The popular Mount Alfred Track near Glenorchy has been closed to public access.
Mount Alfred/Ari (1375m) is part of the Earnslaw Station, a 6000ha section of pastoral land leased by Geoffrey Thomson, whose family has farmed the land since 1947. There’s a DOC-managed track that leads through the bush at the base of Mt Alfred/Ari, but past the bushline is pastoral land, managed by Thomson.
Before it was closed, it was understood that trampers would contact Thomson for permission to climb to the summit. There were signs up at the track, and at the visitor centre. However, in the past year, Thomson has become increasingly concerned with the number of trampers who haven’t bothered to ask for permission.
“What’s happened recently is, in the last 12 months, we’ve had an enormous increase in the number of people who were getting access onto the mountain through the DOC reserve, which is okay, as long as the people know what they’re doing,” Thomson explained. “But what we were getting is people getting lost, not knowing how to get back, and it was starting to concern us. The numbers were too great to manage easily.”
He said the popularity of Mt Alfred/Ari spread with the help of social media, and it was being treated as a public walkway. The steady flow of trampers compromised the livestock, and ultimately became too troublesome for Thomson to deal with.
Lindsay Jackson from Queenstown is the secretary for the Wakatipu Tramping Club, and has been up to Mt Alfred twice in the past year. She said the first time she went up, they called for permission. The second time, however, when they called to get permission, they just got an answer phone. But, they went up anyway.
“Because it’s a DOC track to the bushline, it’s a little bit confusing. And, when you tried to ring, you couldn’t get through,” Jackson said, adding that she’s sad to see it closed.
“It’s the icing on the cake to get to the top, because it has the most beautiful 360-degree views.”
With the public access now prohibited, the only way to the summit of Mt Alfred is on a guided walk with Glenorchy-based Wildlight Safaris.