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Popular tracks unseasonably quiet

The beautiful, yet deadly, Omanawa Falls have long been closed to the public. This photo was taken when the trail to the falls was open in 2014.

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Notoriously busy tracks have experienced a massive reprieve from walkers, DOC reports.

The popular Roys Peak and Mt Iron tracks, in Wanaka, have experienced decreases of 42 per cent and 67 per cent respectively over the spring compared to the previous year.

Hooker Valley Track has experienced a 52 per cent drop, while visitors to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound and Franz Josef Glacier have seen drops of 72 and 66 per cent respectively.

Mark Morrison, the managing director of Wānaka adventure company Wildwire, told The Wānaka Sun the figures back up what he had experienced in the tourism industry.

“Prior to Covid, around 80 per cent of our business came from the international market, and only 20 per cent were Kiwis. Today, almost all are Kiwis, so that’s good they’re out there,” he said.

“If we don’t get the bubble with Australia, I’d say the rubber is going to hit the road and this will start to bite. But worse than no tourists would be another lockdown so we’re still grateful to be in an amazing position to be able to operate as normal.”

Man dies on closed waterfall track

Despite the efforts of local hapū Ngāti Hangarau, a man as died at Tauranga’s dangerous Omanawa Falls.

The man’s body was recovered by police at around 4pm on January 3, RNZ reports.

The falls can only be accessed via a steep cliff face, and the route has been permanently closed for safety reasons.

Despite this, a number of people have been seriously injured attempting to reach the falls, and one swimmer drowned there in 2018.

Local hapū Ngāti Hangarau have stationed themselves at the falls throughout summer, to deter visitors and educate them about the falls’s dangers and cultural significance.

Spokesperson Koro Nicholas told RNZ another death is bound to happen if people ignore the rules.

“We are there to try and stop people from going. Unfortunately, we can’t be there 24 hours a day. This death is an unfortunate occurrence, very sorry for the whānau that are involved. There’s no anger on our part, there are blatant warning signs there throughout the property,” he said.

“We try our best to deter people from going but we’ve found no matter how high you build the fence or wide you build the fence, people will always try to find a way to this very dangerous property.”

Nicholas said the pull of social media is to blame for the high number of visitors. On Instagram, more than 4100 photos are tagged #omanawafalls and the latest post was added on January 1.

Can drinking beer save your life?

Outside magazine has answered the survival question you never knew you had; should you drink beer in an emergency to rehydrate?

“Conventional wisdom has it that drinks containing alcohol and caffeine are diuretics: by making you have to pee, you lose more water than you’re consuming. If that’s true, then drinking beer or coffee in a survival scenario would be a bad idea, as it would only lead to worse dehydration,” author Wes Siler writes. 

A UK study tested the urine volume of 72 subjects after drinking a litre of either water, milk, coffee, 4-per cent beer, tea, orange juice, Coca-Cola, Powerade, or an oral hydration solution over the span of 30 minutes, and the results are surprising.

Apart from the milk and hydration solution, which both improved hydration, every other beverage resulted in the exact same water retention as water. Read the story here.

Trapped couple rescued from flooded track

A married couple has been rescued in Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve, East Otago, after becoming trapped by swollen rivers.

The trampers were flown to Dunedin by helicopter about 10am on January 3 after a LandSAR team reached them at Jubilee Hut at around 4am, Stuff reports

The couple stayed at the hut overnight Friday, but were unable to leave on Saturday due to high rivers. 

The alarm was raised at 3.55pm when the couple failed to return to Dunedin, and five volunteer LandSAR teams began searching on Saturday night.

Only one team was able to make it to the hut, due to flooding, and they alerted the rescue helicopter.