Council contractor cops abuse installing signs on Hāwea track

by Lauren Pattemore - Oct 30, 2023

The Queenstown Lakes District Council says work to install new signage as part of Hāwea's Gladstone Track upgrades was paused after reports of verbal abuse towards a contractor.

Signposts were also illegally removed by members of the public, a spokesperson for the QLDC says. 

All up, 40 high-vis signs were scheduled to be put in place along the six-kilometre track, which is part of the Te Araroa national trail which stretches from Cape Reinga in Northland to Bluff in the south. 

Last week, Crux spoke to three Upper Clutha community leaders about the signs, who each relayed reports of local frustration at the plans, questioning a lack of consultation and whether the number of signs was excessive considering the natural environment. 

Crux first asked questions of the council about the difference of opinions on Gladstone Track management on October 19, and did not receive a reply until October 27, after publication of our initial story on the issue. 

According to a council spokesperson, some safety signage is mandatory along the track in line with guidelines set by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and the Department of Conservation, and community consultation is unnecessary.

"The reasons for signage include informing trail users, many of whom will be visitors unfamiliar with the route, about potential hazards and wayfinding, including where trails cross roads and accessways.

"Wider community consultation is generally not required for operational signage such as this."

However, the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust and the Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board had been involved in planning for the signs, the spokesperson says.

Staff are now working with elected members and other community representatives to discuss next steps for installing any signs, which, if council sticks to its original plan, will cost $10,000.

The signs are part of an upgrade to sections of the track that skirts Lake Hāwea, and the spokesperson says this work is being completed in partnership with local groups such as the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust, as part of a wider QLDC programme to create and maintain a network of trails.

Earlier this year the track underwent repairs, including widening, resurfacing, drainage improvements, culvert replacements and the trimming of vegetation. 

Main image: There are plans for 40 new warning signs on Gladstone Track in Hāwea, which the council says are required by government agencies.

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