Kahurangi National Park, December 2020
In 2014, Cyclone Ita badly damaged the western side of the Wangapeka Track, causing significant windfall and slips. At the time there was insufficient funding to fix the track, so it was downgraded to ‘route’ status west of Wangapeka Saddle.
When the Backcountry Trust asked outdoors people about their top priorities for hut and track work in the northern South Island, a number highlighted the western Wangapeka Track.
Happily, the government made available Kaimahi for Nature Funding (KFN). In early December 2020, the Ultimate Descents team of four went in with hand tools, chainsaw and scrub bars and cut the track down from the Wangapeka Saddle to the road-end near Little Wanganui. This made an excellent start towards getting the track back to a state that matches the eastern side of the track, and reopening it as a traditional link with the Leslie-Karamea track.
DOC has since done some further work near the road-end, but in the future the track will need further maintenance to bring it back to the required ‘tramping track’ standard.
Other future KFN work planned for the track involves fixing foundations at Belltown Manunui Hut.