Government must fix mud-ridden Rakiura Track

It's up to the Government to get on and fix Stewart Island's deteriorating Rakiura track, after the Department of Conservation recently asked the local community for support to repair it, Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

"I have contacted Conservation Minister Kiri Allan highlighting track conditions on the island and have asked her to make maintenance a priority.

"Talk of mud and visitor complaints about track quality are just not good enough, especially for a so-called Great Walk premier track, and I'm shocked that DOC and the Government have allowed these issues to persist.

"However, there's now no excuse with the Government announcing $60 million in new DOC funding to 'maintain high quality visitor assets,' including tracks and huts, in its Budget 2022.

"At a time when we're welcoming back international visitors, and the people of Stewart Island are relying on tourism to boost the local economy, I think it is inexcusable that we have a Government managed asset like this that is being run down.

"And how miserable for DOC staff to have to go cap in hand to the local community for help, wanting to access $425,000 from the island's recently-increased visitor levy fund, to fix its track - rather than getting support from Wellington.

"To that end, I have written to the Minister of Conservation highlighting this issue and requesting that maintenance funding for this track be made a priority."

Letter to Minister:

Minister of Conservation
Kiri Allan


31 May 2022


I wish to bring to your attention the serious quality issues facing the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island.

Touted as a Great Walk, and a premier New Zealand track, the local community has recently been asked by Department of Conservation staff for access to local funding to address track maintenance issues.

Reports of mud and visitor complaints about track quality are very concerning, particularly at a time when we are set to welcome back international visitors, and the people of Stewart Island are relying on tourists to boost the local economy after Covid-19.

Apparently these track issues are not new and that makes it all the more inexcusable that we have a Government managed asset like this being allowed to run down, despite on-going public concern.

Almost 40,000 visitors use this track each year and I do not believe it is a good look for it to be operating in a deteriorated state of repair.

I note that the Government announced $60 million in new funding for DOC to maintain high quality visitor assets, including tracks and huts, in its recent Budget 2022.

Based on the level of public and community concern, I think it is only appropriate that maintenance funding for the Rakiura track be made a priority.

I look forward to you keeping me updated on progress on this issue.

Kind regards
Penny Simmonds
MP for InvercargillĀ