The mandated consultation with users happened, but that appears to have had no impact on decisions already taken by Auckland Council to exclude people from the Waitakeres, and a major part of the Hunuas as well. These have now been confirmed at a Council meeting on April 10th. Refer the resulting public announcement here.

At this point there appear to be no positive decisions for recreation users. Requests that in theory have been accepted at a recent consultation meeting between recreation user groups and Auckland Council Parks staff are

  1. Provide a simple list of all tracks identifying track status 
  2. Make public the draft strategic plan that has been prepared by the Parks Managers and discuss this with recreation users
  3. Involve volunteers in expediting the process of upgrading tracks so that they are kauri safe

On a recent walk on the Zion Hill Track, up from Karekare,  we were most interested to find that recent significant upgrade work by Auckland Council has converted the entire track to a solid metalled track, and has added some re-routing that provides some great views down the coast that the previous track did not get to see.

This is a track which several years ago had seen the bottom section of the track metalled – but from part way up the hill it then reverted to a muddy uneven traditional Waitakeres track, all the way through to the Zion Ridge junction and on to the Buck Taylor junction.

For the moment the Buck Taylor Track down to the Pararaha swamp is still in bad old mode, but we hope that Auckland Council will prioritise the upgrade for that section, so that the result is a kauri safe loop walk of several hours, involving a Good Hill, and a walk back along the beach.

And there are reports that Puriri Ridge, Gibbons and Muir have all had similar upgrades quite recently.

It looks like metalled tracks will be the means to achieve kauri safe Waitakeres tramping.

As part of the information provided by Auckland Council recently it is proposed that the criteria for an open track in the Waitakeres could be any of the following:

  1. outside the closed forested area
  2. track surface is to a standard where a person can arrive with clean footwear and gear, walk that track in any weather conditions and not have soil on their shoes as they leave the track and after using a hygiene station.
  3. in an area away from kauri

There is no doubt that the second point sets a very high bar, including a highly respnsive level of track maintenance following storm events.

Tony Walton

President

Auckland Tramping Club

027 478 5223 / 09 630 2591