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Road, track closures catching people out
17 June 2017

ROADING and track closures are catching out some visitors to Lake Waikaremoana who are not aware of the partially-closed status of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk and SH38 on the Whakatane side.

Storm damage in April closed the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk between Korokoro campsite and Hopuruahine landing.

The only access into Lake Waikaremoana is on State Highway 38 on the Wairoa side of the lake.

The Lake Waikaremoana website estimates road access from Murupara to Lake Waikaremoana will be reopened late in July, weather dependent.

Some have ignored advice about the road closure and driven on, only to get stuck and in need of a tow on the closed section of road.

There is some concern about whether the Great Walk and road will be reinstated in time for summer.

Waikaremoana Holiday Camp manager Petrina Brenchley said a handful of tourists had driven to Waikaremoana, only to find they had to turn around because of the road closure.

“They completely missed the sign at Frasertown and drove past it. The location of the road closure sign is in the wrong place. They should have one by the rail tracks near Carters and one this side of the Awamate Road Bridge because there are a lot of people who come from Awamate.”

Holiday camp bookings for May were about 40 percent down on May last year due to a combination of road closure access on the western side and track damage, she said.

“June is normally quieter for us anyway and we are on par to have similar June bookings to last year.”

The holiday park is taking advantage of the quiet period to continue with its upgrade of chalets, tourism flats and family units in time for late spring.

Red alerts on the Department of Conservation Te Urewera web page have also gone unnoticed by some visitors to the area.

Lake Waikaremoana tribal biodiversity manager Brown Elia said every day he travelled from Ruatahuna and had to pull out a couple of people with camper vans who did not heed the road closure warning.

“They are coming through to Te Whare Hou (at Lake Waikaremoana) and ignoring advice about the road closure.

“I have had to pull two campervans out. It's unbelievable.”

The hazardous sections of the track are still closed and over the past six weeks the number of people on the track has been only 2 percent of the norm at this time of year.

The DoC website explains road closures remain in place and some areas are not accessible.

The track is open between Onepoto and Korokoro campsite. Korokoro campsite is also open. Maraunui campsite, Marauiti hut, Waiharuru hut, Tapaenui campsite and Whanganui hut along the closed section of track are open but accessible by boat only.

Gisborne Herald

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