Updated 6 December 2013
Remember - safety is your responsibility! Always check the latest information about facilities and conditions with DOC before you set out. Report hazards to DOC Hotline 0800 362 468.
There are alerts and important notices for the following West Coast tracks and huts:
Buller area tracks
Heaphy Great Walk
- Track Upgrade: 180,000kg of track gravel is being spread on the track between Saxon and James Mackay Huts and James Mackay and Lewis Huts. Site open but machinering and helicopter are being used so expect noise while operation underway. Work expected to commence Monday 9th December until Friday 13th Decembe
- Between Kohaihai and Heaphy Hut: Sections of the coastal track are subject to large wave surges during high tides and rough seas and may cause the track to be temporarily impassable - there is no alternative track available. The sections affected are clearly signposted. Track users must make their own safety assessment and be prepared to wait for up to 2 hours until the tide retreats. When planning your trip, ensure you check tide charts and allow adequate time in case of delays
- The third year of the mountain bike trial on the Heaphy Track has now finished.
- Two large slips - The track has been benched and a safety chain installed over the slip between Gilmour Clearing and Belltown Hut and re-marked over the slip between Belltown Hut and the Wangapeka Bivvy. Care is required when traversing both slip areas especially after heavy rain.
Karamea Gorge Route - Closed
- The route is closed until further notice due to large slip making access to the start of the route impossible.
Mokihinui Track - Old Ghost Road
The Mokihinui Gorge section at the 'Suicide Slips' has now re-opened
. Also a
marked route' between Ghost Lake and Goat Creek is now complete and available to very fit and experienced
trampers, therefore The Old Ghost Road is now traversable on foot from end to end. Specimen Point Hut in the Mokihinui Gorge and Stern Valley Hut between Ghost Lake and Goat Creek can now be reserved online
The Cavern Walk - Punakaiki
For more information contact the Kawatiri / Westport District Office
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Greymouth area tracks
- The 4WD access road to the Waitahu Valley is closed to vehicles due to a washout before the Clematis Gorge Swingbridge. You can still walk the road.
- The track connecting Gannons Road end to Capleston is closed for 18 months from June 2013 due to PF Olsen logging operations. If you are planning on doing a loop then you will need to walk out to Reefton using Murray Creek Track.
Lewis Pass short walks
- Waterfall Track is closed indefinitely.
St James Walkway
- The lower Anne Bridge and a section of track 200m further upstream were washed out. The track has been re-routed but Anne River still needs to be crossed on foot along the re-aligned route. Check weather conditions and river levels before setting out. If not safe, wait it out.
Robinson River & Saddle Track
- You will encounter land slips on this track. You need to allow extra time and be an experienced tramper to negotiate your way around them.
For more information contact the Greymouth Mawheranui Area Office.
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Hokitika area tracks
If you are travelling in the Hokitika backcountry and come across track damage, please report it to the Hokitika Area Office (photos and grid references would be appreciated).
Arahura and Styx Valley Tracks
- Styx Valley Track is now very rough with numerous slips to be negotiated. These slips are moving after each rain event and can be difficult to cross by inexperienced people.
The Styx River has cut into a vertical gravel cliff 20 minutes from the Styx car park. To continue up the valley be prepared to cross the river at normal flow below and above this slip. Parties or individuals that are not confident with river crossing should travel through via the Arahura valley.
The alternative via the Arahura Track has a major slip south of Snowball Creek. Caution is advised when crossing this slip.
Kaniere Water Race Walkway - Partially Closed
The Lake Kaniere Water Race Walkway section (Lake Kaniere to Wards Road) will be closed from 10th June to 01 November 2013 for the Cycle Trail construction works.
