Basics for visitors (and any new tramper)
a new article over on the left attempts to outline the basics for anyone new to tramping (New Zealand backcountry hiking). I started with Mathew's basics and added material while trying very hard to keep it short and readable. Any constructive criticism or suggestions are welcomed. Perhaps a linked article for each topic would be a good idea?
Considering the attention span of younger generations seem to be diminishing this is a sound and succinct introduction. Not easy to cover the essentials on one page, well written. Linking to further resources is a great idea.
Put the whole lot in a smartphone game and they will read the lot many times. Imagine a pacman having to remember to use a good stick to cross a river.
Somewhere in the section on huts it would be good to add a strong hint about how users should take care to leave the hut clean, tidy, door shut and the place secure. And if possible replace any firewood used. And that while a Backcountry Hut Pass contributes towards the basic provisioning and maintenance of the hut - it is the local community who have a tradition of looking after them as best we can - and we'll love you for doing your bit too!
@PhilipW Want to have a go at writing a one pager just on huts? I'll add a link straight to it.
For overseas visitors to the kiwi backcountry, our hut system is perhaps the most visible aspect of the local tramping and hunting culture. Almost all huts are unlocked and are there to provide shelter for any genuine people who need to stay. But some of our huts are getting very well used indeed, sometimes too much. This is a guide to understanding and using them so as you will be a welcome guest. There are about 900 or more huts, ranging from tiny 2 person ‘dogbox’ bivvies’ which you can only just sit up in, to massive 80 or more bunk facilities you will find on the Great Walk system. However most are modest 4 – 6 bunkers of a very basic – but well liked design – that date from the period when they were built by a government body for animal and pest control work. These are called “Forest Service Six Bunkers”. They may look plain, their beds are hard, their fireplace and bench utilitarian – but this does not mean they are ordinary to us. Others were originally built by local alpine, tramping or hunting clubs, who usually to this day continue to maintain them for the sheer love of it. And there are a scattering of even older huts built for all manner of purposes – to a diversity of sometimes quirky designs. Most are now legally administered by the Department of Conservation (DoC) who inherited ownership of them when all the various Parks, Forests and Reserves were brought together about 30 years ago. Each hut has something of a story to tell about who built it and why. But they all have two things in common. There is a local community who treasure them and who works in partnership with DoC to manage them; and they are open for you to stay in as our guests. If you are in one of our huts on a cold, wet night we hope that you too experience something of the enveloping, embracing shelter from the storm which so endears these modest, humble places to us. Except for the huts on the Great Walks – there is no booking system. You are expected make welcome anyone else who arrives and share with them. Often you may have the hut all to yourselves, but it’s not unusual to find 20 or more people crammed into a six bunk hut. It’s a squeeze alright, but it is also an experience worth making the most of. For a start all the bunks beds will top and toe. Then you can easily fit another 6 – 8 on the floor. If there is a porch – another group of 6 – 10 might fit out there on a not too wet night. Or after getting dry and cooking a meal, another group might camp out nearby for the night. This is why it’s a good idea to carry some form of lightweight shelter in the event the hut is a little too crowded that night. The important rules are courtesy, respect and cooperation. Oh and it’s a good idea to have your Back Country Hut Pass ticket visible on the outside of your pack. It shows that you aren’t a freeloader – and the locals will appreciate you playing by the rules. Making an entry into the Hut Book is part of the culture too. Apart from being very helpful to the Search and Rescue (SAR) people if they do need to come looking for you – the Hut Book is an important tramping tradition. Many people read back over the old entries, looking for mates, unusual weather or changes to the tracks and tales of epic misadventures. In a busy hut you’ll want to be organised with your gear and cooking. There’s a lot going on in a small space and consideration for others will make you welcome. Don’t be shy of talking to people. There is every chance to strike up a warm and interesting conversation, play cards, stargaze, read a book, write up your journal or just lie there quietly people watching, enjoying a social moment most of us rarely experience in this modern world. Keep wet boots and gear outside. Most kiwi trampers carry light pair of ‘hut sandals’ that are easy to slip on and off. Earplugs are a great idea, not only for the inevitable snorers, but the rustlings of tossers and turners, the midnight snackers and toilet trotters. Or the wind-driven rain rattling in the roof and crashing in the trees. Turning on your 10,000 Lumen, drop possums at 200m LED torch, in the middle of the night is considered very anti-social. Get one with a nice dim red setting that you can get to with one push on the switch. Leaving is your last and best moment to respect the hut and give something back. Your hut wants to be clean and tidy – ready for the next group coming to visit. Put the hut book back in its place, clean up the bench and fireplace, sweep out the floor. Prop up the bunk mattresses to let air circulate around them. If you used up a lot of dry firewood it’s going to need replacing. It’s not the ‘wood fairies’ who do it! One last check for left behind oddments – secure the door behind you – and off.
Brilliant. Not many people could say it so well in 10 times as many words. can we copy and paste it over to an article add illustrations and link to it from the intro article? Possible added paragraphs - fireplaces woodstoves heating cooking and firewood coal; gas liquid fuel cooking stoves and refilling replacing cannisters; rubbish; long drops; water supplies; drying clothes; ...
Excellent. Only suggested changes i'd have: In popular areas, check with DOC if huts require booking. Increasing numbers of busy huts are being added to the booking system each year. Hut books: Funding for maintenance of huts and tracks depends on visitor numbers recorded in hut books. Adding your details in the hut book not only helps SAR ... but also ensures funding for your hut/track will continue.
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