Waitākere walking track re-opens after 5 year closure

From Checkpoint, 5:54 pm on 23 January 2024

An expert says it is unclear whether some walking tracks in the Waitākere Ranges will ever reopen following the spread of kauri dieback.

It comes as the popular Cascade Falls track has finally reopened after it was closed in 2018.

Five years ago it was estimated one in five trees in the Waitākere Ranges were infected with the disease.

The pathogen infects roots, and stops the trees from getting water and important nutrients.

Auckland Council senior kauri dieback advisor Stuart Leighton told Checkpoint most tracks were still closed, and it was unclear whether all would eventually reopen.

But a survey in 2021 found the disease was moving slower than initially thought, he said, and most trees at the centre of the ranges were free of the pathogen.

"We're making progress. It's a long journey," he said, but council was putting in the infrastructure to help improve kauri health.

He said there were a few setbacks with storms like Cyclone Gabrielle that kept the tracks from opening sooner.

"There's 11km of tracks reopened through some of the most beautiful kauri forest in the Auckland region. So it's fantastic to be able to welcome people back to that space."

Most of the tracks in the Waitākere Ranges were still closed, however, Leighton said.

He said the trees would be reassessed in a few years, but it was key to think in long-term time frames because kauri trees could live up to 1000 years.