The longest Great Walk in New Zealand, the 78.4km Heaphy Track, is in store for major improvements.
DOC’s Heaphy Great Walk Project will result in three huts being replaced, five new suspension bridges being built and upgrades to the track all to be completed in the next three years.
DOC project manager Matthew Sledmore said the project will cost “close to $2 million” and will help the department cater to all of its user groups.
The project is part of DOC’s strategy of focusing on ‘Gateway’ sites such as the Great Walks, which introduce people to the outdoors and to learning more about conservation.
Sledmore said the current huts date back to the 1960s and are becoming too costly to maintain and do not comply with DOC’s internal standards.
The programme will begin with the replacement of Perry Saddle Hut with a 28 bed hut commencing in late 2011. Replacement of Heaphy Hut will follow with a new 32 bed hut in mid 2012.
Finally, James Mackay Hut will be replaced with a 28 bed hut in 2013.
Sledmore said DOC is considering hydro and solar power for the new huts.
Swingbridges at Gunner, Swanburn, Lewis, Heaphy and Murray will be replaced with new fixed-deck suspension bridges.
They will put an end to the one person load limits and provide users with easier access and more confidence when making the crossings.
The new bridges will mean mountain bikers will be able to cross with their bikes at their sides.