Kim Fulton is a NZME. News Service regional reporter

DoC sites found to be substandard

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Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.

Bay of Plenty sites are among hundreds of tracks, huts and structures not up to standard nationwide.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has released lists of Department of Conservation (DoC) tracks, structures and huts, which have either been closed or are not up to standard.

Ohinemuri River Suspension Bridge at the Karangahake Gorge Tunnel Loop Walkway had serious or critical work tasks outstanding at the time the list was compiled.

Structures failing load capacity assessments included a pole bridge at Wairere Falls Track lookout, barriers at Okere Falls, and a lookout barrier at Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve Summit track.

Woodlands Road Swing Bridge on Waitengaue Stream Track in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park was also closed, according to the lists.

Green Party conservation spokesman Kevin Hague said the lists revealed that 1085 DoC structures nationwide did not meet the required service standard, and almost half of all tracks were not up to scratch.

In all, 38 structures had serious work tasks outstanding, 85 failed barrier assessments, 168 failed load capacity assessments, and another 85 were closed.

"New Zealanders have to ask themselves, is it acceptable for that proportion of our tracks, and our huts and our structures to not be meeting the standards that have been set for them? I suspect the answer is no."

A lot of people had worked over many years to make sure back country tracks and huts were available. For them to be discontinued or closed was a concern.

Mr Hague said his biggest concern was the structures such as viewing platforms which were overdue for repair or unassessed.

In Parliament last week, Ms Barry said about a third of the work on the structures in serious or critical need of work had been completed within the past month with the rest scheduled to be finished by November.

She said the bridges in need of repairs were part of a work schedule being carried out. Something as small as a missing brush meant a hut sometimes did not meet its service standards.

Ms Barry said data showed just 13 of the 944 huts DOC managed had some serious work outstanding.

Ms Barry said 50 tracks nationwide had been closed since 2008, often because of unavoidable natural hazards.

She said more than 400 tracks and more than 1000 extra kilometres had been added to DOC's network over the same period.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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