The Department of Conservation is closing its campsites and huts from tomorrow to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
That includes all Great Walks bookings for the rest of the season, up to June 30. People will receive a full refund and rangers will be visiting tracks and facilities to let people know and to check they're complying.
DoC director-general Lou Sanson said the move was for the safety of visitors, volunteers and staff amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
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"Social distancing is key to preventing the community spread of Covid-19. Given the risk of potential community transmission, we have decided to cancel all accommodation bookings, including Great Walks," Sanson said.
"We are also temporarily closing our visitor centres to the public for the same reason. Although the doors are closed, our staff are only a phone call or email away and can still help people who want information."
The Government has announced New Zealand is at Alert Level 2 for the virus, meaning the disease is contained, but the risks of community transmission are growing.
While non-bookable campsites and remote backcountry huts are currently open, if the alert level is raised to 3 they will close.
Currently, users must ensure they maintained minimum separation requirements and followed all personal hygiene guidance. DoC accommodation could not be used for self-isolation, Sanson said.
"Spending time in nature is great for our mental and physical wellbeing, and we're still encouraging people to get out there – you just have to follow the latest advice. We recommend finding your own space outside with walks and activities that take less than a day, and avoiding activities that could leave you reliant on hut use.
"While you're out and about make sure you're doing your part to keep yourself and others safe. Stay up to date on the latest information, follow guidance on non-essential domestic travel and minimum separation requirements, and take necessary safety and hygiene precautions."
Further information on track updates and closures is available on DoC's website.