Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Sir Ed's plaques going walkabout

Aluminium markers regularly 'souvenired' from Waitakere bush trail named in honour of Kiwi adventurer

Marker plaques on the Hillary Trail in the Waitakeres are disappearing.
Marker plaques on the Hillary Trail in the Waitakeres are disappearing.

Cheeky visitors walking away from the Hillary Trail have been taking their very own keepsake to remember the great man.

Up to three of the aluminium plaques marking the 77km West Auckland bush trail have been stolen each month since the trail opened in 2010.

The trail, named to capture Sir Edmund Hillary's "sense of adventure", winds its way through native forest in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and attracts thousands of outdoor lovers each year.

To keep users on the right route along the self-guided trail, Auckland Council has set up a series of marker posts, some bearing plaques with a silhouette of Sir Ed.

A council parks and recreation spokeswoman said the thefts were not a "huge problem" but they were being monitored.

"The rangers are familiar with it throughout the Hillary Trail," she said.

"From time to time people do 'souvenir' them."

She said the aluminum plaques were attached to the wooden posts with glue and screws.

They were "relatively inexpensive" and as they were not taken on a regular basis, they were replaced as soon as possible. Highly visible orange reflector markers were also placed along the trail.

"When we get a report of one missing or find one when doing trail checks we replace it. It's a safety thing, making sure people know they are on the right track," said the spokeswoman.

"At the end of the day this sort of thing just happens. We keep a close eye on it, but we expect the odd one to go here and there every now and then.

"It's not like we're replacing huge numbers of them. We don't have a huge problem," the spokeswoman said.

"Rangers carry replacements. We have embroidered colour versions available at the visitor centre for a few dollars."

- NZ Herald

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