One of the most spectacular waterfalls in Northland will be out of bounds for several months while Department of Conservation does work to stem the spread of kauri dieback.

The Taheke Waterfall track, in the Taheke Scenic Reserve, about 14km northeast of Whangarei, is the first of approximately 200 tracks through Department of Conservation (DoC) reserves to be upgraded in the fight against the kauri disease.

The Taheke Scenic Reserve is home to Northland's highest waterfall, at 46m. The waterfall's top can be viewed from a wooden platform but a side track to a lower viewing platform has been closed due to the threat of introducing kauri dieback.

The view from the top of Taheke Falls.
The view from the top of Taheke Falls.

The track had been identified by the national dieback team as a risk.

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"I'm thrilled to announce that we're beginning this work to help safeguard our kauri in Northland," said DoC operations director, Sue Reed-Thomas.

"There's no kauri dieback in the Taheke Scenic Reserve but there are kauri with the disease nearby so we are completing this upgrade to keep the Taheke kauri safe."

A range of work will be done, including installing boardwalks and path surfaces to make wet and muddy sections dry and mud-free. Some sections will be re-routed and steps installed in places. The reserve will be closed while contractors work on the track between now and spring.

Other tracks in Northland will also be upgraded this year.

Kauri dieback is the deadly kauri disease caused by Phytophthora Agathidicida (or PA). Following DNA studies, this fungus-like disease was formally identified in 2008 as a distinct and previously undescribed species of Phytophthora. Kauri dieback is specific to New Zealand kauri and can kill trees of all ages.

Microscopic spores in the soil infect kauri roots and damage the tissues that carry nutrients within the tree. Infected trees show a range of symptoms including yellowing of foliage, loss of leaves, canopy thinning, dead branches and lesions that bleed gum at the base of the trunk. Nearly all infected kauri die. In the past 10 years, kauri dieback has killed thousands of kauri in New Zealand.

- More information on kauri dieback can be found on www.kauridieback.co.nz.