Moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 tomorrow allows for more freedoms and the opportunity to get out and about, however Waikato District Council and the Department of Conservation have made the decision to keep the Hakarimata Summit Track closed at this stage.
The Hakarimata Summit Track was closed at COVID-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 at this site.
Waikato District Council, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Waikato Tainui have been discussing the option of opening the track under Alert Level 2 but all agree it needs to stay closed to keep everyone safe.
The track, which is co-managed by DOC and Waikato District Council, is one of the most popular in the Waikato, attracting around 200,000 visits a year.
With this in mind, DOC and Waikato District Council share concerns people will not be able to maintain physical distancing while using the track – it is simply too narrow in a number of places.
People using the track will “cross paths” frequently and this increases the risk of possible virus transmission – particularly as some path users are exerting themselves on the track.
“Until we can successfully implement a system to record who visits this site, the track must remain closed under Alert Level 2. We understand this decision will be disappointing, but the community’s health and well-being and stopping the possible transmission of COVID-19 is our priority,” Waikato District Council Chief Executive Gavin Ion says.
“The barriers at the Brownlee Ave entrance will remain in place and we are urging the public not to climb over them to access the track.
“The reopening of the track will be considered when it is safe to do so. We hope this will be before the Government moves the country to COVID-19 Alert Level 1, but we need to wait for an adequate way of contact tracing,” Mr Ion says.
DOC’s Waikato District Operations Manager Ray Scrimgeour encourages the public to explore other tracks around the district – and to do so with caution and showing courtesy to other track users. “The Government is expecting visitors to take responsibility for their health and the health of others, including when they are recreating in the outdoors. People need to go prepared, and should check weather forecasts and conditions before they set out.
“While many of you will be eager to get out there, to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19, it will be vital you travel safely and look after yourself and others when outdoors including ensuring contact tracing, keeping 2 metre physical distancing, not leaving home if you’re unwell, hand washing and coughing into your elbow,” Mr Scrimgeour says.
The Department of Conservation manages most of the track within the Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, and Waikato District Council is responsible for the popular Brownlee Ave access point and the first few hundred metres of the track.
For more information please contact:
Senior Communications & Engagement Advisor
Waikato District Council
027 706 5776
Communication Advisor – Hauraki, Waikato, Taranaki
Department of Conservation
027 298 1836