West Coast alerts

Updated 4 April 2014

Remember - safety is your responsibility!  Always check the latest information about facilities and conditions with DOC before you set out. Report hazards to the DOC hotline, 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

There are alerts and important notices for the following West Coast tracks and huts:

Buller area tracks

Heaphy Great Walk

  • Construction of the new James Mackay Hut will begin 7 April with an expected completion date of 30 September 2014. The original hut is still available to book, but trampers may prefer to stay at either Saxon or Lewis due to noise from the construction site.
  • There is no camping available at James Mackay until 30th June as the camping area forms part of the construction site and will be used for storage of material.
  • 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.

Wangapeka Track

  • Belltown Manunui Hut - the fire box/cooker has been replaced but can not be used until the chimney work has been completed.
  • 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 booked online.

For more information contact the Kawatiri / Westport District Office

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Greymouth area tracks

Kirwans Track

  • 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.

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 Mawhera/Greymouth 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 Southen West Coast District 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.

Bridge removals:

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 Southen West Coast District Office.

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).

Wanganui Valley

  • 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 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. 

Whataroa/Perth/Butler valleys 

  • 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

Terrace Walk

  • 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 mid-2014 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).

Copland Track

  • 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.

Copland Pass

  • 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.

Related links

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Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies


Kawatiri / Westport Office
Phone:      +64 3 788 8008
Email:   paparoavc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Māwhera / Greymouth Office
Phone:      +64 3 768 0427
Email:   greymouth@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Hokitika Office
Phone:      +64 3 756 9100
Email:   hokitika@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Franz Josef Glacier Base
Phone:      +64 3 752 0796
Email:   westlandnpvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details

Weheka / Fox Glacier Base
Phone:      +64 3 751 0807
Email:   foxglacier@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Franz Josef Glacier Base
Phone:      +64 3 752 0796
Email:   westlandnpvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Awarua / Haast Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 750 0809
Address:   Haast Junction
Corner SH6 and Jackson Bay Road
South Westland
Email:   haastvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 435 1186
Address:   1 Larch Grove
Aoraki/Mt Cook
Email:   mtcookvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
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