There are no plans to reopen one of the Waikato's most popular walking track, the Hakarimata Summit Track in Ngaruawahia, because of difficulties of physical distancing and hygiene under Alert Level 2.
The track is co-managed by DOC and Waikato District Council, who say it remains closed until further notice because of the high number of people who usually use the track.
The track, with narrow paths and steps with handrails in places, offers a 335m climb from Brownlee Avenue in Ngaruawahia to the summit - with 1349 steps.
Waikato District Council, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Waikato Tainui have been discussing the option of opening the track under alert level 2 but agree it needs to stay closed to keep everyone safe.
The track is one of the most popular in the Waikato, attracting around 200,000 visits a year. The track meets the Hakarimata Walkway and the summit tower at 374 metres above sea level.
DOC and WDC say they share concerns that people will not be able to maintain physical distancing while using the track – it is simply too narrow in a number of places.
"People using the track will cross paths frequently and this increases the risk of possible virus transmission – particularly as some path users are exerting themselves on the track," a statement from WDC says.
"Until we can successfully implement a system to record who visits this site, the track must remain closed under alert level 2. We understand this decision will be disappointing, but the community's health and well-being and stopping the possible transmission of Covid-19 is our priority," WDC chief executive Gavin Ion says.
"The barriers at the Brownlee Ave entrance will remain in place and we are urging the public not to climb over them to access the track.
"The reopening of the track will be considered when it is safe to do so. We hope this will be before the Government moves the country to alert level 1, but we need to wait for an adequate way of contact tracing," Mr Ion says.
DOC's Waikato District operations manager Ray Scrimgeour encourages the public to explore other tracks around the district – and to do so with caution and showing courtesy to other track users.
"The Government is expecting visitors to take responsibility for their health and the health of others, including when they are outdoors. People need to go prepared, and should check weather forecasts and conditions before they set out.
"While many of you will be eager to get out there, to save lives and stop the spread of Covid-19, it will be vital you travel safely and look after yourself and others when outdoors including ensuring contact tracing, keeping 2m physical distancing, not leaving home if you're unwell, hand washing and coughing into your elbow," Mr Scrimgeour says.