DOC Marker Definitions
It has come to attention recently with quite a number people being lost in the bush with the main reason that they were following the wrong type of triangle marker. As a person who goes tramping quite a bit, I thought that I would explain the different types of triangle markers that you see in the bush. Orange (and possibly a white strip if following an old low use track/route): This is a track marker, this is what you should be following to keep to the track. Generally these will be placed about 30m apart and normally you should be able to see the next one in front (unless the track is clearly defined, such as a track of a great walk standard). Sometimes if going through a large clearing there would be a marker as you exit and one as you enter, which also the same if crossing a river. Tracks can also be marked by cairns or poles above the bush line and alpine areas. Pink/Yellow/Blue: This is not a track marker, don't be confused. These indicate trap/bait lines or actual traps for pest control such as possums & stoats. In a number of cases there will be written information which generally identifies the trap/bait line and a number to identify trap/bait number (sometimes this can also indicate distance from start of the line). Sometimes these lines can follow the track which normally indicate that the trap if just off to the side of the track.
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When on a track, I rather follow the markers then a map.
I thought the difference between marker types well worth pointing out. I think most people use the orange track markers as their primary point of reference, especially where windfall, slips, flood damage or tricky terrain have made the footpad less than clear. In my experience it's usually pretty obvious when you've veered off track because the nature of the footpad changes. Essentially tracks are linear things, virtually everyone who starts at one end, will traverse the whole thing to the other. This means in general, that for a given level of track maintenance or development, and type of terrain (ie nice river terrace, knarly stream bed, ridgeline, below/above bushline) the footpad should be fairly similar the whole way through. If suddenly I find it's gotten a whole lot less distinct then pretty much straight away I know that I'm either off track, or something has changed that I need to pay attention to. The most frequent cause of real problems is when a misleading corner, trapline markers or the like, lead so many people astray that a wrong footpad becomes very well worn and is hard to distinguish from the correct track. In some cases these wrong leads can go for many hundreds of metres before they peter out, usually leaving you a bit confused and disorientated. People who do have good reason to put in trapline/sampling/non-track markers should take good care to ensure their first marker is NOT visible from the main track. And ensure that a visible footpad doesn't develop along the first 20m or so.
Certainly a lot of different track markers out there so compiling an accurate list of what to follow or not would be challenging. A recent trip in the Ruahines I had orange triangles, permalot in red, white, pink and yellow (don't think I've seen pink and yellow before) and old can lids all on the same track. Plus tape, cairns and poles on other sections of the trip. I see blazes and chopped up beer can haven't been mentioned as markers yet!
@Dodgydave I was really talking about the official track markers instantiated by DOC. Its only logic that if you go into the wilderness and only know about the DOC markers and then come across some other unknow marker then it would only be logical to look at your map or gps to figure it out - and if you dont know how to read a map with a compass or even a gps then you shouldnt be out there in the first place
Depends how far back you go I guess. A lot of those markers were installed officially by DOC (or their various predecessors).
Yeah your right, im 26 so throughout my tramping history iv only know the orange pink and blue by DOC and have seen a few red tin and white bucket lids on trees which I suppose is by forestry organisitions such as deer stalkers etc...
Venitian blinds were another common route marker in many place, they are still plentiful in the tararua with the odd tin lid.
venition blind are known as permalot
Occasionally there is non-permolat venetian blind used. We found a stash and took it home one time. Frank and I use a combination of red/white permolats sometimes. They are extremely visible. Frank put in a very good line of them on the Salmon Ck track and DoC ripped them off and threw them away, did a crappy job of putting orange triangles on dead, dying trees or fast growing saplings then told us we could resume responsibility for looking after the track we had saved and recut - thanks, DoC.
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