North Mavora Lake
Image: DOC | DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is reminding people to tread lightly and follow the rules at their favourite camping spots this Waitangi weekend.

Date:  03 February 2021

DOC Fiordland principal recreation ranger Grant Tremain says with a run of long weekends on the horizon, now is a great time to remind campers, trampers and outdoor enthusiasts to share the spaces respectfully.

“In the Southland region we’re lucky to have places like Mavora Lakes just a stone’s throw from civilisation. That makes it a very popular place with locals and those from further afield coming to enjoy this special place.

However, that can lead to some issues, Grant says.

“One of the great things about Mavora is that you can do a range of different things like motorbiking, four-wheel driving (4WD) and taking your dog or horse, that can’t be done in other areas like National Parks.

“Done responsibly and respectfully of both the land and other visitors, we have no problems.

“Frustratingly, however, there have been some instances of vandalism and destruction of property occurring at the local huts, as well as significant damage to the landscape caused by vehicle use.

“This type of damage is never acceptable. The repairs take extra time, resources and costs that would be better spent elsewhere. These assets belong to the public, so it is always concerning and distressing to see significant, deliberate destruction that impacts on the enjoyment of the area”

Mavora Lakes is part of the World Heritage Area, and the area encompasses some of Southland’s most significant wetland ecosystems. Off road use can significantly damage these fragile ecosystems and it can take years for the land to recover.

The solution is simple, Grant says.

Users must stick to formed roads - this includes the 4WD vehicle track up the North Lake and the 4WD vehicle track to the Forks Hut. Vehicles must also be registered, have a current WoF and drivers must have a licence.

DOC rangers also regularly visit and stay overnight to monitor activities and undertake maintenance, and work closely with police around poor behaviour. DOC staff can also apply infringement notices to those who continue to break the rules.

DOC wants to ensure everyone staying, camping or even just visiting for the day, has the same great experience that we’ve all had over the years, Grant says.

“We want people to enjoy their time at Mavora – so we ask for everyone to be considerate of others.”

More information

The Mavora Lakes consist of two lakes named North Mavora and South Mavora. They are situated amongst an impressive landscape of mountains, lakes, forest and tussock grassland.

It is a popular camping area during summer, with opportunities for fishing, boating, four-wheel driving, hunting, horse trekking, mountain biking and tramping.

As Mavora Lakes is a Conservation Area and not a National Park, there is provision for more activity to occur, such as the provision to take dogs. However, the area is still protected under the Conservation Act 1987 and forms part of the Te Wāhipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, which means that there are still strict laws protecting its natural resources and landscape values.

The Mavora Lakes Conservation Area is also provided for under the Southland Murihiku Conservation Management Strategy (2016) which acts as a guiding document detailing what is permitted to occur at a place.

The Mavora Lakes campsites were fully operational for the 2020/21 summer season by late October 2020 and Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers have been regularly on site during the busy summer months.

There is new signage about key rules at the campsite areas.

Mavora Lakes Campsite Rules. All vehicles and motorbikes must be registered and used on formed roads. Motorbike use must cease by 8 pm. All fires are only permitted in designated fire places. Noise is to be kept to a minimum by 10 pm. Dogs are to be kept under close control. Hunting is prohibited withing 2 km of the campsite. Non-compliances of campsite rules may result in infringements or being trespassed from the area.

Some of the other regulations include:

  • Pet dogs: Dogs are welcome in the park provided they are kept under control.  All dogs must be tethered on a leash in the camping areas and at hut sites. Barking should be kept to a minimum. Please clean up after your pets in consideration of other campers.
  • Noise: Noise is to be kept to a minimum after dark. No motor or trailbike use after 8pm. Generators must be shut down by 10pm
  • Fires: Fire is a significant risk to the Mavora environment. Fires are only permitted in designated fireplaces provided by DOC, and campers must adhere to the current fire season status. Fires in open areas and informal sites are not permitted. Chainsaws are prohibited. Live vegetation is not an acceptable supply of firewood.
  • Boating: Sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and rafting can all be done on both lakes. No motorised craft are allowed on South Mavora Lake. Small, motorised craft, excluding jet skis and hovercraft, are permitted at North Mavora Lake, in accordance with Environment Southland Navigation Safety Bylaws.
  • Hunting: A hunting permit is required for hunting in the Mavora Lakes Park. These are available at the DOC Visitor Centre in Te Anau.  Hunting is prohibited within two kilometres of the camping areas during the holiday periods.
  • Rubbish: Mavora supports the ‘Environmental Care Code’ ‘Pack it in and Pack it out’ motto. Take all your rubbish with you when you leave. Please do not use the campfires as rubbish bins.


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