The Hakarimata Summit Trail is managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Waikato District Council (WDC). The track is normally heavily used by walkers and runners, and can be accessed from points near Huntly and Ngaruawahia.
On Tuesday, 24 March, New Zealand country moved to Covid-19 Level 4 and all New Zealanders were asked to stay home to break the virus’ chain. Exercise should be undertaken in residents’ local communities.
DOC asked the public not to venture into the great outdoors, particularly well-used tracks such as the Hakarimata Summit Trail.
However, information gleaned from recent social media posts shows people are ignoring the advice and continuing climb to the Hakarimata summit.
David Speirs, Incident Management Team Lead for DOC in the Waikato, says people continuing to use the track are putting themselves and others at risk. He is encouraging everybody to stick to the lockdown plan and consider the impacts of your actions on the community you live in, including your family.
“We know the Hakarimata track is popular and loved by many Waikato people, but this is not the time to be using it,” Mr Speirs says.
“The track is too narrow for people to keep that two-metre social distance, and the handrail is exactly the sort of surface the Covid-19 virus could sit on, ready to infect the next person touching the rail.
“It’s unacceptable people are clambering over barriers we’ve put in when they’ve been explicitly told not to use the track” Mr Speirs says.
Merv Balloch, WDC Emergency Controller echoed Mr Speirs’ message to the public.
“We are at COVID-19 Level 4 which means you may go for a walk or exercise from your home; this does not include travelling to any other location and you must keep a two-metre distance from people outside your ‘bubble’ (those you are living with) at all times.”
Today (Friday, 27 March) the Hakarimata Summit Track entrance was sealed and signs were put in place reminding the public not to use the track.
NZ Police will be monitoring these sites.
Please don’t risk it. Stay at home.