The Southland Times and news website stuff.co.nz today posted up a story outlining briefly that DOC was considering opening up sections of the Kepler and Hollyford Tracks to mountain bikes (where it's currently banned). Below is the story from Stuff, you should head to the site though and vote as they're running a little opinion poll right now and it would look good if the results from that were at least in our favour. (There is also a poll here which is currently against bikes; would be good to swing that.)
Some of you may remember that Andy MacDonald has already been working with DOC on this.
And it should be worth noting that while we might be happy, groups of trampers and hikers might not be. You just need to look at this forum on Tramper.co.nz to see what the hiking fraternity thinks of the whole thing, mind you some of them are very level headed and can see the benefit from having a large National Park user group.
"The public will be asked whether the Kepler track, one of the country's great walks, should be opened to mountain bikers. The Department of Conservation Southland conservancy will open public consultation on whether the Kepler and the Hollyford tracks should be opened to mountain bikers on June 26. Mountain biking is banned on the tracks, but interest from bikers and potential developers of mountain bike-related businesses in and around Te Anau and Manapouri have sparked the winds of potential change. DOC spokeswoman Lizzie Sutcliffe said the interest received so far had not been insignificant. " While there are no formal projects in place, the department has been approached by interested parties keen on developing opportunities in and around Te Anau and Manapouri, including parts of the Kepler and Hollyford tracks amongst others." However, the issue would hang on the amount of public support for mountain biking on the tracks. "If there is public support for new mountain biking opportunities in Fiordland National Park, the department will undertake a partial review of the park management plan." Public consultation will last for at least 40 days."