DoC asks campers to assess their own risks this summer before traveling

To travel

DoC urges campers to evaluate their plans this summer: Urupukapuka Island in the Bay of Islands. Photo / File

The Department of Conservation campsites are expecting an exceptional summer with nearly 60,000 campers throughout the network.

The department is asking campers to familiarize themselves with the new rules and check the latest information before leaving this Christmas.

From next Wednesday, all visitors will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to spend the night at one of the some 300 vacation spots on the protected lands. This includes all accommodation in shelters, lodges and campsites.

The move is designed to protect most of the New Zealand summer and Kiwis camping out over Christmas, said Steve Taylor, director of heritage and visitors.

“The DoC will verify that those who camp on protected public land during the summer follow the rules. This means camping where permitted and having a vaccine check (or exemption) when staying at DoC campsites. “

The move to vaccine passes means the majority of sites will be able to remain open during the summer, but more distant sites may be affected by alert levels.

“When the risks to public health at these sites are deemed high and are not easily mitigated, we may also put in place restrictions or close facilities red or orange under the traffic light system. “

Some free, non-bookable sites may be closed to the public, including DoC facilities on shared lands and reserves.

Taylor says there have been site specific risk assessments in consultation with the iwi and communities.

Access to the trails and refuges at Te Urewera continues to be restricted due to health issues and facility repairs, delayed by this year’s closures.

The Waikaremoana runway which operates on Ngāi Tūhoe lands will not reopen until next year.

Tāmati Kruger, chairman of the board of Te Urewera, said “health and safety will continue to be the primary consideration in terms of accessing Te Urewera during the summer”.

While overnight campers will be required to show proof of vaccination, access to DoC lands and other areas will continue to be open to day visitors.

“Other DoC facilities, including the tracks, parking lots and most washrooms, remain open to everyone. “

To help keep the camps safe during the summer, Taylor asks clients to use common sense in assessing the risk to themselves and their group.

Checklist for summer camping

• What traffic light is the area at – red, orange or green?

• Will there be more vulnerable or unvaccinated people in my group (eg children under 12)?

• What are the following sleeping arrangements:

• Cabin / campsite capacity, shared cabin, sleeping platforms or individual berths

• is it possible to camp outside or near a hut (so I can carry tents to use if necessary).

• Is accommodation bookable – which means a higher level of certainty about the immunization status of others.

• Will it be possible to disinfect your hands, wear masks or stay 1 meter away from people who are not part of my group (eg.

• Is it likely to be a busy time (eg Saturday night, public holiday, weekend).

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