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Upgrades made to West Auckland track will handle walkers without spreading kauri dieback - council

The Auckland Council says upgrades made to a popular West Auckland walking track will be robust enough to handle foot traffic over the summer period, without spreading kauri dieback disease.

It hopes to reopen the Kitekite Falls track in the Waitākere Ranges before Christmas.

Auckland Council's kauri dieback management ranger, Stu Leighton says they've had to completely rethink how they design tracks, and that's involved assessing the needs of the 2km walk, metre by metre.

"We’re doing all we can in terms of best practice for building the tracks, we’re looking at the science behind it. It’s as safe as we can possibly make it," Mr Leighton told 1 NEWS.

The $330,000 upgrade includes installing 275 metres of boardwalk, almost a kilometre of jack mat, a textile that raises people off the track, and laying a denser, harder gravel that doesn't move.

"The disease is still in the Waitākere Ranges, so it’s still spread by its own devices and spread by other vectors. But at least by doing this, and if people are really responsible, it will remove people as a vector for these areas," Mr Leighton says.

Foot traffic has been largely blamed for the spread of kauri dieback in the Waitākere ranges. Infected areas in the 16,000 hectare parkland have doubled in just five years.

Mr Leighton says it's up to the public to respect the forest by using the cleaning stations and keeping to the path.

"It’s like if you turned up at someone’s house, would you expect to walk inside with your muddy shoes? It’s a complete respect thing."

The council hopes to reopen more tracks in the Waitākere Ranges, but says that’ll take time.

"What we're proposing is that we’ll be going out to public consultation quite soon with a track reopening plan which will form the framework for the next four years or work for us.

"We’ll look to keep the heart of the park, where most of the kauri are, closed to the public."

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It’s hoped the $330,000 upgrade of the West Auckland walking track will handle foot traffic, without spreading kauri dieback disease. Source: 1 NEWS