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Norovirus outbreak on Travers-Sabine circuit

Pristine Blue Lake is one of the drawcords of the Travers-Sabine Circuit. Photo: David Hollis

Update: DOC has sterilised all huts on the circuit. Huts that have been treated are: Lakehead, Coldwater, Sabine, D’Urville, Hopeless, Cupola and Upper Travers. As a precation, Angelus Hut and Bushline Hut have also been treated. 

At least 34 people have been infected with the norovirus after walking the Travers-Sabine Circuit in Nelson Lakes National Park, prompting the Department of Conservation to warn trampers away from the popular walk.

The Department of Conservation has warning trampers to avoid the Travers-Sabine circuit in the Nelson Lakes National Park because of a suspected norovirus outbreak.

DOC Nelson Lakes Operations Manager John Wotherspoon said since last weekend, 34 people from the track have reported suffering vomiting and diarrhoea.  

“We are working closely with the Nelson DHB Health Protection officer who believes it is highly likely to be norovirus,” Wotherspoon said. “While it is not practical to close the circuit – we are now advising people to stay away from the area for at least a week to try and limit the outbreak. If they do enter, they are advised to tent camp away from the huts and bury their toilet waste at least 10m from the track and away from waterways.

“We are sending in cleaning crews to thoroughly disinfect the huts. It has been pleasing to hear that trampers are taking precautions and using the additional sanitisers and bleach that we put into the huts over the weekend.”

Although there have been no reports of illness in other parts of the park, it is possible the gastro bug has spread to huts in the nearby D’Urville and Matakitaki Valleys.

“There are notices at the track ends asking anyone who has been unwell to let us know and discouraging others from entering,” said Wotherspoon. “Thankfully we have had no reports of serious illness beyond vomiting and diarrhoea but it is a nasty bug and the fewer people who are exposed to this, or out there spreading it further, the better.

“It’s a busy time of the year and the huts are normally half to three quarters full. It usually takes people about five days to complete the circuit.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and will step up our response further if required.” says Mr Wotherspoon.