Lucy's Gully in Egmont National Park becoming a dumping ground
There's towering redwoods, native ferns and birdsong whistling through the bush in Lucy's Gully.
But there's also ripped up grass, scattered beer bottles and until last week, someone's old mattress.
A couple who live near the gully in the Egmont National Park in Taranaki believe the area has become an 'undesirable place'.
It's becoming a dumping ground, Martin Moeller, who sets predator lines in Lucy's Gully, said.
"It is not a nice place to go. It's a shame. The powers that be need to take a look at it."
If he sees freedom campers he discourages them from staying there.
"We wouldn't want to see two girls spend the night there, or even a couple. We say 'you're probably better off to go down the beach.' That's what it's got to now. It's become quite an undesirable place"
Lucy's Gully was the scene of a murder in 2005 when Michael Scott Wallace beat backpacker Birgit Brauer in the head with a metal bar, then dragged her into bush and stabbed her once through the heart.
He had picked up Brauer as she hitchhiked between Whanganui and New Plymouth.
Murders aside, every summer it is a popular place for tramping with different walks up the Kaitake Ranges and further into the national park.
It was "unbelievable" the number of people that used that tracks in the summer, Moeller said.
But now it's not just trampers visiting the scenic spot.
It has become popular with boy racers and now 4-wheel-drive vehicles were starting to plough the area up, he said.
"In general the place is becoming a tip. It's not been well looked after at all.
Moeller goes through the gully three or four times a week and last week found a pile of beer bottles and a mattress.
"It appears that DOC has walked away from it. Now we have an 0800 dumping notice. That's how you fix the problem. I rang it last week they came and picked it up."
He used to put rubbish in the bins, but there are no bins there now, he said.
"Last year I looked at some rubbish and it was from a local. He'd left his doctor's receipt there, that's how bright some of these people are."
New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom said he was not aware of the issue with rubbish being dumped in the gully.
"We'll have a look at it and talk to DOC about it. People should report it to us or to DOC."
Boy and girl racers were a concern all over the district, Holdom said.
"We've had a discussion with police, there's been a lot of it over winter."
Lucy's Gully was wonderful, he said.
"There's a really cool little monument tucked away in the trees there to the guy who planted them all. We stumbled on it. It said if you want to see his legacy look around."
Dave Rogers, acting operations manager for the Department of Conservation Taranaki (DOC) said Lucy's Gully picnic area was maintained on a weekly basis by a contractor.
"Unfortunately the site by its very location attracts people who are intent on finding an out of the way place to dump their rubbish, sometimes by the car load. Items left in the area last week included an unwanted bed mattress."
It was a constant challenge for the department to keep this area in a condition befitting its status as national park, he said.
"The rubbish that might be removed today is quite often replaced by someone else's unwanted possessions tomorrow. Our widespread message to users of public conservation land about rubbish generally has long been one of encouraging people to "pack out what they pack in". Quite a simple philosophy but one for which our habitual rubbish dumpers have trouble accepting."