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Upgrades complete for two Waitākere tracks

The Omanawanui Track provides stunning views over Whatipu. Photo: Auckland Council

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Two popular tracks in the Waitākere Ranges have reopened, following long-term kauri dieback closures.

The Ōmanawanui and Puriri Ridge tracks have been upgraded with thousands of steps and hundreds of metres of boardwalk, RNZ reports.

The 6km upgrade is a milestone for the upcoming reopening of the Hillary Trail, which has been gifted a second name in te reo, Te Ara Tūhura.

Te Kawerau Iwi Holdings director Edward Ashby said the gifting of the name is a cooperative effort in branding.

“What we were wanting to do was not take away from that but to also elevate or bring kura mahi, the Māori element, to the Waitākere Ranges,” he said.

Experiment to test bats’ response to artificial light

A trial on the edge of Pureora Forest is testing the eyesight of Aotearoa’s endemic long-tailed bats, RNZ reports

The experiment – a collaboration between DOC and Waikato University – is monitoring the behaviour of bats when artificial lights are used in the vicinity.

“People often say, you know, blind as a bat but actually they’ve got pretty good eyesight and they’re probably more sensitive to light, we suspect from research overseas, than people are,” DOC science advisor Kerry Borkin said.

“As you can imagine, if you’re geared up to be nocturnal then any light is possibly going to be blinding, but we’re doing this research to see whether that is the case or not.”

The bats’ response to different colours of artificial light will help develop guidelines for councils installing lights in areas bats live.

Tanzania approves a cable car on Kilimanjaro

The slopes of Kilimanjaro may become the site of a cable car, after the government approved construction. 

The cable car would help travelers young and old experience the mountain and boost tourist numbers – which, pre-Covid, numbered 50,000 a year.

Climbing groups have urged the government to reconsider, Outside reports, though the Tanzania National Parks Authority has emphasised approval does not mean confirmation.
Vivian Temba, from Tanzania-based climbing outfitter Amani Afrika, said the appeal of the mountain might diminish if plans go ahead.

“Imagine you’re beginning your Kili climb, and instead of seeing the mountain in its natural glory, you see steel towers and cables,” she said.

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New hut for South Westland

A new eight-bunk hut has opened in South Westland.

The Mataketake Hut, set on the Mataketake tops of South Westland World Heritage conservation land, was built in honour of the late conservationist Dr Andy Dennis.

Dennis bequeathed funds for the new hut in his will, and the build was led by Backcountry Trust manager Rob Brown, who was a close friend to Dennis. 

Mataketake Hut was officially opened with a gathering of Dennis’ friends, family, DOC staff and Te Rūnunga o Makaawhio.