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Source: Department of Conservation

Date:  22 June 2021

The Department of Conservation (DOC), with the support of recreational user groups, has installed a steel gate on the 4WD track just above the North Mavora camping area, which will be locked from Wednesday 30 June 2021.

People wishing to drive through the area now need to register online for free to obtain an access code.

DOC Principal Ranger, Heritage and Visitor (Te Anau) Grant Tremain says it is a shame the damaging acts of a few individuals have led to this action.

“Most New Zealanders are responsible and respectful of the environment when they are out and about exploring, whether that be on foot, horse, bike, motorbike or 4WD.

“Unfortunately there seems to be a small group of people who just don’t seem to have any regard for other users of the area, or the landscapes and property around them.

“Damage to public conservation land, tracks and structures is never acceptable. Repairs and remediation work takes extra time, resources and funds that would be better spent elsewhere. This land belongs to the public, so it is always disappointing to see significant, deliberate destruction.”

The decision to control access was a last resort, and shouldn’t be an onerous process for the many responsible 4WD users who want to continue using the area.

Walkers, trampers and people riding mountain bikes or horses still have unrestricted access.

“We have been advising users for quite a long time of the issues and asking them to respect the environment, show some common sense and behave responsibly.”

However, sadly, the ongoing damage and complaints from other users meant DOC was left with little choice but to review the accessibility of that track.

The outcome of the review, with support from recreational user groups, was the installation of the large steel gate near North Mavora Lakes camping area. This gate was installed in December 2020 but was left open for the summer/autumn of 2021.

Importantly, this is not about preventing access, Grant Tremain says.

The Southland Murihiku Conservation Management Strategy enables restricting access where there is a need to protect the environment from damage. In this instance, any 4WD or motorbike user can register online for free to obtain access.

Users are required to provide some personal and vehicle details and agree to the driving code of conduct before submitting the completed registration form. They will receive an automated response by email that contains the access code and a reminder about the agreed rules.

“This is a new way of managing access to Mavora Lakes Conservation Area – it has been implemented to protect the conservation land and properties so that everyone can enjoy their experience.”

Anyone with information relating to prohibited 4WD or motorbike activity, or the recent thefts should contact Grant Tremain on (+64 3 249 0200).


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