One of Auckland’s most picturesque walks has officially re-opened after six years of restoration work.
Cascade Kauri, nestled in the Waitākere Ranges, is home to some of Aotearoa’s oldest and most precious trees.
“There’s no more exciting day for a park ranger than re-opening a sign and welcoming people back,” Auckland Council senior ranger Jack Jones told 1News.
The popular 4km walk was closed and had a rāhui put in place in 2017 after flash flooding destroyed several tracks and kauri dieback disease began to spread.
The disease “infects the roots and basically kind of strangles the tree from the inside out”, Te Kawerau Iwi Tiaki Trust’s Edward Ashby explained.
About 16 per cent of the trees in the forest are believed to have kauri dieback, including a 1000-year-old tree known as Aunt Agatha.
Local iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki is still coming to terms with the loss.
“It’s a living connection to the past, it’s our tupuna and so we take the loss of a big rākau like that as we would the loss of a loved one,” Ashby said.
Kauri dieback specialist Stuart Leighton said it’s “really important” for people to understand the impact of the disease.
“This is not something we are being alarmist about — this is something very real,” Leighton said.
Restoration of the tracks included the installation of brand-new boardwalks, washing stations and information signs.
But with kauri dieback still a major threat, visitors are being urged to follow the rules.
“Critical things we ask people to do is clean all their gear before they come; use all the hygiene stations that are put in place,” Leighton said.
“That’s to ensure we’re not moving any pathogens or weed seed.”
Ashby said if we lose the kauri, we “effectively lose the forest — it becomes a totally different thing”.
“These are essentially the lungs of our city.”