Ex­cel­lent T42 Turnout

NZ4WD - - WEEKEND DRIVE - Story by Peter Vahry. Pho­tos by PV & Mike Fitz­mau­rice.

The weather fore­cast on the Thurs­day in Novem­ber was not great for a week­end of cut­ting back on the Ton­gariro For­est’s 42 Tra­verse route. How­ever, weeks of plan­ning was in place for the an­nual cut back, so it was go­ing to go ahead any­way. Friends of 42 Tra­verse Inc. had co-or­di­nated with the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion ( DoC), who ad­min­is­ter the Ton­gariro For­est to al­low the use of 4WDs on the route be­fore the of­fi­cial open­ing day of De­cem­ber 1 and to use the DoC Health and Safety pa­per work for the project. A DoC staff mem­ber at­tended the Satur­day morn­ing safety brief­ing at 9.30am be­fore we all headed into the for­est. The turnout from the 4WD com­mu­nity was again ex­cel­lent, with over forty peo­ple from around the North Is­land. The vol­un­teers grouped into teams gen­er­ally com­pris­ing of some ma­chin­ery op­er­a­tors – chain­saw and brush cut­ters – who were fol­lowed by clean-up crews who shifted cut veg­e­ta­tion off the track. The num­ber of vol­un­teers did cause a slight prob­lem in that the tar­geted sec­tion of the 42 Tra­verse is a sin­gle ve­hi­cle width with few pass­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties over its five-plus kilo­me­tres. That made mov­ing groups along the track as their sec­tions were cleared, a lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenge and un­for­tu­nately con­sumed a bit of valu­able work­ing time. A les­son to be learned for fu­ture projects. For­tu­nately, there were few other users on the 42 Tra­verse, with just some quad bikes and a cou­ple of cy­clists who were all pa­tient and thanked us for the im­prove­ment to the track. With the full 42 Tra­verse track be­ing close to 40 kilo­me­tres long, it was quite an achieve­ment to be able to re­port back to DoC that the teams had man­aged to cut back around ten kilo­me­tres over the week­end and with­out in­ci­dent. A rough cal­cu­la­tion of the ‘man-hours’ over the two days gave a fig­ure of 280 man-hours as a con­tri­bu­tion to main­tain the 42 Tra­verse. The words ‘man-hours’ do not do jus­tice to the ladies who pitched in with en­thu­si­asm too. The dis­tance cut was how­ever only quar­ter of the 42 Tra­verse and the rest con­tin­ues to grow as the re­gen­er­at­ing bush reaches for the sky and any space it can find. Peo­ple power alone is not go­ing to be enough to keep the track cleared in the long term and al­ter­na­tive me­chan­i­cal op­tions are be­ing con­sid­ered. Cost is ob­vi­ously a ma­jor fac­tor when talk­ing of 40 kilo­me­tres cut back on both sides. There are lim­its too on any ma­chine size on the track as it nar­rows in some places and the bridge struc­tures are limited in their weight ca­pac­ity. Users of the 42 Tra­verse can as­sist by trim­ming of­fend­ing over­growth, but only with hand tools as it is an of­fence to even have a chain­saw in a ve­hi­cle, with­out spe­cific per­mis­sion when on DoC ad­min­is­tered lands. At this point I should prob­a­bly in­clude a dis­claimer ad­vis­ing my re­la­tion­ship to the 42 Tra­verse. I’m cur­rently the chair­man of the group ‘Friends of 42 Tra­verse’ ( http:// friend­sof42­tra­verse. nz/) who have a MOU with DoC and are in progress to­wards sign­ing a part­ner­ship agree­ment to work with DoC man­ag­ing the main­te­nance of the 42 Tra­verse for recre­ation ac­cess. The 42 Tra­verse is a unique route across a great land­scape and must be re­tained for the fu­ture. Friends of 42 Tra­verse will need ev­ery­one’s help to fi­nance the long-term main­te­nance to keep it sus­tain­able for recre­ation.

Mapped out. The 42 Tra­verse trail.

Four-wheel­ers on the tools.

Driver’s eye view.

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