Efforts to protect summer palace of King Kamehameha III

HONOLULU (KHON2) — It’s a destination many have risked breaking the law to walk through. Now officials have made it available to legally take a tour of King Kamehameha III’s summer palace without ever leaving your home.

Kaniakapupu is closed to the public with the exception of Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners or permitted caretakers.

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Nevertheless, visitors trespass on the site, ignoring signs that inform hikers of the closure.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said numerous travel blogs promote the site as a fun day hike. Photographers have documented themselves breaking the law and standing on the nearly 200-year-old ruins. Some have even posted photos inside the bedroom window of King Kamehameha III.

“In the past, we’ve tried to protect Kaniakapupu by not putting information about it online, thinking that anything we post will just make people more inclined to go there,” said Ryan Keala Ishima Peralta, a DLNR forest protection supervisor. “That hasn’t worked, as the misinformation is already online with directions and photos.”

With a mission to counter online misinformation, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife created a new virtual tour of the site. This will give the public a chance to learn about the site in a manner that is safe, legal and respectful.

“We now want to protect Kaniakapūpū by having our information front and center,” Peralta explained. “We’d like people to learn about this site and the first thing we want them to learn online is why it is closed, and why it deserves protection and respect.”

Combined with audio collected at the site, the tour also utilizes a series of navigable 360-degree images. It features historical photos and local experts provide an oral history of the site.

The website with the tour provides a shareable social media badge that proclaims “I helped protect Kaniakapupu by going virtual.”

People can find up to $10,000 for damage to the site.

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Click here to view the tour of the summer palace of King Kamehameha III.

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