Police warn trampers of fallen trees

BLOWN OVER: Storm damage near Awapoto Hut on the Inland Track in  Abel Tasman National Park.
BLOWN OVER: Storm damage near Awapoto Hut on the Inland Track in Abel Tasman National Park.

Trampers are being warned to take extra care on storm-hit tracks in the Nelson region because fallen trees are blocking routes.

One overseas tramper was lost for three days in Mt Richmond Forest Park after becoming disoriented when trying to get around a blocked section of track.

Popular tracks throughout Nelson were hard hit by the pre-Easter storm that felled many trees. Sections of some tracks have been closed as a result.

Storm damage has also postponed the mountainbiking season on the Heaphy Track. It was due to start tomorrow but parts of the route will now remain closed until May 11.

The police warning to trampers follows a Search and Rescue mission last week to find a tramper who got lost after trees were blown down and blocked access on a track in Mt Richmond Forest Park.

Constable Dave Cogger said fallen trees had made navigation difficult for trampers.

A student from the United States became disoriented when trying to get past fallen debris in Totara Pass last Wednesday.

The man's friends raised the alarm on Friday night, and at first light on Saturday search teams entered the area from Hackett Valley and Third House. He was located that day, after hearing search teams whistling and calling his name. He had been lost for 3 days.

In another incident last week, an Austrian woman was delayed in the Mt Angelus area in Nelson Lakes National Park after she discovered that the route to Speargrass Hut was impassable.

Search preparations were under way when the woman made it out safely via another route.

Cogger said the incidents were a reminder that people should check the condition of tracks with the Department of Conservation before embarking on a tramp.

DOC's Takaka acting conservation services manager Jo Gould said parts of the Heaphy Track as well as tracks in Abel Tasman National Park were still closed after the storm on April 17. There were fallen trees on tracks in both parks.

"The damage is so extensive that we think it will take some time to clear the track and do it safely," she said.

The Golden Bay side of the Heaphy Track is closed from Perry Saddle through to Brown Hut, to both trampers and mountainbikers.

"We need to get the track to a state [that is] safe for trampers to walk along. We are trying to do that as quick as we can," Gould said.

In Abel Tasman, the Inland Track is closed from Pigeon Saddle to Awapoto Hut, and from there to the turnoff to Wainui Hut. The western end of the Rameka Track is also closed.

Gould did not have an reopening date for the sections of track. She said resources were being put into fixing the Heaphy Track first.

Gould said DOC would have a better idea of the damage to the Heaphy Track after the weekend, and there was a possibility it could reopen before May 11.