Police do not plan to close the Redwoods and Whakarewarewa Forest amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

A police spokeswoman confirmed today police had no plans to shut the popular recreational area but urged people exercising to follow the level 4 rules.

"Exercise should be done in a place that can be readily accessed from home, and two-metre physical distancing must be maintained."

She said exercise should not involve anything that might expose a person to danger or require search and rescue services.

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The Redwoods. Photo / File
The Redwoods. Photo / File

Mountain Bike Rotorua owner Tak Mutu said he loved the forest being open for people to enjoy but if they were heading in and "abusing the privilege" then he would fully support a closure.

"Riders shouldn't be going in there and meeting up with their mates or trying to take on grade four and five tracks ... it's unnecessary."

He said he would hate for people to ruin it for everyone else by flouting the rules.

Owner of Redwood's Treewalk, Bruce Thomasen, said people should be able to enjoy and walk the tracks if it is in "their own backyard" just like others around the city can enjoy natural gems nearby.

Police have no plans to shut Whakarewarewa Forest and Redwoods. Photo / File
Police have no plans to shut Whakarewarewa Forest and Redwoods. Photo / File

"If people can walk the tracks safely and practise social distancing, they should be allowed to."

Long Mile Rd and Waipa carparks had been closed since the start of the lockdown.

Rotorua Lakes Council operations general manager Jocelyn Mikaere said although the forest was open for walking and biking, people needed to take the situation seriously to reduce risk.
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She said they were continuing to monitor the situation and expected the public to act responsibly.

"We want the forest and other green spaces to continue to be a space where people can safely exercise while alert level 4 is in place."

Driving and putting others at risk, including emergency services staff if you have an accident or injure yourself, was the last thing essential service workers needed, she said.

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MDA Experience director Tak Mutu. Photo / File
MDA Experience director Tak Mutu. Photo / File

"People who choose to consistently ignore the rules that are in place to keep the community safe will be referred to the police."

Mountain Bike Rotorua First Responder team co-ordinator Barbara Jenks said the team had not had a callout since March 21.

The First Responder teams were well known in the forest for responding to mountain biking accidents.

She said it seemed people were "riding sensibly" and they had not been needed nearly as much as usual.

"We are normally operating seven days a week, but now we just have one person on call."
Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Local biker Kevin Page was mainly concerned about the risk mountain biking brought to essential workers.

He said he had made the decision not to go riding in the forest during the lockdown in case he had an accident and needed someone to come and help.

"From where I live I am seeing heaps of mountain bikers heading into the forest daily.

"I have three family members working in frontline health at the moment and they are worried. The risk of passing on this virus cannot be underestimated."

He said his family members were often dealing with mountain biker injuries and crashes were common in the sport for all skill levels.

What people need to know if they want to use the forest and other reserves:

* Vehicle access points to the forest are now closed

* If you want to access the forest for exercise, please do so by foot or bike – do not drive to the forest

* Do not meet up with others – stay in your bubble

* Stick to areas where you are able to easily stay 2m from anyone you may come across

* Be mindful of other users in public spaces

* Ride and exercise safely and within your ability

* Tell someone where you are going and take your mobile phone. Do not put yourself in a situation where you could be injured and require emergency help