The Department of Conservation is temporarily closing its visitor centres to the public as of today, Monday 23 March, and will cancel all hut and campsite bookings from tomorrow.
DOC director-general Lou Sanson said the cancellations included all Great Walks bookings for the rest of the season, up to 30 June 2020. People would receive a full refund.
Rangers would be visiting tracks and facilities, alerting people about the changes and checking people are complying.
“Social distancing is key to preventing the community spread of Covid-19. Given the risk of potential community transmission, we have decided to cancel all accommodation bookings, including Great Walks,” Sanson said.
“We are also temporarily closing our visitor centres to the public for the same reason. Although the doors are closed, our staff are only a phone call or email away and can still help people who want information.”
DOC would be monitoring conservation areas and facilities across the country to ensure public safety and adherence to Government guidelines.
Non-bookable campsites and remote backcountry huts would be closed if New Zealand reached Covid-19 alert level 3. For the time being, they were still available.
“Spending time in nature is great for our mental and physical wellbeing, and we’re still encouraging people to get out there – you just have to follow the latest advice. We recommend finding your own space outside with walks and activities that take less than a day, and avoiding activities that could leave you reliant on hut use,” Sanson said.
He added that DOC accommodation could not be used for self-isolation requirements.
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