A new footbridge over the Arrow River near Arrowtown
installed last year by John Mowatt and volunteers. ODT
Arrowtown trailblazer John Mowatt says "bureaucracy gone
mad" will not make him give up on his mission to extend an
all-weather track to Macetown after the Department of
Conservation told him he could build another bridge, no matter
how small, over the last creek on the historic route.
After 13 years of voluntary input, huge amounts of community
support from the Arrowtown Village Association and an
estimated input of $345,000, comprised of $105,000 in cash,
an estimated $230,000 in community service and time donated,
and $35,000 of his own money, Mr Mowatt has just one more
river to cross to complete the all-weather track from
Arrowtown to Macetown.
He has installed four bridges on the route up the Arrow
River, is working on another for the Soho Creek and has just
one more bridge to make it possible to walk the track without
getting wet feet.
The last creek to cross is the 1m-2m-wide, ankle-deep Coronet
Creek, also known as Eight Mile Creek.
Mr Mowatt was inspired to reinstate the all-weather track to
Macetown after hearing about the gold-miners who were
stranded there in a bad winter in the 1800s and left without
food supplies for three months, "which is why they made the
"Everyone I speak to is adamant they want an all-weather
track to Macetown," Mr Mowatt said.
But in a move he described as "bureaucracy gone mad", Doc
Having supported his track work so far, providing the
services of the conservancy archaeologist and bridge design
by its engineer, Doc has now said it will not allow Mr Mowatt
to build a bridge over Coronet Creek, citing its track
It says the creek, which crosses land it administers, is too
small to warrant a bridge and people should have the
experience of getting their feet wet, even on a day walk.
Doc Wakatipu area manager Greg Lind first wrote to Mr Mowatt
in May last year, outlining the department's track policy,
explaining that such streams did not need to be bridged in
order to meet Doc standards for tracks of the Arrowtown to
Doc refusal to allow bridge `bureaucracy gone mad'> From
Page 1It was classified as a walking track for day visitor
use and, as such, expressed in the department's standards,
was "not required to have bridges in the locations
described", Mr Lind said.
Furthermore, the Arrowtown-Macetown track linked to the
Motatapu Track, classified as a "tramping track" catering to
"back-country adventure" users and, as such, had even less
requirement for bridging, Mr Lind said.
Doc's standards applied to conditions of "normal flow" in
creeks such as Coronet Creek for "normal" visitor groups and
a bridge was not required to maintain the experience.
Adding unnecessary bridges to the department's considerable
asset base of about 400 structures in the Wakatipu was also a
consideration, he said.
Undaunted, Mr Mowatt has continued to seek the department's
approval to bridge the small Coronet Creek, saying it would
ensure the dry-weather-walk experience, but recently received
another letter from Doc area programme manager community
relations John Roberts confirming the department's earlier
Mr Roberts said the track and road from Arrowtown to Macetown
did not belong to Doc but was formed over various pieces of
private and publicly owned land.
Doc valued Mr Mowatt's work, but it had to be consistent with
implementing its policies.
The Motatapu Track to Wanaka started at Macetown, Mr Roberts
Doc did not have a track to Macetown because there was an
While Doc did not have ownership of most of the track, it did
administer the marginal strip, sometimes referred to as the
Queen's chain, that Eight Mile, or Coronet, Creek, flowed
through, and therefore could apply its track standards to
"We've looked at it and found it doesn't fit with our
The whole route in doesn't have one standard, but for us to
look at it we would classify the marginal strip where it [the
Arrowtown to Macetown track] crosses the Eight Mile as being
in the day visitor category."
People were encouraged to have the experience of getting
their feet wet, he added.
"We don't want to be bridging every single little bit of
water in the country."
However, removing bridges over streams so small they did not
comply with Doc's bridging policy was something considered on
a "case-by-case" basis.
Mr Roberts conceded that if the creek was bridged people
could still choose to walk through the water and experience
wet feet, but it was the department's view they would take
the easy way and walk over the bridge.
"It changes the experience for people."
Richard Newman, chairman of the Arrowtown Village
Association, which has supported Mr Mowatt's work with
funding and gaining resource consents, said while the
association did not want to continue funding more bridges
because of other priorities, it still supported Mr Mowatt.
Mr Newman saw no reason not to bridge the small Coronet
"Why not? It's hardly a bridge, it's just a plank, but it
makes a big difference to people who don't want to get their