Police investigating hut vandalism
IntroductionPolice are investigating vandalism at Kirwans Hut in Victoria Forest Park near Reefton. The backcountry hut is only accessible via an advanced level tramping track.
Date: 08 February 2024
The Department of Conservation reported the vandalism to police after being alerted to it by a hut visitor.
Whoever did the damage took paint stored on site to daub swastikas on the hut roof and external walls, as well as the water tank. They smeared paint on the inside of the new toilet, broke the toilet lid, smashed the guttering that feeds the water tank, broke part of the boardwalk to the toilet and made a general mess inside the hut.
DOC Western South Island Operations Director Mark Davies says the damage is senseless, sickening and extremely disappointing for DOC, the Backcountry Trust which upgraded the hut, and trampers using the facility.
“The Backcountry Trust reroofed Kirwans last year as one of their Jobs for Nature projects. Four people did the work over four days with around 200 hours of labour in total. I know the team was particularly proud of how well the hut came up through their efforts.”
“Kirwans is a popular hut and used a lot over summer. Our DOC team put in a great deal of effort in the leadup to Christmas to ensure it was accessible.”
Not only will repairing the damage be costly it will take rangers away from other essential work as they clear it up, he says.
Police are asking anyone with any information about the vandalism to call them on 105 or go online to 105.police.govt.nz citing case file number: 240116/7979.
Kirwans Hut remains open and all facilities are usable.
Victoria Forest Park is the largest park of its type in the country. Access to the park is via a network of tracks, many dating back to mining days with relics amid regenerated forest.
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