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Ruining it for the rest of us – why a camping hot spot might have to close

Mangatutu Hot Pools. Photo: Lauren Bucholz, DOC

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It’s a massively popular spot where you can enjoy hot springs for free, but access to Hawkes Bay’s Mangatutu Hot Springs is in jeopardy after a surge of idiotic behaviour.

Recent reports of drunk and disorderly behaviour, damaging trees, defacing signs, lighting fires and hunting without permits mean DOC is now considering closing the site altogether.

This would be terrible news for trampers because, as well as losing access to the pools, it would also restrict access to the likes of Te Puia Lodge and Mangatainoka Hot Springs, as the Te Puia Track would also be shut at this point.

“It would be a real shame if we had to close such a great site because of the unruly conduct of a few people,” said Hawke’s Bay District Manager, Tryphena Cracknell.

“We’re appealing to the public directly here; please don’t make us close the campsite. If you notice any bad behaviour, call 0800 DOC HOT or inform the police.” Read more here

New track will restore access to Ōtaki Forks

In better news, a new walking track is nearly complete to allow trampers to reach a popular access point to the Tararua Ranges.

Two large slips have blocked the road to Ōtaki Forks, a western entrance to the forest park, since September 2020.

But a new 4km walking trail from Blue Bluff crosses both slips and should be complete this month. It’ll be opened once authorities are satisfied it’s as safe as it can be.

“The new track will require some caution, a reasonable level of fitness and some confidence around heights,” Glen O’Connor, from Kāpiti Coast District Council, told RNZ. “We’ve had specialist track builders do the work and when complete it will be similar terrain to the Paekākāriki Escarpment Track. We expect this work to be complete in July and be well-established by summer,” Read more at RNZ

Half a million needed to repair West Coast track

A landslip has also been responsible for a headache on the West Coast, as authorities work out what to do about a popular Greymouth walking and mountain bike track.

The 5.5km Point Elizabeth Walkway is a clifftop trail between Cobden’s North Beach and Rapahoe. A slip means it’s only accessible from the northern end and repair work is expected to cost around $500,000. All options to stabilise the slip come with a risk.

The track is one of several in the region that have suffered closures this year, including two Great Walks – the Heaphy Track and Paparoa Track. Read more at Stuff

Multiple deaths as glacier collapses

If ever we needed reminding of the threat that glaciers pose, we only need to look at the terrible event on Marmolada mountain in Italy’s Dolomites this week where a huge chunk of ice broke off the mountainside, landing on hikers and causing numerous fatalities.

Many of the hikers were roped together, and rescuers had to pause their mission at one stage for fear that more ice could come down.

It’s not known exactly what caused the huge icefall, but extreme heat in the region in recent weeks may be at least partly to blame. Read more here

There’s now double the land for cycle trails in Otago

Authorities are now recognising the increasing thirst for cycling in a part of the world that has seen several new trails pop up over the past few years.

Until now, the creation of cycle trails in Otago was mostly restricted to existing paths, but now 187 parcels of conservation land, plus marginal land and recreational reserves, can all be considered for new tracks.

“It is fantastic news,” DOC’s statutory manager John Roberts told RNZ. “Clearly things were quite limited before and we’ve done this in response to the significantly increased public interest in cycleways and bike trails since 2016 when the CMS came out.”

It means there could soon be more trails to try out in this beautiful region. Read more at RNZ