Boaties cruising around Coromandel’s Mercury Islands are being told to stay home as New Zealand’s COVID-19 restrictions continue.
Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Coromandel Operations Manager, Nick Kelly says he has received reports from local residents about pleasure boats cruising around waterways.
“We’ve got reliable information – from my staff and the crew of an essential supply vessel – about a steady stream of boats making their way to Ahuahu and the wider archipelago during this lockdown,” Mr Kelly said.
“It’s completely unacceptable. Boating and island hopping are not permitted at Level 4. People need to be adhering to the Government’s direction.
“DOC is committed to stamping out the virus and keeping communities safe from COVID-19. Anyone caught breaking the COVID-19 rules will be reported.
“The islands are not a part of boaties’ immediate ‘local area’, and access to these islands for recreational activities is not permitted.”
As well as flagrant breaches of the Level 4 rules, unauthorised visits to pest-free islands risks compromising the biosecurity of the islands and years of conservation work, he said.
“It’s critical people do not make landfall on predator-free islands and risk introducing pests.”
“These islands are sanctuaries to some of New Zealand’s most endangered species which are in ‘perpetual lockdown’ to ensure their survivability.”
Further south, in DOC’s Hauraki district, Kauaeranga Valley Rd – near Thames – public conservation land has been closed.
“The closure is to prevent people entering the valley to go tramping or hunting in what is usually a popular conservation recreation area. The Broken Hills recreation area has also been closed to the public,” Mr Kelly said.
He said the closure of the locations would remain in effect until COVID-19 alert levels drop and New Zealanders can again enjoy the outdoors beyond the immediate vicinity of their homes.