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?
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Hmm. Hugh / Phillips comments on huts etiquette intrigue me. I have, on maybe half a dozen occasions arrived to find the hut full. In this situation I have always pitched a tent to sleep in (or slept outside on the deck). I would have considered myself very rude to have done otherwise. This is the principal of 'first come, first served' - one I wholly endorse. Now, if there'd been a southerly gale coming in, or torrential rain, I'd have been comfortable to impose and 'squeeze one more in' on the hut floor, but in normal conditions I would never make this imposition. On 4 occasions, the situation has been reversed - other parties have arrived after me, resulting in an overflowing hut. Two have opted to camp, but two others (both tramping clubs with plans already to squeeze 6 into a 4 bunk hut) have opted to cram em all in plus me. On both occasions I have cheerfully removed myself and pitched my tent - but inside I was seething 'how bloody rude'. How do others feel? Do you share Phillip / Hugh's attitude of 'all come, all served' - a.k.a. 'cram em all in'. Or do you, like me, carry a tent precisely so that you can use it in this situation - and feel that others should do so too when conditions are reasonable?
I, and everyone who I tramp with, believe in first come first served for the huts, and if there is not enough space left for us to fit in comfortably then we will either ask permission from the other groups to crash on the floor or, more usually, sleep outside. We always take some form of alternate shelter in case the hut is full, as it is just rude to try and squeeze in, although people will fairly often do their best to accomodate. In general we would only ask to, or try to squeeze in, if it looks like the weather is properly going to go south with nasty wind, hard rain etc
I carry a fly and will often use it, or go on the balcony if there's space, but I tend to figure that huts are the property of everyone. If people can fit, bed or not, then I don't mind them fitting, as long as everyone makes a polite effort to respect everyone else under the circumstances. It's just part of hut life that sometimes you might be crammed in with many others. Otherwise camp. Some huts have screeds of space beyond the bunks, whereas others have very little, and imho it's often a subjective call as to whether it's 'acceptable' to push more in. Certainly if you're going somewhere with a significant sized group, and turn up late, it's polite to offer to go outside if there's obviously limited space. But I never assume it. I think the thing I dislike, though, is when people show up to huts without an ability to sleep outside, placing an obligation on others to do that on unequal terms simply so they can fit. I've been in a 6 bunk hut before when another tramping club turned up with 8. I didn't mind that many of them crammed in on the floor and stuff, but aside from a two person tent (which was pitched outside) they hadn't even carried enough shelter for their whole group! (We offered them use of our flies, but they declined.) I gather the person who organised their trip had some bad feedback after that experience for them, though.
Oh of course, if people are considerate about it, and theres enough spare bunks or floor space etc then I have no issue with them coming in. But if you are the last group to turn up etc, and its pretty cramped in the hut its polite to camp outside, or if you do wish to pack in, definitely ask those already in there if they mind at all. Its only polite. I would never go to a hut, unless it was bookable, without an alternate shelter in case the hut was full. Certainly a big part of tramping is based on interaction with people, and common politeness and courtesy etc
What people are describing is what has been the norm since the first huts were built, being first at a hut doesn't mean you have the right to refuse latecomers and coming later doesn't give you the right to be rude or presumptuous. Courtesy and respect all round - the shelter at the hut is a resource to be shared with all comers - but the first people will get first pick of the mattresses, and everybody especially large organised groups should have the gear to cope with outside if necessary. Its what I meant by all come, all served.
