DOC hut with the ‘toughest bed bugs known to mankind’ to close for refit –

For weeks trampers have been struggling to sleep tight at a DOC hut on Stewart Island/Rakiura thanks to an infestation of the toughest bed bugs known to mankind, but the unwanted guests days may finally be numbered.

Complaints about the North Arm Hut on the Rakiura Track started in February, but despite five treatments at the 24-bunk Great Walk hut to clear the egg-laying invaders, the critters have continued to make their presence felt.

DOC has decided to close the hut for over a week from May 25 to June 3 for a full refit.

DOC Rakiura operations manager Ren Leppens had said the problem left rangers scratching their heads.


Complaints about the North Arm Hut on the Rakiura Track started in February.

READ MORE:* A great Great Walk on Stewart Island/Rakiura * Stewart Island visitor disappointed by visit to bed bug infested DOC hut on Rakiura Track* DOC urges respect for environment as New Zealand travel spikes


The North Arm Hut has 24-bunks.

Either these are the toughest bed bugs known to mankind or, they are hitching in from other places on peoples gear, Leppens said.

There were usually reports of small infestations on the island once every four or five years, Leppens said.

Bed bugs arent typically a problem on the island. Theyre master hitchhikers and given the huge increase in visitors to the island this year it would be impossible to track the source of the infestation.


Scratching a bite from a bed bug can lead to infection. (file photo)

The bugs feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals and hide in dry dark places during the day. The hut will be fully stripped and the bunk rooms re-lined.

Over Easter we did get a couple more reports of bed bugs that somehow missed the eviction notice. We think theyre probably just stragglers, rather than a new infestation, but weve re-treated the hut as a precautionary measure, said Leppens.

In March, one of the trampers on the Great Walk complained to Stuff about his stay at the hut.

Dave, who did not want his surname used, said virtually every bed at the North Arm Hut was full, but he could not get a good nights sleep thanks to his fellow trampers stomping and scrambling to shake off the critters.

Later that night, people were shaking their gear in the kitchen in a panic, Dave said.

The people who had chosen to sleep in the kitchen, rather than the bed bug bunks, ended up sleeping outside.

DOC has issued an alert on its website for the North Arm Hut.

Huts on the Rakiura Great Walk have been treated for bed bugs. DOC will continue to do everything we can to eliminate the issue. There will be disruptions at times as we undertake building maintenance and further treatments.

Take every precaution by checking gear to ensure bed bugs are not coming in or out of huts and other accommodation.

Leppens said no-one is at fault for the critters.

Bed bugs are like any other pest no one wants them and no one intentionally transports them from place to place and they are no reflection on the hygiene or cleanliness of the home, hut or gear they inhabit.

Were working with hikers on how they can be part of the solution. This means thoroughly checking and cleaning all gear before heading off to new locations and in particular airing out sleeping bags in bright sunlight.

The trampers who had been booked in at the time of the refit have been contacted and have been given the option of camping at the site, or a refund.

The 32-kilometre Rakiura Track is a Great Walk and typically takes three days. It has been particularly busy this summer as Kiwis explored their own backyard while the Covid-19 border restrictions have been in place

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DOC hut with the 'toughest bed bugs known to mankind' to close for refit -

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