Biosecurity considerations for walking and tramping
Protect our environment when you're outdoors
- Check, clean, dry to stop the spread of freshwaters pests and diseases
- Be aware the South Island is a controlled area
- Take note of specific freshwater pests
- Help protect our forests from kauri dieback
- Be on the lookout for pests and diseases
Freshwater pests, like didymo, spoil river activities for people and can damage the habitats of freshwater plants and animals. They can be spread by a single drop of water or plant fragment. It's everyone's responsibility to slow the spread of freshwater pests.
When tramping and walking you need to:
- Check – remove all obvious debris from boots and items that have been in contact with the water.
- Clean – spray boots and socks for at least one minute, or until completely soaked in a 10% biodegradable detergent solution (1 tablespoon of detergent for a 250ml spray bottle)
- Dry – drying will kill didymo, but even slightly moist items can harbour pests for months. To make sure didymo cells are dead, the item must be completely dry to the touch, inside and out, then left dry for at least another 48 hours before use.
Boots and equipment can spread freshwater pests
Freshwater pests, like didymo, oxygen weed and hornwort, are a serious threat to our rivers, streams and lakes.
They can spread quickly, and destroy the environmental, recreational and aesthetic values of our waterways.
Some freshwater pests are microscopic and not visible to the human eye. You could be spreading pests with just one drop of water.
Taking steps to prevent the movement of pests is especially important if you're crossing more than one stream or river.
Cleaning your tramping equipment
The thicker and denser your tramping equipment, the better it will be at holding moisture. Thick materials are slower to dry out, and more difficult to decontaminate completely with cleaning solutions.
When cleaning equipment, you should:
- remove all obvious debris from boots and items that have been in contact with water
- spray thick, dense or porous material for longer than other items to make sure the cleaning solution has soaked right through
- choose a decontamination solution that will not badly affect your equipment or the environment
- dispose of cleaning waste well away from waterways
- pay special attention to cleaning when crossing into a new catchment, and after the last crossing of the day.
Safety when cleaning
Your personal safety is important — always consider weather conditions, slippery rocks and detergent before decontaminating your equipment.
The South Island is a controlled area for didymo. This makes it a legal requirement to clean all gear used in the water before going from one waterway to another.
Take extra care on the Milford Track
Didymo is present in Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. To limit the spread of didymo, Milford Track walkers need to bring dry clothing and boots. If boots and socks are damp you will need to be disinfect them before leaving for the track.
Cleaning gear is provided at some huts but you are encouraged to carry your own supplies. You should check, clean, dry before going to Fiordland.
Find out more
- Prevent the spread of freshwater pests in Fiordland National Park – Department of Conservation website
- Find out about biosecurity when boating in Fiordland
These are the freshwater pests we are most concerned about:
Find out more
Kauri dieback is a fungus-like pathogen that kills both kauri trees and seedlings. We need to act now to protect our kauri forests from this disease.
We have no treatment or control tools, the only way we can save our kauri forests is to contain the disease in existing locations and stop the spread into healthy areas.
When visiting areas with native forest in the upper North Island:
- clean your footwear and other gear before you enter and as you leave the area
- stay on walking tracks
- keep off kauri roots (kauri tree roots can grow outwards 3 times as far as its branches).
Most significant kauri forests have signs at the entry points and exits to let you know that you need to take care to not spread kauri dieback.
How to identify a kauri tree
Kauri trees have greyish bark and leathery leaves.
Call the hotline if you see signs of the disease
If you think you have seen diseased kauri on public or private land, phone the Kauri Dieback Hotline on 0800 NZ KAURI (69 52 874).
Find out more
- Read more about kauri dieback
- Learn about the controlled areas in the Waitākere and Hunua Ranges
- Stop kauri dieback disease spreading – Keep Kauri Standing website
When you are walking or tramping in New Zealand, be on the lookout and call 0800 80 99 66 if you see:
- an animal pest
- a plant pest
- signs of plant or animal disease.
Find out more
- Minimising your impact – Department of Conservation website
- Safety in the outdoors – Department of Conservation website
Who to contact
If you have any questions about preventing the spread of pests and diseases when walking and tramping, call MPI on 0800 00 33 33.