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'Unwelcome guest' - Bed bugs arrive at Old Ghost Road track for first time

A bed bug infestation in one hut on the Old Ghost Road track in the north west South Island has forced all of the huts along the 85 kilometre track to be treated. 

Old Ghost Road track. Source: Richard Rossiter

It is the first time bed bugs have made their way to the long-forgotten gold miners’ road, which has been revived as a mountain biking and tramping trail.

The Old Ghost Road track connects the old dray road in the Lyell (Upper Buller Gorge) to the Mokihinui River in the north.

Phil Rossiter, chairman of the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust, told 1 NEWS users of the track recently let them know about the bed bugs. 

"The issue seems to be focused on one hut, but naturally, and because of the flow of users from hut to hut, we are addressing all huts as a precaution."

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Bed bugs feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals at night. They like to hide in dry, dark places during the day. 

There are six huts along the Old Ghost Road, but the main hut afflicted is Ghost Lake Hut. 

"There was an isolated report from one other hut, but there have been no further signs or reports from that hut, subsequent to a treatment," Rossiter said. 

He said the trust had been offering in-coming users the opportunity to defer or cancel their visit free of charge as the situation is dealt with.

"We are working on the basis that a single bed bug is an unwelcome guest."

Bed bug Source: 1 NEWS

Rossiter said the focus was on thorough and persistent treatment of the huts until the trust was confident the situation is resolved.

"This is seemingly an extension of issues that have been experienced elsewhere around the country in recent months and we're keen to do our bit to try and break the cycle of spread."

As part of this, Rossiter said the trust was contacting recent visitors and encouraging them to consider treating their equipment as a precaution to protect against the risk of onwards spread.

Hand-built trail through Old Ghost Road track's alpine section. Source: Phil Rossiter

The revelation bed bugs have made themselves comfortable in Ghost Lake Hut comes just weeks after the Department of Conservation (DOC) temporarily closed three huts on the Whanganui Journey Great Walk and fumigated them after reports of the insects. 

Also in April, DOC announced it would close North Arm Hut on the Rakiura Track for a refit after the "toughest bed bugs known to mankind" decided to make themselves at home.