Agreed. Thats how Ive always seen it and viewed it. Just courteous to sleep outside if it is rather packed, or ask if anyone objects to you packing in. MoSt people have no isissue from what Ive found
"On 4 occasions, the situation has been reversed - other parties have arrived after me, resulting in an overflowing hut. Two have opted to camp, but two others (both tramping clubs with plans already to squeeze 6 into a 4 bunk hut) have opted to cram em all in plus me. On both occasions I have cheerfully removed myself and pitched my tent - but inside I was seething 'how bloody rude'. " I understand what you are saying and have on occasion offered to decamp to a fly but the last 3 times do show that other factors can come into play and whatevers best for all on the day is better than a hard fast rule. 1 Cow creek 5 of us in a 6 bunk hut 6pm 3/4 the way through cooking dinner it had been raining outside but not now. A family group of 5 arrives. We offered to be finished with the bench in about 15 minutes but they cooked outside but then came in and we gave them the bunks as we had mats and we sorted the water for breakfast/coffee in the morning. That worked fine. 10 is a push for that hut. 2 Triangle Hut 1 bunk left and a french couple arrived at a reasonable hour but pouring rain. Its always funny watching people tramping in longs taking boots off and rolling up trouser legs for that last river crossing. We were able to organise better with more time and a bigger bench top so happily each able to sort out dinners etc and they were happy to share a bunk (they only had one sleeping bag so would of shared anyway. They were still asleep when we left in the morning but caught us on the trail at lunch time. 3 Mitre flats our turn to arrive late (very late) We knew from the cars in the carpark the hut would be full This was confirmed by the people sleeping on the porch so the flys went up outside and we didnt even go up the steps to the hut till the following afternoon after an attempt at Mitre only to be pushed back by the wind.
Just to clarify - because I have yet to use a hut - if myself and my group have paid for a hut pass for, say, the Waihaha Hut (10 bunks), and we arrive to find there are 14 people in there, are we then required to sleep outside? Or are we within our rights to ask to see their hut pass? If there are some who don't have a pass, would we be within our rights to ask them to pitch a tent outside?
Imo, Part of that situation would be based on goodwill. You would probably want to just assume everyone was doing things on the proper, and had the relevant pass etc. You would not be required to sleep outside, but you would want to chat to those there etc and see if you could fit everyone into the hut, or if that was not possible, see how best to work around that. Id take shelter with you anyway so if it was overcrowded then the option of sleeping outside was there. You could ask to see hut passes, but that would risk stepping on toes a little bit I feel. Mostly at huts you get decent sorts anyway, and I feel that anyone who hadnt booked and had shelter would probably offer to shift. Whatever you were to do, you would want to try to keep on the good side of everyone, and not throw weight around or piss people off. Nothing good comes of having to share a hut/campsite with people you have got off on the wrong foot with. Got a story about our venturer group managing to get on the wrong side of a school group actually. But thats rather offtopic in terms of this thread. As I understand it hut passes and bookings are different beasts, as more people with hut passes can turn up than the hut can hold, whereas if its a booked hut it is limited to a maximum number of bookings. Anyone with more experience, please correct me if I am wrong.
Hello. Hut tickets and passes don't guarantee shelter. Even if you book a hut it's not guaranteed, although DOC would give you a refund under its terms if it's had to close the facility for some reason. It's more a case of that if you use it then you're expected to pay. You should really always have a plan for not being able to stay in a hut, though. Keep in mind that you might roll an ankle before you reach it. No back-country hut is going to stand up and walk to you in the rain. You can ask to see other people's hut tickets or passes, you can try and guilt-trip them if you're feeling assertive, but I don't think they have any legal obligation whatsoever to show you a hut ticket or do anything you try to demand of them. If it's an authorised DOC representative (like a hut warden) then it's different, but hut wardens tend to only frequent the more popular parts of the network. Someone might correct me on this. It really is an honesty system, though. It's not perfect, but having honest people pay while dishonest people don't is the best anyone can come up with for a user pays system which doesn't lock doors to people with emergency situations, and which doesn't result in 9/10 of the cost going towards enforcement. Personally I am not convinced that having an entire hut fee system is worth it, compared with just throwing a little extra money from the budget at them, but not everyone agrees.
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Forum Visiting New Zealand
Started by Hugh vN
On 9 April 2015
Replies 36
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