Unauthorised cycle and walking tracks put Port Hills at risk

FIRE RISK: Unauthorised tracks could cause another fire in the Port Hills.

Unauthorised cycle and walking tracks in the Port Hills could contribute to the start of another disastrous fire.

Lyttelton resident Wendy Everingham said the city council desperately needed to create policy that stopped people from creating their own cycle and walking tracks across the Port Hills.

“If the water is on an ordinary surface it is dispersing through that land mass more evenly, but as soon as you open up the land with tracks you create little streams and water bypasses parts of the reserve and you get some places which are drier than others.”

Mrs Everingham said she was appalled by the number of unauthorised tracks that were being made on the Port Hills.

“Up on the Urumau Reserve I saw someone had come through and cut down quite a lot of trees, so they were opening up an area that was supposed to be for forest.”

Mrs Everyingham said she had also noticed an unauthorised track which went through Steadfast land and the Whakaraupo reserve.

City council acting head of parks Kate Russell said that the illegal track that entered Steadfast land and Whakaraupo reserve had been closed and rangers were investigating other tracks in the Port Hills.

“We have out signs reading ‘track closed, no access.’ We have discussed with local community users and reserve committees that the track is not to be used and developed any further. The track was mown with a weed-eater so it will be allowed to grass over. Fencing work may be carried out to further exclude access to the track.”

Ms Russell warned that some of the unauthorised tracks ventured into areas of potential rockfall risk.

“This [Steadfast and Whakaraupo reserve land] track did follow a route that would take people into a zone of rockfall that has not been mitigated or had recent inspections.”

Ms Russell said a geotechnical report would need to be undertaken to determine how great the risk of rockfall was in those areas.

Ms Russell asked people to consider the consequences of their actions before forming their own tracks.

“If people carry out unauthorised work there is the risk of unsafe tracks being developed as well as serious impacts to the environment which can take many years to repair. We invite people to contact the council or their local reserve committee to provide ideas on developments.”