Kia ora Geraldine,

We hope you, the Trustees and the wider whanau have not been too severely impacted by the recent weather events. While Te Taitokerau has had its share of damage, we are also feeling for the people of Tairawhiti,  Hawkes Bay and other affected areas at present.

DOC has put in place a nationwide closure of all DOC facilities (huts, campgrounds, tracks and structures) until these can be assessed for safety. This includes a website alert for each site advising this closure.

We would like  to update of you of DOC Bay of Islands office response locally following the cyclone. In particular those sites in your area of interest at Whangaroa.

  • On Friday 17 February  a DOC team travelled to Totara North to assess the Wairakau Stream Track, the Kaiaraara (Dukes Nose) Track and the Lane Cove Hut and toilets.
  • The Wairakau Stream Track has a number of fallen trees and hang ups and will remain closed until the team can get back in there to clear these safely.
  • The Kaiaraara Track has been cleared for re-opening. The website alert still remains but will be removed in the next few days.
  • The Lane Cove Hut has been cleared for re-opening but can only be accessed by boat until the Wairakau Stream Track is able to be re-opened. This may take a week or two.

We are communicating directly with the Jobs for Nature project in your area of interest, and have asked  them to reassess their own safety plan to ensure any new hazards presented by the cyclone are identified and mitigated. They will not be able to use the Waikarau Stream Track until it is re-opened.

Also included below are the key messages DOC is circulating at a national scale.

As at 17 Feb 2023

  • The North Island has been battered by severe weather on an unprecedented scale. This includes public conservation land – parks, tracks, huts, bridges, campgrounds, etc.
  • Many areas are still in a State of Emergency.
  • DOC’s priority at this point is on the safety of our staff and visitors.  We are in response mode in many impacted areas.
  • It’s going to take time for our staff to carry out assessments on DOC huts, campsites and tracks so we can understand the scale of the damage and make decisions on repairs.
  • This work will dictate when these facilities can be reopened to the public.
  • Please bear with us while we wait for the water to recede, get access into remote areas and the clean-up to begin.
  • Locations in Regions covered by State of Emergency will be reopened on a case-by-case basis once it’s safe to do so.
  • We will be prioritising checking the most accessible and high use sites first.
  • Back country tracks and huts are yet to be fully assessed; all should be treated with extreme caution until assessments can be completed.
  • DOC recommends you do not enter these areas as the risk levels are unknown.  Any use is at your own risk.
  • To ensure sites are safe we will do an initial check, then a formal inspection, then an engineering inspection on damaged facilities.
  • Then the process of repair and replacement will start and prioritised across DOC and across the national civil defence priorities.
  • It’s expected that for some sites this will take some time. Some sites will be able to be used again next week and others within a few weeks.  Visitor safety is paramount.
  • Please do not use areas that are closed and where warnings are in place.
  • In the meantime, please check the DOC website for latest alerts and closures – we will be updating this as soon as we have new information.

Process for reopening facilities

  • Reopening assets will only occur if they are declared to be safe and if surrounding infrastructure (eg roads and bridges) are safe.
  • Decisions will be made in conjunction with local Emergency Management advice.
  • As part of our decision making process, we will assess if people or equipment needs to move to other DOC regions or is needed for the national emergency response.
  • Please note it will take some time for facilities to reopen to ensure safety of staff and visitors. We need to focus on the emergency response first.
  • To ensure sites are safe we will do an initial check, then a formal inspection, then an engineering inspection on damaged facilities.
  • Then the process of repair and replacement will start and be prioritised across DOC and across the national civil defence priorities .


Context of Cyclone Gabrielle

  • Severe weather has impacted the North Island with loss of life plus destruction of communities, transport and communications.
  • DOC is focused on the safety of its staff and visitors while the impact of the storm is still severe.
  • We are moving from response into recovery actions as it is safe to do so
  • We need to ensure the safety of the public and our staff before facilities are available to be used.



Background information about the recreation network


  • The Department of Conservation administers New Zealand’s largest recreation network including more than 14,000km of tracks, 326 campsites, over 900 backcountry huts and 50 heritage icon sites across one third of the country.
  • As well as enabling people to access and benefit from conservation areas, the network is a big part of New Zealand’s identity and heritage, and a national taonga in its own right.
  • DOC will continue to ensure its structures and facilities are safe for public use and work with groups keen to care for huts, tracks and places that are important to them.