No restricted parking or wheel clamping planned for Mt Taranaki walkers

More people are discovering Mt Taranaki

More people are discovering Mt Taranaki

There are no plans to introduce restricted parking time limits for visitors to Egmont National Park in the wake of those recently implemented at the Tongariro Crossing, a Department of Conservation spokesman said.

DOC this week announced plans to limit parking for visitors walking the Tongariro Crossing to a maximum of four hours.

But DOC Taranaki senior ranger Dave Rogers said the department had not considered the same measures for Egmont National Park.

The car park at North Egmont Visitor Centre was packed all through last summer.

The car park at North Egmont Visitor Centre was packed all through last summer.

"We recognise parking was an issue in Egmont National Park with the increased popularity of the Pouakai Crossing," he said.

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"Long term we would like to have all parking outside the park boundary and shuttle visitors into the park to track entrances.

The parking congestion at Mt Egmont Visitor Centre  last summer

The parking congestion at Mt Egmont Visitor Centre last summer

"But we have not considered putting any time restrictions on people parking in the park at this stage."

Currently available parking spaces in the park were being tidied up and the department were keen to solve the problem long term with the expected increase in visitor numbers, he said.

The New Plymouth District Council had also bought private land at the top of Mangorei Rd, near the entrance of the Pouakai Crossing, to develop into visitor parking, he said. 

Rogers said the introduction of restricted parking at Tongariro Crossing was "interesting."

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Walkers on the popular track would now find the wheels of their vehicles clamped if they were parked for longer than four hours.   

The decision has been made by DOC to try and control overcrowding and traffic congestion on access roads to Tongariro Crossing.

Large numbers of vehicles parked alongside the Mangatepopo Road entrance to the track was restricting visitors enjoyment of the 16 kilometre walk, the department had reported.

Shuttle buses would  now ferry walkers to Mangatepopo entrance from nearby settlements, such as National Park, Turangi or Taupo.

However visitors can still park vehicles at the Ketetahi end of the track for when they finish 16km walk.

Rogers said visitor parking inside Egmont National Park was at capacity throughout the day during the busy holiday times.

"In the past it was either early in the morning, midday, after work or in the evening.

"It was never much of an issue and we could work around it.

"But now we have parking pressure throughout the day."

The increased numbers of visitors to the park had brought different issues, he said.

"Freedom campers were now arriving in the evenings to park overnight.

"In some ways this has driven out the hoons who would cause their own problems."

"It's good to see the park full and visitors enjoying it but conservation isn't about clearing more land and creating more parking spaces."

Mt Taranaki guide Rob Needs said there was on-going discussion between DOC, NPDC and related businesses to find a solution to parking problems.

"The last two summers have been challenging enough but I'm fearful this summer, with the increased popularity of the area, we will get negative comment on social media warning people not to visit the national park,"he said.

"Building a bigger carpark is not the solution."

Needs did not think restricting parking to four hours in Egmont National Park, and visitors using shuttle buses into the park was the answer.

"It is a different environment and the North Egmont road and car park is administered by both DOC and the council, not one entity."

There would also be problems for multi-day walkers not being able to meet a shuttle, and being faced with a long walk out to their car outside the park boundary, he said.




 - Taranaki Daily News

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