DOC Wakatipu staff are celebrating as trampers will again be able to complete the full Rees-Dart circuit from 1 March 2017. The track reopens following a three-year closure due to ongoing issues caused by the Te Koroka/Slip Stream area landslide.
DOC Wakatipu Operations Manager Geoff Owen says, “It's been a long journey for DOC staff, and patiently waiting trampers, but it will be worth all the hard work to see people back in the stunning valleys, mountains, and rivers which form the Rees-Dart circuit.
"To reopen the track has taken a team effort across a number of areas: 2.7 km of track has been rerouted, 111 m of blasting have taken place, 13 m of stairways and a 12 m steel truss bridge have been installed. Numerous man hours, come rain or shine, have been needed for the hard slog of hand clearing debris such as fallen trees.
"The track will remain more challenging between Daleys Flat Hut and Bedford Bridge so it is recommended that trampers prepare themselves for a longer day and more arduous conditions over that section.”
New stairways on Dart-Rees Track
Newly blasted bluff on Dart-Rees Track
The landslide first occurred on 4 January 2014 and formed a 3 km long lake which appears to be here to stay. Initially DOC had to wait for the new lake and riverbank to stabilise so that a safe and enduring route could be found. Further delays were caused by the unstable weather and October 2016 weather bomb which caused large areas of treefall and sections of track to slip away.
Geoff adds, “Despite the best efforts of New Zealand’s unpredictable weather, the priority has always been to get people back onto the Dart Track. Trampers have been able to access the Rees Valley throughout the closure period, but the Department has always intended to reopen the full circuit. The closure of the Dart Track section has had implications for the destination and a number of important assets have been under-utilised”.
The Rees-Dart remains more challenging than tracks such as the Routeburn Track, and will continue to serve a more experienced tramping market. Due to the nature of the environment, ongoing monitoring of the area will be established to ensure the best track alignment options has been selected.
Trampers are advised to contact the Queenstown or Wanaka DOC Visitor Centres for the latest information or check this website.
The Rees-Dart Track is a popular 4 to 5 day circuit in the Mt Aspiring National Park. It receives about 2,000 overnight trampers per year, and a further 3,000 people per year undertake day walks from either the Rees Valley or Dart Valley road end.