Lake mess horrifies

Boats lined up at the Waikaremoana Holiday Park. Photo / File.

VISITORS to Lake Waikaremoana are leaving more than their footprints.

Waikaremoana operations manager Here Titoko says the Te Urewera Trust has been horrified by the level of waste and sense of entitlement many people seem to have toward Te Urewera, Waikaremoana.

The most southern part of Te Urewera, Lake Waikaremoana, is a place where people from all corners of the Earth come to trek, camp, fish, hunt or cruise the lake by boat.

Litter, including plastics, continue to be left here, says Ms Titoko.

“From November 2017 to February 2018, we collected 3.7 tonnes of rubbish from just one campsite, the Mokau campground, and this did not include about the same level of empty alcohol bottles, tin cans, or plastics that were recycled.

“Worse, is the waste wantonly strewn in the bushes and thrown into the lake. As part of regrowing into our old-new responsibilities as Tuhoe, we have been horrified by the level of waste and sense of entitlement that many people seem to have toward Te Urewera, Waikaremoana.”

Cats and dogs have been also been abandoned by their owners, creating more problems in the area.

“These abandoned pets are breeding as wild animals in our bush and are surviving on the few native species who are already struggling to fend for themselves against possums, rats and stoats,” said Ms Titoko.

Food scraps left under mattresses at the huts attracted mice and rats into the sleeping quarters, making it unpleasant for all who sleep there, as well as for those who have to clean it.

“Huts, campgrounds and facilities are not the only things that need to be cleaned or maintained — boat owners need to do their part in cleaning and maintaining their boats before leaving one living system and entering another.

“Active respect requires trampers, campers and fishermen to clean their gear and equipment.

“Without doing a proper check or clean, you could be introducing a living organism from another environment that is not suited for Te Urewera,” she said.

One such organism is Lagarosiphon — an aqua weed that has infested large areas along the Waikaremoana shoreline, suffocating other plant and animal life in the water.

Ms Titoko said the work involved in eradicating this weed had been an ongoing battle since it was first discovered in 1998, drawing unnecessarily from resources to manage a weed infestation issue instead of strengthening the effort of native species to thrive.

“Please help us to raise our collective reverence for Te Urewera.”

VISITORS to Lake Waikaremoana are leaving more than their footprints.

Waikaremoana operations manager Here Titoko says the Te Urewera Trust has been horrified by the level of waste and sense of entitlement many people seem to have toward Te Urewera, Waikaremoana.

The most southern part of Te Urewera, Lake Waikaremoana, is a place where people from all corners of the Earth come to trek, camp, fish, hunt or cruise the lake by boat.

Litter, including plastics, continue to be left here, says Ms Titoko.

“From November 2017 to February 2018, we collected 3.7 tonnes of rubbish from just one campsite, the Mokau campground, and this did not include about the same level of empty alcohol bottles, tin cans, or plastics that were recycled.

“Worse, is the waste wantonly strewn in the bushes and thrown into the lake. As part of regrowing into our old-new responsibilities as Tuhoe, we have been horrified by the level of waste and sense of entitlement that many people seem to have toward Te Urewera, Waikaremoana.”

Cats and dogs have been also been abandoned by their owners, creating more problems in the area.

“These abandoned pets are breeding as wild animals in our bush and are surviving on the few native species who are already struggling to fend for themselves against possums, rats and stoats,” said Ms Titoko.

Food scraps left under mattresses at the huts attracted mice and rats into the sleeping quarters, making it unpleasant for all who sleep there, as well as for those who have to clean it.

“Huts, campgrounds and facilities are not the only things that need to be cleaned or maintained — boat owners need to do their part in cleaning and maintaining their boats before leaving one living system and entering another.

“Active respect requires trampers, campers and fishermen to clean their gear and equipment.

“Without doing a proper check or clean, you could be introducing a living organism from another environment that is not suited for Te Urewera,” she said.

One such organism is Lagarosiphon — an aqua weed that has infested large areas along the Waikaremoana shoreline, suffocating other plant and animal life in the water.

