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Eastern Te Paki tracks in Northland’s Far North remain closed due to storm damage

The storm damage which continues to keep the eastern Te Paki Recreation Reserve tracks closed includes destroyed bridges.

The eastern part of the Far North’s Te Paki track is so badly damaged by slips and broken bridges that an alternative route may have to be found.

All of the tracks in Te Paki Recreation Reserve were closed by the extreme weather events in early 2023, including Cyclone Gabrielle.

The tracks, including the Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua Lighthouse Walk, were part of more than 500 conservation areas in the North Island damaged by the extreme weather.

Sheridan Waitai of Ngāti Kuri, which is the tribal kaitiaki of the area, said the iwi and the Department of Conservation (DoC) have been working hard to restore access.

The work has been hampered by a lack of access, including slips on the few roads that are there, and in some cases Ngāti Kuri members have been tramping in backpacks full of metal, she said.

The Cape Reinga lighthouse and tracks west of State Highway 1 are now open, including the trail used by Te Araroa walkers.

“We’ve done our best to reopen it,” Waitai said.

But all tracks east of the highway remain closed indefinitely due to the storm damage and severe erosion.

“It will remain closed and we are looking at what other areas that we could potentially open up that would be more environmentally resilient,” she said.

“Where we used to walk has just melted away from major erosion – it’s just not a place that we’re prepared to open for health and safety reasons, and DoC is holding that line too.”

Despite the closures, Waitai said each week trampers continue to walk through areas where they shouldn’t be, such as paths used to maintain traps.

These paths are not open to the public and people using them are putting themselves and the conservation efforts at risk.

“They haven’t followed any biosecurity protocols … We’re the only place in the region that does not have kauri dieback and we want to keep it that way.”

Storm damage, kauri dieback keep Northland tracks closed

The Mangawhai Coastal Track in Kaipara was another Northland trail that has suffered damage in Cyclone Gabrielle, and is currently closed.
The Mangawhai Coastal Track in Kaipara was another Northland trail that has suffered damage in Cyclone Gabrielle, and is currently closed.

A number of DoC tracks in Northland are closed due to storm damage, maintenance or kauri dieback, according to DoC’s website.

The closures include:

  • All Te Paki tracks east of State Highway 1, including the Pandora campsite, are closed indefinitely due to Cyclone Gabrielle repairs. The Tapotupotu, Kapowairua (Spirits Bay) and Twilight campsites are open.
  • The Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway (Kaipara district) is closed for Cyclone Gabrielle-related repairs until approximately mid-July.
  • The Mount Manaia Track (Whangārei district) will be closed for Cyclone Gabrielle-related repairs from May 14 until mid-to-late July.
  • Mount Tutamoe Track in Dargaville (Kaipara district) is open but may be damaged with slips, flooding or fallen trees. Walkers are warned to be prepared to turn back if needed.
  • The Mahinepua Peninsula Track in Whangaroa (Far North district) is closed for maintenance until May 19.
  • A 60m section of the Hongi Hika Walk in Kerikeri (Far North district) is closed for tree felling.
  • The Herekino Forest Track to Veza Road (Far North district) has been indefinitely closed since 2018.
  • Kaitāia Walkway (Far North district) has been indefinitely closed since 2021.
  • The Morepork Track (Whangārei district) is closed, meaning there is no through access to Whananaki for Te Araroa walkers.
  • The public-access walking track from Picnic Bay to Puriri Bay in Whangaruru (Whangārei district) is closed due to slip damage, with visitors advised to walk along the road.
  • There is reduced capacity at Uretiti Beach Campsite (Whangārei district) due to storm damage, with visitors advised to take extra care around flood affected areas.
  • Part of the Urupukapuka Island Walk in the Bay of Islands (Far North district) has been closed since 2022 due to a slip. The closed track, Whangapau Point Pā Track, is located between Paradise Bay and Entico/Otiao Bay.
  • The Raetea North Side Campsite (Far North district) is accessible from the north only while State Highway 1 is closed at the Mangamuka Gorge. The gate to the reserve is currently locked but the site can still be accessed on foot.
  • The Cape Brett Hut (Far North district) is closed for restoration work until June 14.
  • Frampton’s Hut in Waima Forest (Far North district) is closed for repairs until May 20.

Meanwhile, a number of tracks are also closed to prevent further spread of kauri dieback. These include:

  • The Four Sisters Walk and Yakas Walk in Waipoua Forest (Far North district).
  • The Te Toroa Track and Kauri Grove Track in Rawhiti (Far North district) are closed permanently but the track from Oke Bay to Cape Brett is still open.
  • Parts of Puketi Forest, the Omahuta Kauri Sanctuary Walk and parts of Russell-Ngaiotonga Forest (Far North district).

Denise Piper is a news reporter for the Northern Advocate, focusing on health and business. She has more than 20 years’ experience in journalism and is passionate about covering stories that make a difference.

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