Officials are looking at partially or completely shutting more than 30 walking tracks around the North Island to help fight the rampant spread of kauri dieback disease.
It's taken just a decade for the soil-borne, kauri-killing scourge - which recently prompted the Department of Conservation (DoC) to classify the ancient giants as threatened for the first time ever – to spread across Auckland, Northland, the Coromandel and Waikato.
DoC is now proposing to restrict access to 34 tracks – particularly spots where there is high risk and low use, heavy upgrade costs, and alternative tracks nearby.
Those being considered for full closure include the Kauri Grove Walk and the Omahutu Kauri Sanctuary Walk in the Bay of Islands; the Whangaparapara Peak Track on Great Barrier Island; the Kauri Bush Track in Kaitaia; the Hukatere, lookout, Toatoa and Tutamoe tracks on the Kauri Coast; the Wairoa Stream Track near Tauranga; and Bratty's Bush Track near Whangarei.
Eyed for partial closure are Te Rereatukahia Hut Track near Tauranga; the Wharaekirauponga and Twin Kauri Short Walk in Coromandel; and Great Barrier Island's Old Lady Walk.
In all, the proposal involved 24 full closures and 10 partial ones, and DoC had been contacting local Treaty partners and recreational groups about it.
"As there is currently no proven cure or treatment for kauri dieback, we can only save kauri by stopping the disease from spreading," said DoC's northern North Island director of operations, Sue Reed-Thomas.
"There are a number of tools DoC uses to help stop the spread of the disease, like track upgrades and re-routing, but in some instances track closure needs to be considered."
People were asked to make submissions on the proposal by August 10.
"This consultation process allows the public, who we know have a vested interested in the forest, kauri and kauri dieback, a chance to have their say."
Auckland Council has responded to threat by closing forested areas of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, and 10 higher-risk tracks in the Hunua Ranges Regional Park.