31 Dec 2016

Trampers stricken by tummy bug

10:49 pm on 31 December 2016

Officials are monitoring the condition of trampers after a gastro bug outbreak in part of the Nelson Lakes National Park.

Lake Rotoiti bush, Nelson Lakes National Park.

Nelson Lakes National Park Photo: RNZ/Tracy Neal

Department of Conservation (DOC) Nelson Lakes operations manager John Wotherspoon said 12 members of a tramping party of 16 on the Travers-Sabine Circuit had fallen ill.

A hut warden raised the alarm yesterday that members of the group were unwell with vomiting and diarrhoea, he said.

There were isolated reports of other people being unwell, but they were not yet at the stage of closing huts on the track, Mr Wotherspoon said.

"If we thought it was really widespread, we would, but it seems it's largely one party which has been quite badly affected - I feel sorry for them as they're several families tramping together and 12 of the 16 have come down [with it], across the last few days," he said.

Mr Wotherspoon said the group came out of the area today and had been put up in an empty DOC house until they were better.

"They're out now - they came out about lunchtime today and we're just monitoring the situation through our hut wardens to see if it picks up.

"We're lucky we've got a vacant staff house we can put them in and keep them away from the rest of the public," Mr Wotherspoon said.

DOC is advising people to take extra hygiene precautions, and it has been in close contact with public health specialists.

"Trampers are advised to clean, wash and dry their hands before and after using the toilet, before handling food or touching food preparation surfaces. Signs are being erected at huts to warn of the risk.

"We have put extra hand sanitiser and bleach in place at huts along the 80km loop to make sanitation easier," Mr Wotherspoon said.

It was not known how many people were in the area at the moment, he said.

"Not all the huts are bookable so we can't say how many people are on the circuit, however it is a busy time of year and the huts would normally be half to three quarters full."

Mr Wotherspoon said it usually took people about five days to complete the circuit.