DOC hut with the ‘hardest mattress bugs recognized to mankind’ to shut for refit


For weeks, hitchhikers have had problems “sleeping soundly” in a DOC hut on Stewart Island / Rakiura thanks to the infestation of the “toughest bed bugs known to man”, but the days of unwanted guests can finally be numbered.

Complaints about the North Arm Hut on the Rakiura Track began in February, but despite five treatments at the 24-berth Great Walk hut to clear out the egg-laying intruders, the animals have continued to make a noticeable difference.

DOC has decided to close the hut for more than a week from May 25th to June 3rd for a full overhaul.

Ren Leppens, DOC Rakiura operations manager, said the problem had left Ranger scratching his head.

In the North Arm hat.

Eleanor Hughes

In the North Arm hat.

* A great walk on Stewart Island / Rakiura
* Stewart Island visitor disappointed to visit a bed bug infested DOC cabin on the Rakiura Track
* DOC urges respect for the environment as travel expenses in New Zealand rise

The North Arm Hut has 24 bunks.


The North Arm Hut has 24 bunks.

“Either these are the toughest bed bugs known to man, or they hang on people’s equipment in other places,” said Leppens.

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

“Bed bugs are usually not a problem on the island. They are master hitchhikers and with the huge increase in visitors to the island this year, it would be impossible to trace the source of the infestation. “

Scratching a bite off a bed bug can lead to infection.  (File photo)


Scratching a bite off a bed bug can lead to infection. (File photo)

The beetles feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals, hide in dry, dark places during the day and an infestation would have to be treated with pesticides.

“Over Easter we received a few reports about bed bugs that somehow missed the eviction notice. We think that they are probably only latecomers and not a new infestation, but we have treated the hut again as a precaution, ”said Leppens.

In March one of the hitchhikers on the Great Walk complained to Stuff about his stay in the cabin.

Dave, who didn’t want his last name used, said practically every bed in the North Arm Hut was full, but he couldn’t sleep well because his co-workers stamped and crawled to shake the animals off.

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

The people who chose to sleep in the kitchen instead of the bed bug beds slept outside.

DOC has posted a warning for the North Arm Hut on its website.

“Cabins on the Rakiura Great Walk were treated for bed bugs. DOC will continue to do everything possible to correct the problem. There will sometimes be disruptions as we maintain buildings and carry out further treatments.

“Take all precautions by checking equipment to make sure bed bugs are not getting in or out of cabins and other accommodations.”

Leppens said no one was to blame for living things.

“Bed bugs are like any other pest – nobody wants them, and nobody intentionally transports them from place to place, and they don’t reflect the hygiene or cleanliness of the house, hut or equipment they live in.

“We’re working with hikers to see how they can be part of the solution. This means thoroughly checking and cleaning all equipment before heading out to new locations, and especially ventilating sleeping bags in bright sunlight. “

The hitchhikers who were booked at the time of the upgrade were contacted and given the option to camp on the premises or receive a refund.

The 32-kilometer Rakiura Track is a great walk and usually takes three days to complete. It was especially busy this summer when kiwis explored their own backyard while the border restrictions on Covid-19 were in place