Away from the 70 odd bookable huts on great walks etc - we have another 520 or so huts on our land where DoC expects payment via hut tickets or hut passes and 370 for which no fee is charged. Is the system working?
"With cellphone coverage as it is in the bush that wont work. " I was thinking more of arranging and updating the pass before you leave, for however long you want it to be valid, then just hanging onto your phone to show someone the pass via the App if they demand it. It has impracticalities, but that may be the way with any system.
I don't know about electronic tickets, but with the hut pass, we keep them in our packs until we need to present them. As far as hut book entries go, we just write 'annual hut pass' so that nobody else swipes the validation code. Still comes down to being challenged & being punished if you're free-loading instead of paying. Otherwise, make 'em free and pop on an eco-tax to make up the funding difference ?. Then it becomes a choice of 'user pays' or 'collective cost' funding. Haven't we been thru this before ?. ps - the electronic ticket. Wouldn't you just need a validation code that relates to something registered on a DoC database ?. Again, remote communication could be an issue unless it's all vetted thru satellite phone or radio in the evening when bed space is settled ?.
Don't think there's much risk of anyone swiping you hut ticket number. The numbers are sequential, so I'd just go for a few before or a few after if I wanted to lie, rather than steal one already in the book. But what would be the benefit of that? If challenged, i could not present a pass - so it would gain me nothing. And if not challenged, then what do I benefit by putting a number down at all? My understanding from looking at books that have been checked off, is that when ticking off those that have paid, pass numbers and tickets in the bin are all that get marked as valid. so 'annual hut pass' and 'will pay at DOC office' and all the other common doubtful entries go down as a 'not paid'. For the record, I buy annual passes for all my tramping, because I believe it is right. I have never, in 14 years and probably 700+ hut nights, been asked for a pass or ticket.
How much of the money actually collected from hut fees is from people who are scared they're going to be caught out? How much money does Permolat currently get given in donations to support remote huts and tracks? Recognising that we already have two hut systems - (the booked great walk wardened pay heaps system and the real huts that this discussion is about) - and remembering what a tiny amount per user hut night is being collected on the real huts, mostly from people who buy passes because they want to, and the collection costs of the present system (I wonder if the collection costs over the last 20 years are greater than the amount spent on roof paint?)... How about a move away from the huts as a commercial commodity, what if the real huts are not charged for on a per night basis and nobody in the hills gets to be a hut ticket natzi. Everybody is encouraged to contribute to backcountry facilities by purchasing a 'hut pass' which is readily available and dated. Every pass has a unique Id and having purchased one you can go on line and choose which facilities you'd like your pass proceeds to go to. Anonymously or otherwise. There are different ways to make things work.
Hugh. It could be said that is precisely what we have. Money is allocated based on visitor numbers. People vote litterally with their feet. As always with democracy though, that means that minoritirs lose out. The real unique gems, visited by and known only to a few, are those that miss out to the popular / famous honeypots that everyone vites for / walks to. With you on the point re collection / sale costs of individual tickets tho. Passes or nothing makes more financial sense
"ps - the electronic ticket. Wouldn't you just need a validation code that relates to something registered on a DoC database ?" I'm not sure if this is leading anywhere useful, but one of the issues would be with identity. The validation code would need to somehow be matched to you, because otherwise you could just give the same code to your 10 friends, all visiting different huts on the same weekend. This is not an impossible thing when there's no connectivity with the outside world, but it might be more trouble than it's worth. For example, using cryptographic techniques, a DOC website could take your name, associate it with the valid start and end dates for the pass, then digtally sign that information and print it alongside in the form of a lengthy number, or a barcode. Thanks to what's possible with cryptography, only DOC has the secret data to be able to generate a barcode that can be validated against that information. THEN, anyone with the right tool, which could easily be a free app on a phone, could scan the barcode and validate that it matches the name and dates described on the pass, and it won't need any connectivity to do that. Still, the only thing this really verifies is that the paper you're holding documents that a specific named person owns a hut pass that's valid between two dates. It could be duplicated. Unlike a present-day hut pass which gets written on and laminated by DOC in a way that makes it mildly inconvenient to forge, this electronic one might have been printed 50 times. So THEN you'd need some other proof of identity, like a driver's licence or passport, to prove that you're actually that person. Like I said, it might be more trouble than it's worth. :) Why might it be useful, though? Because it means that you don't have to go to a DOC office to buy a pass, whether it's for 12 months or for 2 days. That's the biggest reason I can think of, at least, and maybe it's useful if there's a major increase in people wanting hut passes if they can no longer buy tickets. You can fire up the website, type your name, state the period of time it needs to be valid, pay your money, and it'll give you a PDF which you can print off as your hut pass, and re-print it if the first one gets damaged.... or simply show to DOC officers and other people from your iPad if that's how you like to roll. Maybe DOC lets you throw in extras, like pay more and have a pass that's approved for use in 'serviced' huts. Or maybe we just say that everyone who wants to use huts at all needs to buy at least a 6 month laminated hut pass from a DOC office, and stop letting people buy transferrable tickets. The once-a-year groups of people won't like that much. :)
just make buying a hut pass a voluntary donation - rather like it is now in practice. You'll get more money than we do now.
or you could do the unthinkable, put a combination lock on hut doors, .... pay a fee to get the code... some private huts do it. yeah i know huts are supposed to be available for emergency use, you could have a foyer thats unlocked before the main locked area in bigger huts and leave the small huts unlocked. tourist no's from overseas continue to rise steadily, i think the problem with people using huts for free will go up... word of mouth among back packers tells them about ripping off the hut system, if you're short on money, it will factor in some peoples plans to stay in huts for free. or maybe doc could a ticket with a pin that people have to display on them so its blatantly obvious who isnt paying and the potential shame puts people off freeloading, other people can easily challenge the ones without tickets, it would put more people off freeloading..
I'd love someone (else!) to do a FOI request to find out: a) The total proceeds from hut passes and tickets, and b) the total spent on backcountry huts and backcountry tracks. My suspiscion is that b>>>>a (i.e. much greater than!). In which case I'd supports scrapping the paymenst system entirely. I assume that it generates very little income, has a relatively high cost in terms of staff time to sell / verify tickets, adds another impediment to 'getting more people out there to see the bush and start valuing it', has a cost to the user in additional travel and additional time to buy tickets that exceeds the cost of the ticket itself, and generates a drop in the ocean in comparison to what the network costs. But - that's totally unsupported by fact unless we actually have some figures to verify it against. Maybe I'll have to man up and learn how to do an FOI ... Or maybe I'll just wimp out and just go to work and cut down some weeds ...
"or you could do the unthinkable, put a combination lock on hut doors, .... pay a fee to get the code... some private huts do it" Unfortunately this already is the case with at least one DoC hut - Peach Cove at Whangarei Heads. You have to find the DoC working office hidden down by the railway yards, not the Main DoC office in town, to pay and get the number. Particularly poignant for me as I helped build the hut back in the mid- 60s! Carried 2 concrete foundation blocks at a time over the ridge and down to the hut (no steps all the way down then). Good old Mountain Mule pack frames could handle that - would be tricky with a modern one. Then we got a small barge and floated all the other building materials around to the beach by the hut. Why did we not do that with the foundation blocks? Good question! lol
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