With summer approaching, Aucklanders will be looking to get out into the great outdoors and, for many, a walk in the Waitākere Ranges may be on the radar.
While significant closures to protect against kauri dieback are in place, remedial work is also underway to ensure surfaces on open tracks are robust enough to deal with the increased volume of traffic.
Senior Ranger Dave Markham says, “We’re doing our best to provide our visitors with great experiences and want to make sure open tracks are up to standard to meet the demand of additional use.”
This week, as part of a training exercise, a crew from the New Zealand Defence Force ferried loads of gravel to a challenging area of the ranges with a Seasprite helicopter, shifting bags of gravel weighing between 420kgs and 620kgs.
With the heavy lifting now complete, park staff and other volunteers will begin to lay the gravel on areas along the track.
“We’re appreciative of the assistance the No.6 Squadron have given us in respect of helping us with our maintenance of the tracks. We’re thrilled they have been able to assist us while at the same time undertaking valuable training - it’s a win-win all round and a great outcome for the people of Auckland.
“The scale of work across the regional park is huge, and our teams on the ground have been busy framing tracks, building stairs and manually moving tons of metal for spreading across the tracks.
"Protecting our kauri takes a lot of work, so it’s fantastic that the Defence Force has put their support behind this biosecurity effort.”
Seasprite captain, Lieutenant Commander Sam Williams said, “The New Zealand Defence Force is always willing to provide assistance to other government agencies and it provides us with an opportunity to put our training into practice.
“As keen users of the Waitākere Ranges ourselves, we are obviously very happy to contribute to the protection of our beautiful backyard.”
Track improvement work continues, with the Kitekite tracks planned to be opened by Christmas, and further track openings are expected over the summer as upgrade work is completed.
Click here for an updated track list and information on kauri dieback prevention efforts.
Visit this OurAuckland story to read an open letter on kauri protection from Councillors Penny Hulse and Alf Filipaina.