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New walk for Hokitika

The new bridge at Hokitika Gorge

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A new track has opened at Hokitika Gorge, giving walkers a greater experience of the scenic West Coast destination.

The 60-minute loop track expands on the old 15-minute track and includes a new 90m suspension bridge which spans the gorge.

The new track is being recognised as a DOC ‘Short Walk’, marking it as one of the country’s premier day trips.

The upgrades were undertaken by Westland District Council and DOC, and included an extension to the car park, upgrades to the access road and a new toilet block.

“DOC recognises this site is treasured by the people of Hokitika as a place to experience nature, and is an important attraction for visitors who come here to experience the beautiful turquoise water, mountains and bush as previous generations have also done,” DOC operations manager Nicole Kunzmann said. 

“The new track provides great views from many different spots in the gorge, and is a much longer walk, which we think people will love.”

Mine ‘under-bonded’ by DOC

A West Coast gold mine on conservation land has been under-bonded potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars by DOC, Newsroom reported.

The bond on the land in Mikonui Valley was set so low, DOC staff believed operators, NZG Ltd, would walk away if it was set at the correct level.

Despite the fact the mine has been signed off as rehabilitated, the large pit remains and has been described as a ‘moonscape’.

DOC said in internal correspondence that it had attempted to get NZG Ltd to rehabilitate the site in accordance with their approved Rehabilitation Management Plan: “NZG have submitted an Annual Work Programme and amendment to their Rehabilitation Management Plan that would see rehabilitation commence and rather than a natural-looking valley landform a basin would be left where the mine pit is located.”

The new plan didn’t include replanting.

“Due to costs and the presence of goats etc the area would be left to revegetate naturally, with gorse becoming established and dominating for the next ~30 years before being out-competed by self-seeded natives.”

Milford Track sells like hot cakes

Belated bookings for the Milford Track opened yesterday morning, leaving many trampers unlucky for another year.

DOC operations director Aaron Fleming told RNZ 2000 customers were logged in and ready when bookings went live at 9.30am.

“More than 500 bookings were made in the first five minutes and over 1000 bookings just after the 10 minute mark. By 10.30, about 97 per cent of the dates were full,” he said.

“Every year we see the peak periods – such as the Christmas and New Year break – book out within minutes and this year has been no exception.”

The Great Walks have proven popular this year. When eight of the tracks became available to book in June, DOC reported a 36 per cent increase in bookings compared to last season.

PLB sparks rescue on Tongariro Crossing

A tramper received an airlift on the Tongariro Crossing after becoming lost in thick bush.

The Greenlea Rescue Helicopter responded to the incident on Monday evening after a beacon was set off near Mangatepopo Hut.

After landing at the hut to gather information on the missing tramper, the helicopter took off again to search.

“After a short airborne search, the crew spotted a torchlight from the missing tramper in the heavy bush,” the Philips Search & Rescue Trust said on a Facebook post.

“The crew inserted the onboard Intensive Care Paramedic close to the target and he was able to bush bash his way to the missing man.

“The tramper was flown to the hut where he was reunited with the rest of his party, a great team effort making for a successful rescue mission and a very happy tramper.”

The world’s first floating backpack

A revolutionary backpack, which seemingly floats on air, has been tested by the team at Outside Magazine.

The HoverGlide uses tensioned bungee cords to reduce the up-down movement of packs, reportedly reducing vertical forces on the body by 80 per cent.

Though the 30-litre pack weighs over a kilogram, the reviewer found it ‘remarkably comfortable’.

The difference was particularly noticeable when the suspension was locked off.

“The difference was instantly and impressively noticeable. There’s no doubt that the mechanism really works,” reviewer Alex Hutchison said.