The NZ government is spending $NZ13.7m ($12.7m) repairing huts, tracks and other infrastructure in Fiordland damaged by a severe storm in February, according to wilderness.co.nz
The storm knocked out 79 tracks (a total of 440km), two huts, seven campsites, 32 bridges, 500 traps and two car parks, when nearly a metre of rain fell in three days.
To put that money into perspective, the new Paparoa Great Walk cost $NZ10m to build.
The spending will mean the Routeburn and Milford tracks should be ready to reopen for summer — the walks have been partially closed since February. Significant work will also be undertaken on the Hollyford, Greenstone-Caples and Rees-Dart tracks.
The news will likely be well-received from Fiordland businesses, who have been calling for investment in tourism infrastructure so the region is ready for when tourists return.
A $NZ5.7m project to upgrade tracks, toilets and the road to the Oparara Arches in Kahurangi National Park is also set to get underway. The upgrade was controversial after DOC investigated creating a light show and installing lifesize moas in the natural limestone formation, but now it appears there will be a more modest upgrade to facilities.
The government has also announced $NZ1.1b investment in conservation in this year’s budget, which is expected to create 11,000 jobs.
While the bulk will go towards predator control and other environmental projects, some money will also pay to maintain and upgrade huts and other recreational facilities.