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June 2022 Issue
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Tracks plug gap in Waitākere Range trail network

View of the Whatipū sand dunes and Tasman Sea from Gibbons Track

For the first time in four years, trampers have an overnight walk option in Auckland’s Waitākere Ranges following a $2.34 million upgrade to three tracks.

The Gibbons, Muir and Pararaha Valley tracks were among around 100 trails deemed off-limits when Auckland Council closed forested areas of the ranges in May 2018 to protect trees from kauri dieback disease.

The adjacent tracks, which were reopened in April, fill a 7km gap in the ranges’ trail network, meaning trampers can now walk uninterrupted from Huia in the south, through Pararaha Valley and up to Anawhata north of Piha.

It had been an epic undertaking to bring the tracks up to a safe standard for kauri, said Mace Ward, Auckland Council general manager of parks, sports and recreation.

“Because the area is so remote, helicopters were used to chopper in materials for the teams and Covid-19 border restrictions played havoc with  the out-of-town contractors and their time frames,” Ward said.

On top of that, a large slip following a storm in August 2021 washed out an upgraded section of the Muir Track, adding weeks and 10 tonnes of gravel to the job.

“But the end result is spectacular tracks to test the lungs and legs,” Ward said.

The council plans to reopen 43 tracks in the ranges by 2023/24, with 22 already upgraded and reopened since 2019.

The fate of 56 closed tracks, not included in the council’s current work programme, will be decided following a regional parks management plan due later this year.