The Department of Conservation (DOC) is seeking information after two huts on the edge of Lake Manapouri in Fiordland National Park were vandalised last month.
DOC says vandals badly damaged Shallow Bay Hut by smashing its interior walls, floor and bunk ladders. Hut floorboards were torn up for firewood and the fireplace filled up with broken bottles in that incident.
DOC Te Anau Principal Ranger, Grant Tremain says the vandalism is yet another case of hugely disappointing behaviour in the area.
“Shallow Bay Hut is a wee gem of a hut and has been around since the late 1950s,” he said.
“The hut is an easy one and a half hour walk from Rainbow Reach, so it’s great for families to visit on day trips or stay overnight. It’s also easily accessible by boat, being located right on the edge of Lake Manapouri.
“It’s frustrating that one group of idiots can ruin the hut for everyone else.”
Nearby on the Kepler Track, the Moturau Hut toilet block – which has the water supply turned off during winter – had a door kicked in and human excrement deposited in the bowl.
Mr Tremain described the attack as a disgusting and lazy act by the individual concerned.
“The toilet block is kept locked and water turned off for winter to reduce the risk of pipes freezing and bursting, but the nearby pit long-drop toilet is well signposted,” he said.
“It’s important people poo in a loo when they’re available, but please don’t kick in locked doors and leave nasty surprises for the next people to clean up.”
It isn’t the first time huts in the area have been damaged by vandals. Freeman Burn Hut, also easily accessed by boat on Lake Manapouri, was severely damaged by users about three years ago.
The Shallow Bay and Moturau huts have now been repaired. Work was carried out when the area dropped to COVID-19 Alert Level 2.
“We are keen to hear from anyone who might know who is responsible for the damage,” Mr Tremain said.
“I’ve had phone calls from some very grumpy locals who cannot understand why others would damage huts in this way. All up, the repairs are estimated to cost at least $3,000. This money comes from the public purse so ultimately the taxpayer is affected by vandalism to DOC huts.”
Anyone with information relating to this damage should contact Grant Tremain by email email@example.com or calling +64 3 249 0200.