The Hakarimata Summit Track, one of the Waikato’s most popular, has reopened to the public.
The track, which sees around 200,000 visitors a year, was closed at COVID-19 Alert Level 4, Level 3 and for the past two weeks in Level 2 as social distancing could not be maintained by people using it.
With the country at COVID-19 Alert Level 2 for two weeks and a contact tracing app introduced by the Government, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Waikato District Council believe it is now safe reopen the track.
Waikato District Council Chief Executive Gavin Ion says although many people will be eager to get out there and up the hill, to save lives and to stop the spread of COVID-19, it will be vital visitors to the popular track be safe and look after themselves and others.
“This means we ask you to scan the QR code at the bottom of the track to help with contact tracing. We also ask you to try and keep a 2-metre distance from people you don’t know, and don’t leave home if you’re unwell. We also recommend you wash your hands in the carpark toilets or sanitise your hands before and after your walk or run. It’s also best if you cough or sneeze into your elbow while up the track,” Mr Ion says.
“We’re asking visitors to take responsibility for their health and hygiene and consider others when using the track. This means ensuring you have cleaning and hygiene products with you and minimise contact with people you don’t know.
“Hygiene is really crucial at this point – we need all visitors to adhere to the rules that have become second nature to us. Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. The track includes heavily used handrails and we don’t want you passing on bugs,” Mr Ion says.
DOC’s Waikato District Operations Manager Ray Scrimgeour is anticipating the track will be very busy with people keen to get their exercise in at a heavily favoured location. For the meantime, Mr Scrimgeour encourages walkers and runners to consider other tracks for their exercise if they have access to these.
“We’re urging Hakarimata Track users to show courtesy, caution and patience when they’re on the track. Be conscious of other users and their speed, fitness and agility. Go prepared for changeable seasonable weather – wear a good sturdy pair of shoes and take a jacket.”
DOC encourages the public to explore tracks around the district to ease some of the pressure on the Hakarimata Summit Track – Kaniwhaniwha Nikau Walk and Caves, the Mangakawa Nature Walk and Kakepuku Track are all family-friendly walks within 30 minutes of Hamilton.