Track difficulty to be scrutinised

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Boots, running shoes or jandals?
The levels of difficulty of Dunedin’s walking tracks are set to be scrutinised as part of an audit to gather data on the quality and gradients of the city’s tracks.
While the Department of Conservation monitored all its own tracks, the organisation would be auditing the Dunedin City Council-maintained tracks around the city on the council’s behalf, Doc Coastal Otago district recreation and historic ranger Shay van der Hurk said.
Mr van der Hurk said the audit would allow both Doc and the DCC to understand the different grades of the walking tracks around the city and the criteria for each of these, which is outlined in the “Tracks and Outdoor Visitor Structures” handbook.
While he could not confirm exactly how many walking tracks there were around the city, as this was something the audit would provide, he said Doc had inspected its 42 tracks in Dunedin City and there were “at least” another 43 under DCC control.
The aim of providing gradings of tracks was to inspire residents to get out and go walking and give people the “confidence” to determine whether they should attempt a track.
The audit team was also working with the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation to look at the accessibility of the tracks, the foundation’s Otago-Southland disability sport adviser, Bridget Meyer, said.
The disability organisation was developing an app so people with accessibility issues could get information on the quality of the tracks, including whether there were wheelchair-accessible toilets nearby, the situation with sand and disabled car parking and what the track width was, she said. “[Then] they can make a decision if they can do it.”
As well as measuring the width, gradient and quality of track (tracks are graded on how many metres of mud they have in relation to solid ground), Doc was also aiming to install counters on tracks to paint a “broader picture” of which areas were used the most and how that corresponded to the amount  of maintenance they received, Mr van der Hurk said.
DCC recreation planning and facilities manager Jendi Paterson said “having nature throughout the city” was one of Dunedin’s strong points, so a full map of the city’s walking spaces would be an asset for Dunedin residents and visitors. “It is a pretty exciting time for the city.”