Date: 17 October 2012
Installing a toilet at Keys Summit, Routeburn Track
The Great Walks in Fiordland National Park are due to open for the summer on Tuesday 23 October 2012.
Over the last few months, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has been busy preparing the Routeburn, Milford and Kepler tracks and huts for the start of the 2012/13 season.
Helicopters have been used to fly tools, equipment and supplies in to the huts and at the same time, fly out last season’s hut sewerage. Huts have been serviced, and repaired where required. Tree-falls and slips that have occurred over the winter have been cleared from the tracks.
DOC Programme Manager Annie Wallace says “it’s a big job to keep tracks and huts on the Great Walks to their high standard, but the popularity of the tracks show it’s really worth the effort. This season’s bookings are filling fast, so if people want to walk them this summer they should get in really quick”.
The eight Great Walk huts in Fiordland provide 120,000 visitor beds each season. Over the summer, the huts are well equipped and serviced with cooking facilities, flush toilets, have heating available and usually have solar-powered lighting in the dining areas. Conservation Rangers take care of the huts during the summer and make sure visitors are welcomed and well-informed of the area and track conditions.
Many of the Conservation Rangers return year after year to work on the Great Walks over summer. Thirteen of the sixteen rangers for this summer have previously worked on the Great Walks in Fiordland. ‘This is an awesome number of staff returning and is testament to how well the Great Walks are operating here’ said Ms Wallace.
DOC has been monitoring the snow above the Great Walks for avalanche risk all winter. In general, there has been little snow at low altitudes - good news for trampers on the tracks this spring. However, the unsettled spring weather and recent snow at high altitudes means predicting avalanche conditions is a daily activity for the DOC Te Anau avalanche staff. Trampers should check for the latest avalanche information with the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre before setting off.
In addition to the usual ongoing track maintenance, DOC staff will be at work throughout the summer continuing a major track re-surfacing project that was started last summer on all the Great Walks. The priority sections to be worked on this year are near Lake Ada on the Milford Track, the Hollyford Face on the Routeburn Track and the Control Gates to Dock Bay/Luxmore Basin on the Kepler Track.
The Fiordland Great Walks season runs from 23 October 2012 to 30 April 2013.