we need to have realistic discussions on where we are at with tramping infrastrucure and where its going or not going, stopping talking about issues when they are still there isnt going to make things better, you dont have to read what i write, it's your choice.
theres no infrastructure in NZ to build more walks, DOC are closing down more mileage of tracks than they are building... putting most of their resources into a few kilometres of tracks for tourists and shutting down as many of the least used tracks as they can because they dont have the resources to maintain them because the great walks and day walks are sucking everything up.
gone are the days where you had a couple of guys from the forestry service doing basic track clearing over hundreds of kilometres of tracks.
so many tracks i used to do arent there anymore. but most people want to walk on tracks and dont have the skills to navigate off tracks.. and the no's of trampers from overseas keeps going up, the no's of nz trampers is stagnant or dropping,
so things are getting more crowded.
my partner insists on sleeping in huts, doesnt like the longer harder tracks and doesnt like crowds, every summer it gets harder to find tracks that fit the bill because of the way things are changing.
i used to publish photos online and tag them with the location, one the more popular tracks i got up to a hundred thousand views... over the years interest has spread onto more of the tracks that i'd posted. a fair proportion of the world wants to come and walk on our tracks,
its a very different experience now to what it used to be. yes we want tourists but lets not get over run by them on the tracks like so many other countries.
personally i don't share all that i could about my knowledge of tracks, i see people doing that online and more and more tracks get busier o the level i and a lot of other trampers arent happier with,, should i have to go bush bashing or travel a lot further to get to the places that arent over run with people all the time? you cant turn back the clock but you can do something effective about managing the situation and that isnt being done.
i accept overcrowding is part of tramping, i've spent plenty of nights in overcrowded huts, and i still do that, but it used to be far less frequently than it is now, i dont see where its going to end, it keeps getting worse and just being silent on the issue isnt going to help at all either, if you dont like what you are reading, DON"T READ IT, no one is forcing you, you have a choice to read it or leave it, if you like overcrowding, good on you, some of us don't... we've lost a lot of what we had, some of us want it back, thats the way we are. should we turn NZ into the same as the camino de santiago? and other busy trails in the developed world?
This post has been edited by the author on 9 June 2018 at 06:56.
In a way saying if you don't like what your reading don't read it can be applied to over crowded huts. If you don't like them don't stay in them. I don't think we have a problem. We just have a problem with a couple dozen huts which are on great walks or in very popular spots.
I have only shared a hut maybe half a dozen times in the last fifty huts I have stayed the night in . Nearly every tramp I have ever done I have only met a few people along the way and usually on a few hours into the tramp. Because I choose to do tramps where I won't see anyone.
The great walks are here to stay. Pinnacle hut, Powell hut etc are going to be busy. It doesn't bother me or effect me too much.
I think more people should help the volunteer groups who are looking after low use huts and maintaining tracks. I think the less doc have to do with these places the better.
What I would like doc to spend more time and effort on if I'm am to criticise is conservation of our forests, beaches, rivers and fauna. If we could get the great walks to a stage where they pay for themselves, and make a profit which goes back into maintaining, protecting and regenerating our flora and fauna. Yay.
Triple the price of the great walks, make it cheaper for kiwi families to experience. This is not bashing foreiners at all, it's helping us share the outdoors with the rangitahi of our country to help develop a love that will hopefully make them want to put in the effort when they are older. It's not about foreigners it's about making a profit on a popular business structure.
The great walks are a business and I would like to see them run smart and simply to make a profit. That profit should be used to protect our conservation estate. It's the simple for me.
The infrastucture issues don't bother me, those are issues the people running these places need to sort out. Huge fines are a start. Banning toilet paper is another, use the toilet paper in the supplied toilets or shit yourself. Yes people will flout rules but you have to try. But these are small issues.
I've reluctantly done two great walks and kind of enjoyed the experience. One thing I didn't notice was shit everywhere and obnoxious foreigners. In fact I still remember the one family we met where I couldn't stand the mother and we actually did a massive day to avoid staying with them another night and they were from Taupo .
This post has been edited by the author on 9 June 2018 at 08:30.
@gaiters "I have only shared a hut maybe half a dozen times in the last fifty huts I have stayed the night in"
Ditto here. they don't effect me, except when I have to use huts on the TA in south island. then its because of retreating from camping due to weather
Why anyone who likes the remoteness and solitude of the backcountry head to the great walks is beyond me. Theres plenty of other trips that are just as good.
Can understand newcomers doing GWs, theyre relatively safe.
But perhaps the more trampers that use the great walks, the less I will see elsewhere. Pity hunters didn't go there to :)
OK so the days of heading off into the the NZ backcountry and having entire mountain ranges and valleys to yourself are in our past and not coming back anytime soon. Inevitably the more accessible and popular areas are going to have more people, and there is where the problems will manifest first. While it is true there will always be remoter areas that will likely be relatively untrammeled for some decades to come, over a life-time the progressive impact of marketing our wilderness is plain to see. Even places we now regard as safe, will inevitably change if we do nothing.
Some of my first tramps out of Auckland were in the late 60's from Auckland down to TNP during the May school holidays. The first trip in 1968 we spent the entire two weeks in the park, just the two of us, and on one night we had company in one hut. (Whakapapa ... and that has another interesting tale to it as well.) Yet within a decade the same huts were so busy at the same time of year you had to arrive early in the day to get a bunk.
