Wasting DoC's limited funds
This thread branched from "Hut Fees" on . Explore the branch.
"safety rails on upper bunks" ---- I was at a hut recently where someone had gone to the trouble of pulling the bunks out and turning them around so the 'safety rails' were against the wall. Looked to me as though the rails would have been a real hindrance to getting in or out of the top bunks. Never use top bunks myself as too old to be clambering up there! In general I think DOC does a great job but sometimes I just shake my head in amazement at some of the things (like top bunk rails*) they spend their money on. Sorry I should have said 'they spend OUR money on'! *Also 1 metre high deck rails around toilet platforms which are about 30 cms above the ground!
I was on the routeburn recently, I've been there before over the years. this time round they've done a massive amount of work, industrial strength bridges that will easily take large no's of people on them at once going both directions. the had endless helicopter loads of aggregate put on the track to fill in the gaps between the rocks on the track and smooth it out. and put a lot of stairs in in the rougher steeper sections. widening the track at the narrower hilly sections. they upgraded the climb to the falls hut greatly improving the quality of the track, they put in a palace of a shelter at the flats hut including with a bar and bar stools to sit on and a Perspex ceiling..... so much resources thrown into a thirty k track. looks like they may have put the bigger brides in so they can get a mini diggier bobcat along the track a fair way up to the falls hut from the routeburn rd end. , because that's what it looks like has been at work on the track. done some serious work excavating rock to widen the track in places. remember Ultimate hikes are part funding the routeburn through the concession fees they pay DOC
remember that the people who pay for the guiding service and the company's profit, then pay an added component to cover the concession fee charged by doc. What does the company pay? Managing commercial activity on the commons (our conservation lands) has not been well thought out.
well DOC collect the money from Ultimate hikes, but yes Ultimate hikes will recover that money from their clients in their fees.. DOC are in a difficult situation, practice conservation and try and finance their operation commercially that the govt won't fully fund any more.. ultimate hikes are touted to be setting up shop on the kepler with overnight huts there as well. the kepler track is already at a high standard, I wouldn't expect much ugrading going on there.
separating development from maintenance - User pays? - any development of a facility should be paid for by the intended users. So for the Routeburn where its the commercial clients that 'need' individual bedrooms (with on suite?) a gravel footpath, industrial standard bridges and toilets every hour it should be the company that pays for it, every dollar (and recovers their costs in time from their clients). For lodges - there is a clear case of lost opportunity that should be recompensed to the landowners (us) who also value experiencing the location without a large building and its occupants, and the helicopter time etc. The operator then gets to say who uses the facility and how much they pay. The company would also pay a percentage of their profits, note profits, back to the landowners whose resources are being exploited. The company could also be expected to pay for the cost of the lost opportunities to the public that developing the track causes. But once in place on public land the gravel path will also be used by the public (if they choose to go to that valley) and its not completely unreasonable that the public would pay a contribution towards their share of wear and tear. So for tracks (and access roads!) that are shared without charge call that quits, ensure the company cannot restrict access and be very careful of where development is allowed in the first place. When anyone (including elements of doc) wants to develop a track/hut system they are all subject to the above and can consider more realistic costs, what they will have to charge their 'clients' to achieve what ever they consider a realistic return and wether its commercially viable. Any group is of course entitled to minimise their opportunity cost by not restricting any one else's rights and also aiming for zero profit, and even subsidising the users if they have the funds. (small hut, low fees, for the public good?) The biggest differences to the present system would be two fold. Recognising and paying for the lost opportunity costs is getting future clients to pay for what their choice of use is costing the owners and other future users, costs that are currently borne by the land owners; and recovering a fair percentage of the companies profits (50%?), recognises that they are exploiting a valued public resource. And hopefully commercially driven development will be more carefully considered.
tracks like the routeburn are complicated by the massive no of day walkers in the warmer months at either end of the track as well... no money earned from them unless they are part of a guided group that holds a concession..
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