Hi guys, I've been lurking and reading up on the forum, so happy I found this. I tried to search for some answers, so sorry if these have already been covered. I'm getting back into tramping and backpacking after 30 years. I was in the scouts and even did a trek guide course back in Europe before I joined the army back in Europe. Fast forward 30 years and I found myself in New Zealand which is an amazing country for tramping. We've already done the Abel Tasman tour with lodge accommodation and are doing multiple day tramps as often as we can. We have booked a 3 day Routeburn track with hut accommodation for March. Here's couple of questions: 1. Routeburn track kit list has stove etc listed, yet the huts are listed to have stoves & fuel. Would it make sense still to bring your own stove & canister in case? 2. We just spent the last weekend in Stewart Island doing day tramps while staying in a bach. We'd love to do the Rakiura track, but the huts are booked full so early. I asked at the DOC office if we can do the Rakiura track but stay in a tent and the answer was a bit vague, that we could stay in a tent in a vicinity of the huts. I read in this forum that freedom camping is allowed within 200/500m from Great Walks tracks (if I understood correctly), so tent accommodation would be possible? We don't mind paying for staying, but huts get so booked so early and quickly, we'd rather stay in a tent anyway as the missus only needs to listen to me snore and not a choir. Any feedback / recommendations are appreciated.
the southern great walks like the routeburn, have two seasons the summer and winter seasons the summer season is when you have to book from oct to april... during that season they have stoves with gas supplied in the huts, outside of that season there is no gas supplied , so you bring your own stoves and gas. the fiordland great walks at least you aren't allowed to camp within at least a couple of hundred metres of the track during the booking season and they wont let you camp near the huts... not sure if the rule is the same for stewart islands but they wont let you use the hut facilities during the booked season unless you're just passing through briefly and not using the stoves.
@lempo - at a glance you seem to have got the camping rules back to front. The general rules is that freedom camping is _prohibited_ within either 500m or 1km of great walk tracks. So if you want to camp you either have to book a campsite (on those walks that permit camping) or travel more than 500m (or 1km) from the track before camping. There are significant fines for camping within the exclusion zone around the tracks. That said, I cannot speak for the Rakiura track - there seems to be nothing in the act, the park management plan, the conservation management strategy nor the freedom camping rules mentioning camping restrictions in the Rakiura park or the great walk. Perhaps this is why the answer your received from DOC is vague. Fundamentally though, DOC (and myself too, for that matter) do not wish to encourage people to walk the great walks and freedom camp when huts are full. The limitations on bed numbers on the great walks are being used to cap the number of walkers at what the track and the environment will sustain. This is not merely about beds, it's about damage to the track, damage to the environment, and not ruining the wilderness/backcountry experience that people walk these walks for. If more people sneak in by the back door (freedom camping off-track) then numbers will become unsustainable and everyone will suffer. My personal opinion is: if you want to tramp and camp, there are 1000s of kilometers of good tramping tracks out there with nobody on them where you can camp at will without bothering a soul. So why sneak onto the few where overuse means that DOC are trying to limit numbers and impact?
Just to be clear, there are three managed and bookable campsites on the Rakiura Track: * Maori Beach * Port William * North Arm Two of these are next to the hut. They're just $6 per night. For that, you get toilet, sink, water supply, and cooking shelter. Camping, you're more likely to hear kiwi at night too, which is a bonus!
The North Arm campsite is a couple of minutes' walk away from the hut, up a steep track. Fun watching the poor hunters shuttling all their gear up to it, including big gas canisters. The Port William campsite is shown on Freshmap as being 400m away from Port William hut.
I was a little confused about North Arm campsite. It used to be at Sawdust Bay about 3km from North Arm hut, but I guess DOC have created a new campsite close to the hut.
Thanks for everyone who responded. I'm a regular on many forums and newbie questions can be frustrating. @waynowski thanks, that much I knew. I was wondering that is it worth while still carrying a stove even if we've booked huts to stay in. I guess only if we want to have a hot meal/drink during the day. Any tips how to make the huts co-habitation as painless as possible? The reason why I tramp is to get away from people and into the quiet nature ;) @madpom OK, makes sense. There's probably 2 reason why I thought that. 1. the lady at the DOC office told me that we could potentially camp within 200m of the GW huts. 2. I thought that camping within 200/500m of the track would preserve the bush and keep the tramping activities confined within certain area, but I can understand also why it's NOT allowed to camp within 200/500/1000m of the GW tracks. @Matthew Thanks, that would make an ad hoc trip more possible. Have to do more research. Also bit of a rant. What's the deal with these kids (get off my lawn!) walking the tracks with their music blasting on loudspeakers? I tramp to get away from noise. Can we have a ban on speakers in DOC parks? This also the reason I don't want to do these organised tramps anymore. We did the Abel Tasman one, and it was nice having to sleep in comfy beds and not having to carry much stuff, but initially we were tramping in a group and boy these Americans never shut up. I've nothing against Americans and have many American friends, but in this group it was like they tried to be distracted from walking in the nature. After couple of hours, I told the guide, we'd take off on our own. When me and wife are tramping, we often walk quietly for hours and enjoy the nature. This way we also find the wild life as we can hear it. Rant over, sorry about that.
The great walks are not for people who like to get away from people. That is part of the experience. If you like getting away from people best thing to do is to get yourself fit, experienced and have the right gear then you can dissapear into the real bush this country has to offer. The more you do it the more you learn where the quiet spots are.
if you really want to stay in a hut, take earplugs, but they can still have limited effect... if its bad weather everyone stays inside and its packed teh whole time you're at the hut... routeburn major huts have 50 people in them, one night of that is the most i can tolerate, a second night and it drives me up the wall.. tent is worth it if you want to get away from people, more space to pitch it and fewer people at the campsites usually. or go outside of the main season, the further outside of the warmer months you are the fewer people. but some of the great walks have avalanche risk during part of winter and spring.
@waynowski It's not that I really wanted to stay in huts, but we didn't know what other options were at the time when we booked it months ago, also we didn't have the kit. Over the last few months, we purchased slowly the necessary kit and we're only missing a tent and mats now for go completely 'freedom' camping. It's been a gradual process, but in a way it's been good, as we've been able to focus on getting high quality lightweight kit, since we had to buy pretty much everything.
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