Irresponsible 4WD activity puts access in doubt

November 18, 2016


Popular visitor sites in Southland are being destroyed because of inconsiderate four-wheel drive users, forcing the Department of Conservation (DOC) to rethink access rights to some areas.

Over the past twelve months, significant parts of the Mavora Lakes and Borland areas have been damaged by vehicles. Instances of rubbish-tipping are also on the rise.

Grant Tremain, DOC Principal Ranger, Recreation/Historic (Fiordland District) said that while 4WD activity is allowed on certain areas of conservation land, these are restricted to tracks built and maintained for that purpose:

“Reckless and thoughtless four-wheel driving is causing significant damage to the landscape. There is a code of conduct for four-wheel driving, designed for the long-term sustainability of the activity, and the environment.”

“If this wilful destruction of the environment persists, we may have to review vehicle access to certain areas of conservation land. This is a shame as there are many responsible four-wheel drive users in New Zealand who would never consider causing this kind of damage,” Grant Tremain said.

Four-wheel drivers are required to avoid sensitive areas, including alpine landscapes, swamps, waterways, sand dunes and river beds easily damaged by vehicles. Vehicles are also required to stay on tracks, and avoid widening them.

Bill Jarvie, Fish & Game Officer (Te Anau) said that he was very concerned about recent reports of 4WD activity at Mavora Lakes Conservation Park:

“Vehicles have been seen racing each other along the lakeside road, and there is clear evidence of destructive off-roading, and associated littering with bottles. Apart from the environmental impact this causes, this kind of activity puts the safety of legitimate park users at risk.”

“The Mavora Lakes area is popular with families, locals and overseas visitors whether they be camping, tramping, fishing or horse-riding,” Bill Jarvie said.

Those embarking on four-wheel driving are required to read and abide by the activity’s Care Code, available at

Anyone with information relating to prohibited 4WD activity should contact Grant Tremain on (03 249 0200).


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