Due to the deterioration of the following bridges they have been removed and will not be replaced. These bridges have been removed over the past three years:
- Otehake Swing Bridge, Otehake Valley (E1494326-N5262067)
- Mungo Swing Bridge, Mungo Valley (E1452630-N5234077)
- Crawford Junction 6-Wire, Crawford Valley (E1456300-5242200)
- Hokitika River Cableway, Whitcombe Valley (E1438829-N5235905)
- Price River Swing Bridge, Whitcombe Valley (E1437336-N5224434)
- Moonbeam Swing Bridge, Waitaha Valley (E1421731-N5221381)
For more information contact the Hokitika Area Office.
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Glaciers/Franz Josef area tracks
If you are travelling in the backcountry and come across track damage, please report it to the Franz Josef, Fox Glacier or Haast offices (photos and grid references would be appreciated).
- Lambert Swingbridge: New six wire swingbridge open (March 2013).
- Hendes Bridge: New three-wire bridge open (March 2013).
- Smyth Hut is closed until at least mid-2014 while further site assessments are completed following severe flood damage in the Wanganui valley (January 2013).
- As a result of heavy rainfall in January 2013, the upper Wanganui valley track between Hunters Hut and Smyth Hut has sustained major damage, making access extremely difficult.
- Smyth swingbridge was destroyed in the above floods and there is no longer bridge access across the Wanganui River at Smyth Hut.
- A significant flood/probable river surge event has destroyed the swing bridge across the Butler River (South Branch). The bridge primarily provided access to the track to Ice Lake and for hunting in the area. The bridge was installed in 2009.Crossing the Butler River (South Branch) on foot is possible in low flow conditions. Do not attempt to cross if you are inexperienced at river crossings or when the river is high or in flood. The bridge over the Butler River (South Branch) at this location will not be replaced in the near future. Parties planning on tramping or hunting in the area need to be aware that travel beyond Top Butler Hut can only be achieved if the party is experienced and able to cross the river in suitable conditions on foot
- Open to the bridge only due to flood damage.
Roberts Point Track
- Roberts Point Track is closed due to severe flood damage, including major structure damage. The track is not expected to reopen until late 2013 at the earliest. Please check at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre and i-SITE for an update closer to your visit.
For more information contact the Franz Josef Office.
Glacier Valley Walks
- Access to the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier Valley walks change often due to rain and river valley conditions. Please check at local DOC centres for the most up to date information.
Fox Glacier Office open weekdays (10 am - 2 pm) or Franz Josef Office open seven days.
South Westland area tracks
If you are travelling in the backcountry and come across track damage, please report it to the Franz Josef - Waiau Office (photos and grid references would be appreciated).
- There are a number of windfalls following last weeks storm (September 2013). Care is required and you should allow some extra time each way. The track will be cleared as soon as possible but please check the latest conditions prior to departure.
- There are two landslides on the Copland Track. Trampers are advised not to cross these areas during or immediately after persistent rain. Check with DOC Visitor Centres at Franz Josef or Haast before commencing your trip.
- Please note that in times of severe weather such as sustained and/or heavy rain, the Copland Track may be closed (often at short notice) due to flooding and/or other damage. In instances of closure, notices will be placed at the start of the track. Please check conditions and weather at the nearest DOC office prior to departure. Refunds will be issues in these instances - please contact the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre and i-SITE for details.
- Do not attempt the pass unless you have a high level of mountaineering experience and the proper equipment. Please contact DOC Aoraki Mount Cook as part of your planning. Be aware that the cable that hangs down the moraine wall onto the Hooker Glacier is prone to damage - do not use this cable as any significant weight may cause it to break.
Fox Glacier Office open weekdays (10 am to 2 pm) or Franz Josef Office open seven days.
Gillespies Beach: Miners Tunnel and Galway Beach tracks closed
- Coastal erosion has washed out a section of bridged track across Gillespies Lagoon, resulting in the closure of the Miners Tunnel and Galway Beach tracks. Do not go beyond the closure point. It is unknown when this section of track will be fixed. The other tracks at Gillespies Beach remain open.
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