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National MP slams DoC over slow fix for Cathedral Cove track

Author
Al Williams,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Apr 2024, 4:35pm
A slip at Cathedral Cove. Photo / Chris Twemlow, Department of Conservation
A slip at Cathedral Cove. Photo / Chris Twemlow, Department of Conservation

National MP slams DoC over slow fix for Cathedral Cove track

Author
Al Williams,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Apr 2024, 4:35pm

Community and stakeholder activities are the next key steps in the ongoing effort to reinstate safe walking access to Cathedral Cove, the Department of Conservation says.

The popular Coromandel walking track has been closed since February 2023 after it was damaged by extreme weather events, including Cyclone Gabrielle.

DoC Hauraki Waikato Taranaki regional director Tinaka Mearns said sharing information with the community and stakeholder groups was an important part of the process as the organisation worked through a “complex set of overlapping issues pertaining to management of the site and the feasibility of reinstating the track”.

Her comments come less than a week after Coromandel MP Scott Simpson took a swing at DoC over the ongoing closure of Cathedral Cove.

In Parliament on Tuesday last week Simpson said DoC had been “so slow to get that track open”.

Simpson told the house DoC had a “very slow timetable”.

Mearns, last week, said DoC was continuing to work towards a June deadline set by Minister of Conservation Tama Potaka.

While DoC said it would not be responding to Simpson’s parliamentary speech, on Tuesday, in a written statement the department said it is working closely with Ngāti Hei, Thames-Coromandel District Council and Destination Hauraki Coromandel on planned activities and ensuring conversations with the community are forward-looking and positive.

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Coromandel MP Scott Simpson. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

“Ensuring we’re aligned with Ngāti Hei and key government organisations is vital. A natural extension of that is creating community stakeholders’ awareness, on the work and the progress and importantly hearing their perspectives,” Mearns said.

“We know it’s crucial to have honest conversation with the community on what the future holds for this site and how we can reinstate walking access to the beach.”

DoC, Ngāti Hei and technical experts visited the site in March to assess access and infrastructure options.

Technical experts returned to the site this week, guided by DoC staff, to carry out more investigations.

Expert advice would be included in information DoC said it would share at a community drop-in session planned for May.

Details of that session would be publicised in the coming weeks.

DoC regional director for Hauraki-Waikato-Taranaki Tinaka Mearns.
DoC regional director for Hauraki-Waikato-Taranaki Tinaka Mearns.

The first phase of data gathering and information sharing for the project is complete.

With support from Ngāti Hei, DoC undertook a summer visitor experience survey in February.

The results of the survey of more than 200 visitors strongly indicated Cathedral Cove remained a top New Zealand visitor destination.

Analysis of the survey responses revealed the overall satisfaction with the Cathedral Cove experience was the highest for any DoC-managed destination in the country.

How people access the cove, currently only by boat or kayak, did not influence their satisfaction rating, according to the survey results.

Scenery and landscapes were the drawcard for visitors to Cathedral Cove.

The survey also assessed facilities and services for visiting Cathedral Cove, with the frequency of water transport scoring highly (3.9 out of a possible maximum four), followed by safety information and structures (3.7 out of four).

A second survey will also form part of DoC’s community update on the future of Cathedral Cove and will be launched in early May.

This article was originally posted on the NZ Herald here.

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