Ms Titoko said the work involved in eradicating this weed had been an ongoing battle since it was first discovered in 1998, drawing unnecessarily from resources to manage a weed infestation issue instead of strengthening the effort of native species to thrive.

“Please help us to raise our collective reverence for Te Urewera.”

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Megan Kelso - 5 months ago
I was interested to read the comments from Ms Titoko regarding Waikaremoana - I have been visiting this beautiful lake for many years, both when my parents had a bach at Onepoto and to Mokau. I agree with her comments regarding rubbish and also that it is attracting pests. However in past years the rubbish collection at Mokau has happened on nearly a daily basis and the ablutions were also kept very clean. This year in 10 days this camp ground was full - the rubbish was collected once and the ablutions cleaned once. With the amount of campers that were there, this failed to meet expectations from previous years and campers were having to accumulate rubbish around their camp sites and take it with them. For the first time ever there were dogs at the camp ground and no one appeared to be policing this - in past years, DoC rangers would have told them to remove their dogs. Possums and stoats were also seen in numbers, which has not happened in the past. Also, for the first time ever, there were jet skis on the lake until a few campers got together and advised them to leave or keep their jet skis off the lake. So perhaps it is time for the debating/arguing to stop and the lake's best interest to be made the main issue; to band together to keep this beautiful, tranquil lake in its natural state for people to continue to enjoy; and for the wild life to be able to replenish. The other option is to keep everybody away - and this would be a very sad day for a lot of responsible people.

Cran Gage - 5 months ago
Totally agree with the comments. These areas are fragile and need to be protected for future generations to enjoy. The behaviour of people while in these areas has got a lot to be desired.

Anna Maclaurin - 5 months ago
Hmm . . . I was at a school camp at Mokau end of November. We walked to Wanganui hut in fairly wet conditions. I was appalled to see a herd of horses in the park. The track was appalling, as they had free range from Hoprahine to the flats on the other side. There was no rubbish left at the site, but maybe if the people who control the park monitored it daily then there wouldn't be such a big problem.
We certainly took out all our rubbish, as did several other campers who I spoke to.

Long-time Waikaremoana lover(29years in the running ) - 5 months ago
It is interesting that these complaints are coming up now when the rubbish collection has been removed and the camp warden presence is few and far between. While camping there this summer at least three different dogs were brought into the camp, with no camp warden to be seen. Since DoC has not been in charge, this beautiful place has been going downhill.

Jan Davidson, Melbourne (born in Gisborne) - 5 months ago
My Dad, Tim Warren, who lived at Lake Waikaremoana for 37 years, would be shocked and so sad to hear this. Someone needs to be accountable for the rubbish left behind and if the visitors aren't, then clearly the guardians of this beautiful place must take steps to keep it clean of garbage in busy holiday times.
This is a disgrace that these visitors have no respect for the land, water and all creatures great and small.
The management/guardians need to step up and immediately put something into place so this never happens again, or we will all lose something so precious and beautiful that we've all taken for granted will always be there for us in pristine conditions.
I sincerely hope a solution is found for this.

James - 5 months ago
I also agree with the comments regarding this stunning place, which I have been visiting for over 40 years. I agree we all need to take responsibility for removing 100 percent of our rubbish.
Sad to have to say, though, the quality and lack of care in maintaining and cleaning the great walk huts is really poor. Weeds growing a foot high in the spoutings, broken windows, blocked toilets, undrinkable tap water and zero firewood. This is only a recent problem, starting about two years ago. No problem if it's only a few dollars to stay, but a group of say four people costs $128 a night!

Vennesa White, Opotiki - 5 months ago
Campers should be responsible for taking out their own rubbish, why leave it for someone else to dispose of? They apply this rule at other camping areas/sites. Together we can contribute to keeping it clean, green and pristine.

Rev Hone Te Rire, Te Kuiti - 5 months ago
Our responsibility comes in many forms, not the least being respectful to the places and people who provide a place of leisure and serenity for us. All we need to do is show our gratitude. Clean up after yourself. I am from these beautiful places, Waikaremoana, Urewera, Tuhoe.

