Limitoo News

Record-breaking rainfall prompts warning over travel to tracks and parks

A huge landslip in the Waitākere water catchment during the Auckland floods. 29 January, 2023
A huge landslip in the Waitākere water catchment during the Auckland floods. Photo: Supplied/ Watercare

People are being urged to stay away from flooded and rain-impacted tracks and parks during Waitangi weekend.

The Mountain Safety Council said it was very uncommon for it to strongly recommend that people do not visit public conservation land or regional parks on a scale like this.

Chief executive Mike Daisley said the week of record-breaking rain had created many safety concerns.

"At this stage, we do not know the extent of potential damage, and the process to assess all the tracks and huts will take some time before agencies can declare them safe for use," Daisley said.

More heavy rain is expected for parts of the upper North Island ahead of the long weekend, which could cause further damage.

"We know many will be considering their long weekend plans with some enthusiasm for getting outdoors," Daisley said.

"However, this time around it's about doing that appropriately, so now isn't the time to head into the locations like the Waitākere or Hunua Parks, or into the Coromandel.

"It's likely your travel will place unnecessary strain on potentially vulnerable communities who are focused on the recovery."

Damage from the severe thunderstorm at Henderson Park, west Auckland.
Damage from the severe thunderstorm at Henderson Park, West Auckland. Photo: Supplied / Miriam Brooker

Auckland Council Regional Parks manager Scott De Silva said damage assessments were ongoing. The heavy rainfall had caused slips across the city's regional parks.

"We advise people not to go into the parks until further notice, when we have had a chance to properly assess the conditions of the tracks and make sure they are safe to use," he said.

The Department of Conservation advised people not to go onto public conservation land in affected areas even if sites appeared to be open.

On Wednesday, DOC temporarily closed access to Coromandel's Kauaeranga Valley, and various tracks, huts and campsites in the region as a precaution.

Daisley said the recent weather events were a reminder of how changeable and volatile the country's weather could be.

Mountain Safety Council figures over the past decade show more people head outdoors during Waitangi weekend, with twice as many tramping injuries and search and rescue call outs across the weekend compared to a typical one.

Once tracks were assessed and deemed safe to explore again, he recommended people used the Plan My Walk app or website to find the right track and plan their trip.