Excellent T42 Turnout
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.