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Great Walk to reopen after six-month closure

Photo: Michal Klajban, Creative Commons

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

It’s good news for Te Urewera and for Lake Waikaremoana Track – the two will reopen after a lengthy shutdown.

You’ll be able to access Lake Waikaremoana again from Waitangi Day after Te Urewera closed in August due to the arrival of the Delta variant.

The Great Walk will reopen a week later, though Tūhoe, who are guardians of the region, say the track needs more funding. They receive $2.5 million per year for resources, and say DOC used to receive $7 million per year when Te Urewera was a national park.

“You can’t really justify a downgrading of resourcing over the last seven years in any way,” says Te Urewera Board Chair Tāmati Kruger. RNZ has more on this story.

Your mission: to protect world’s clearest water from lake snot

DOC has employed a new warden with a unique role – to try and protect Blue Lake from falling victim to the algal invader known as lake snow or lake snot.

Blue Lake, in Nelson Lakes National Park, is known to have the clearest freshwater in the world. Previously, volunteer wardens had been keeping an careful eye on this pristine body of water, but now DOC have employed Kylie Batt as its chief protector. This is because the algae has now been spotted in nearby lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa, contaminating them with sludgy slime.

Lake snow spreads when people fail to wash and dry clothes and gear that has been in contact with contaminated water. And people are being warned not to walk on the dry lake bed during the hot summer.

“It can stay in your gear for a really long time,” says Batt. “So for people walking on the lake bed, it looked dry but it wasn’t completely, and if their gear wasn’t dry, the lake could rise and then get infected.”

Read the full story on Stuff.

Prison for plant thief

A plant poacher has been jailed for two years for stealing US$150,000 (NZ$228,000) worth of plants from state parks in California.

Byungsu Kim tried to smuggle the plants to South Korea with two accomplices. The thieves were found with 3715 Dudleyas – plants that take years to grow in nurseries, so are often stolen to be sold on the black market.

Though Kim had his passport confiscated after his arrest, he managed to get a new one by telling the South Korean consulate that he’d lost his old one. He then fled to Mexico on foot, then flew to China and back to South Korea.

It was only after he was later convicted of plant smuggling in South Africa that he was extradited to the US and held in custody.

Who killed Kaikōura’s seals?

There’s an interesting article in Stuff on the recent history of seal killings along the coast near Kaikōura.

It comes as neither police nor DOC are any nearer to discovering who shot dead eight of the mammals in late October or early November last year, despite offering a $5000 reward. A further 11 animals were found dead in suspicious circumstances.

Seeing seals basking on the rocks and beaches is one of the highlights for visitors to the South Island town, but some people regard the animals as a pest.

Two teams finding new commercial route up Cho Oyu

Climbing the iconic 8188m Himalayan summit of Cho Oyu is currently at a standstill. The only commercial route up the world’s sixth highest mountain is from China, which currently has strict border closure due to Covid.

But luckily, one side of it is in Nepal, and two groups are currently trying to find routes to the summit from the south.

Though the groups are following different routes up the lower flanks, they may join forces at the top. Read more here.