a wind drift.’’

He returned to the summit in better conditions to find the remnant of the plinth 20m from the top.

‘‘Looking up I saw another, larger piece,” he said. ‘‘They had been ripped apart and blown away.’

‘‘Must have been a massive jolt — kind of like Gandalf at Weathertop.’’