Brenda Toma, Auckland - 5 months ago
Whoever manages the area now may not have the resourcing to do the daily things like yester years. Resources would be few and far between, and allocated in areas or matters more important than this. It is the responsibility of each individual who goes to this beautiful area to do their part, but it seems there are less that do now. I guarantee, though, that if the area was closed off to people, those very ignorant, lazy people would be jumping up and down making a scene.

Te Oriwa Waiariki, Rotorua - 5 months ago
It's SIMPLE, what you bring in you take out.
Lake Waikaremoana has NO rubbish dump or Recycle centre. Sooooo TAKE ALL YOUR RUBBISH OUT VISITORS. That's ALL YOU HAVE TO DO!!

Local tangata whenua - 5 months ago
Visitors to Lake Waikaremoana travel a long way to stay and enjoy the place, and when camping pay a tidy sum for the privilege. Generally speaking, and in my experience, visitors love and respect the natural beauty of Waikaremoana, and would sooner cut off a limb than trash the place. If the place was being managed properly there's no way people could get away with trashing. My regards to those who have stepped up to stop visitors from breaking the rules - even though it's not your job. The Te Urewera Board, made up of DoC, Te Uru Taumatua (the Tuhoe post-settlement entity) and the local tribal authority, govern and oversee the Great Walk now called Te Ara A Tane. If the park is in such a state, what are they doing about it? And how are those employed to care for it actually doing that? In the past two years, the park has become overrun not just with rubbish but with pests all over the road and bush. Visitors are increasingly dissatisfied with a lack of quality and timely communication, transportation and accommodation. As local tangata whenua we watch and wait for those with the power, resources and authority to simply start doing the right thing.

Steve, Auckland - 5 months ago
My family and I have been visiting Waikaremoana every Xmas for many years. We camped at Mokau and boated around the great walk meeting our family doing day walks. The great walk track was in a bad state and you could also smell the toilets. Wanting to use the little boys, I could see other users' waste almost reaching the top - obviously these toilets had not been cleaned in some time. First time I have ever seen the track huts, campsites and toilets in an appalling state. DoC staff kept the place clean, tidy and safe, and quite often would welcome you at the huts - where the tracks were always opened, cleared and up to standard. Three times I have been back and I haven't seen it kept since. Mokau and Rosie bay are in the worst state I have ever seen. No camp warden and activity at the campground was a concern to other campers, which was ignored by your operations team. There used to be clean public toilets every day at Mokau, now they are not being maintained and cleaned, rubbish collection never happened at Mokau and we stayed in for eight nights. I was appalled that since new management took over, Waikaremoana is not being looked after and cared for like it once was. We borrowed a boat because we read there were no more water taxis. What once was a great walk sounds now like a great shame.

Gary - 5 months ago
Bring back DoC . . . .

Shirl, Ruakaka - 5 months ago
I totally agree with Ms Titoko. I last went camping at Te Urewera in 2010. You saw the men come and take the rubbish away and clean the loo areas. We took our rubbish out of the park grounds and deposited it in the town rubbish bins. Our boat and gear was washed down before we left home. At one of the huts someone had mounded up potato scraps and they were growing nicely. I know it's the wrong thing to do. I have been camping here approx 8-9 times so far in my life. A beautiful part of NZ. Please take your rubbish with you.

Nirok, Wellington - 5 months ago
Anyone been there recently know what the wasp situation is like this year? Last year was terrible.

Stevo Winiata-White, Wellington - 4 months ago
I am astounded at what I am reading about the desecration of our wonderful Lake Waikaremoana - with rubbish strewn down the banks, and into the lake. My family has been living there for 10 generations-plus, below our mountain Panekire at Whareama to Onepoto. Us Tuhoe Nation people are proud guardians of looking after our mountains and rain forests, and ensure they are left alone and remain pristine. Haumapuhia, who is the guardian of our Lake Waikaremoana, resides in the Waikaretaheke river in the form of a rock. Beware to those people desecrating our lake and lands - or you will be joining her. The lake is there for ALL to enjoy.

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