Apart from the nostalgia of it all, there is no question the experience has changed. In many respects for the better; vastly improved equipment, much more information to plan trips with, and a broader range of experiences. Tramping in club groups is no longer primary option for most people; there are so many other diverse ways to experience wilderness nowadays.
But in other respects I mourn the losses along the way too. By the late 1970's I was spending time in Fiordland; I recall weeks and months alone in the area that is now the Kepler Track. I am incredibly grateful I got to experience these places raw, pristine and lonely. Some decades later I did the Kepler with a friend and it was a wholly different experience.
There is something paradoxical about humans, sometimes our mere presence diminishes that which we value most. I have a memory of sitting on a peak at the end of the Dark Cloud Range, knowing I was literally the only human within many days walk, quite alone and vulnerable, looking out at a sunset and a storm rolling in. It chills me as I type this; my minds eye replays it vividly.
The older I get the more I see all the tramps I've done as a sort of interrupted, erratic pilgrimage, a long extended journey towards understanding myself. And each of us is at a different point along that path; once we too were novices, shallow and unthinking in our attitudes and actions. But now witnessing the places that have taught us to love and treasure them being disrespected and trashed is distressing. It hurts; we feel pain, anger and frustration with our fellow pilgrim's inability to see the harm they are causing.
Absolutely we must speak up courageously, carefully and accurately about the progressive pressures each decade is imposing on the wilderness we treasure. It's vital we define the problem and determine to act wisely. In large part this is the duty of each generation, to teach by word and example, something of the lessons we gathered along the path.
This post has been edited by the author on 9 June 2018 at 22:13.
In furious agreement with the previous 3 posts.
It's not a new idea that tourism has to be managed - eco-tourism even more so.
Early on, small numbers are good for the local economy - worth encouraging. Increasing numbers; even better, although some negative impacts begin to be seen. Allocate some expenditure to repair, limit, control the adverse impacts and continue to encourage the flow of revenue. Numbers continue to increase and impacts grow. Some locals begin to push back but the world now knows of the resource and wants a part of it. Negative impact is now large and lasting.
Eventually, the world moves on (often very suddenly) and the local economy crashes - leaving the locals with the now longterm impacts.
What's difficult is the management itself - deciding what's acceptable and what's not, implementing, evaluating and modifying the plan. Not my area of expertise but obviously a very tricky job.
or you do what Bhutan did, make people prebook holidays through approved agencies that cost at least US$200 a day, ensure that the tourists who come are spending money and the rest dont get a look in,
get rid of all the cheap backpackers, freedom campers, hitch hikers... and those looking to avoid paying as much as they can..
we cant keep letting in as many tourists as we can cram into the country, the only limitation at present is the no of seats on flights here and that keeps going up. auckland airport is expanding to a second runway in the coming years, the international terminal is adding several new terminals, more flights will keep bringing in an ever expanding no of tourists, and a certain percentage will be freeloaders and have no etiquette in the bush....
Wayne makes a great point about volume of use and pressure on resources and the implication on DoC time and funding for infrastructure and maintenance, let alone fulfilling their core role (i.e. CONSERVATION). There are a few solutions I can think of. A border levy specifically for conservation. Increased charges for Great Walks and making more high use huts require bookings (e.g. Blue Lake). A specific pass to do Te Araroa, similar to the Pacific Trail. Licenses specifically for recreational whitebaiting. Hell, set up toll booths at the Homer Tunnel!
What purely financial solutions do not address is the lack of staffing in DoC and their inability to do what we want them to do, due to years and years of underfunding and overdemanding. DoC have to rely on Permolat etc because they simply cannot maintain our back country networks any longer. To some extent I’m ok with volunteers having an entrenched role - our most remote huts and routes, which are rarely used by anyone other than hard-core enthusiasts, should have some responsibility by those same users to maintain them over and above just not mistreating them and being respectful of the environment.
However if DoC are going to conserve more they will need to have more presence in the field (e.g. trapping stoats in a number of areas to meet the predator-free NZ goal, monitoring remote areas to check on possum and mice numbers) and so putting resources into maintaining a network that is broader than currently but narrower than ‘every hut and track ever’ should be considered, imho.
This won’t happen without a government that is willing to increase resourcing and staffing across the board, review policy and legislation with a strong environmental focus, and which is willing to potentially ostracise some tourists and sectors of the economy to meet these goals. It’s unlikely any party will do this fully however media attention and pressure is likely to assist with creating an appetite to do this. So bring on big stories about split funding, or photos of feces on the Tongariro Crossing, but let’s add some about decaying huts, bird life being decimated, and a factual debate about tourism and farming impacts.
the milfrod track was one of the first tracks to get booked out, over the years people who couldnt get onto the milford then started moving onto surrounding tracks,
over the years various surrounding tracks packed out over summer, and then further into spring and autumn then people started packing out the tracks around those tracks, every year gets worse, more people on more tracks,
so your tracks arent that busy now, theres nothing to say they will stay that way,
its hard to predict which tracks will go viral next...
it just needs someone or a webpage that has a wide following on the internet to post photos a video or story about a particular unspoilt track,, and then the people start to flock to it
some places that never used to get coverage are getting coverage,
an article about iron lake hut was posted on a website with hundreds of thousands of followers, thats not a place you want novice trampers to go.
i'm seeing more posts online by foreign bloggers followed by thousands about the tararuas.
theres a steady creep of people saturating greater areas of the outdoors.