Hakarimata Summit track closure ignored by some
It seems the wait for the Hakarimata summit track to be fixed is too long for some who have ignored its closure and warnings of "significant danger" on the track.
Following heavy rainfall in early April, a piece of the Ngaruawahia track fell away and it was closed to the public.
"Danger tape" cordons off the track, but that hasn't stopped people going up according to Department of Conservation staff and comment from users on Facebook.
"DOC is aware that there have been comments on the Hakarimata's Facebook page about people using the track despite the signage and "danger" tape," regional operations manager Ray Scrimgeour said.
Despite a "low volume" of those bypassing the warnings, entering the track poses at least three sites of "significant danger".
"At least one staircase has moved some centimetres sideways toward the stream and the engineers' report may have identified others.
"People continuing to use the staircase could loosen and destabilise the structure even further.
"Anyone ignoring the warning signs and danger tape barriers put themselves at physical risk...the Hakarimata range can be a difficult area to access if people need rescuing."
Engineers are creating a report for DoC to get a better understanding of what was required to remedy the storm damage and how long it might take.
The track damage was assessed on Wednesday.
"It is evident even from our own visual assessments that the track has fallen away in at least three places and there has been significant movement of one stairway section away from the hillside towards the adjacent stream.
"We know from past experience there is no quick fix for this sort of damage.
"Again, the engineering report will identify these issues but we are no doubt looking at the need for retaining walls to protect track formation and possibly building consent processes before we can start work on reconstruction."
Scrimgeour said DoC was well aware of the important part the Hakarimata stairs play in the lives of many local residents who have turned it into some sort of giant outdoor gymnasium, with annual usage possibly in excess of 200,000 people.
But he said they should use the Kauri Loop Track, just a few kilometres down the road at the Huntly end of the Hakarimata range, instead while the Summit track was closed.
The Hakarimata Scenic Reserve near Ngaruawahia is a popular place for tramps through native bush while the summit gives good views across the Waikato Basin and down to Ruapehu.