Backcountry hut pass and camping
The terms seem to be pretty clear for huts but can they be used to pay for campsites? If I were to do say, the Hillary trail, would I be able to show my hut pass when I book and avoid the $8 fee? What about other campsites such as those outside serviced huts? And would I still book or do I just rock up and show my hut pass? Also, what are the rules around camping near the sides of tracks? I know there are rules in certain areas such as near the great walks. But what about everywhere else? Could I just decide to stop somewhere in the waitakere ranges, walk 10m off the track and pitch a tent?
Item 12 from the terms and conditions associated with the hut pass states the following; "The terms and conditions of the Hut Pass and/or Hut Ticket, including the list of huts and campsites that are excluded, may be subject to change at any time and without prior notice. It is the responsibility of the holder of the Hut Pass and/or Hut Ticket to check the terms and conditions for any changes." One would assume from the statement that campsites are covered under the hut pass. With the Kauri die back problem you just might find some people will get a bit touchy if you decide to camp off track in the Waitakere's.
For DoC administered land: Any hut/campsite that needs to be booked is not covered by a backcountry pass nor tickets - you need to book and pay. The pass permits use of all huts (and camping nearby) that don't have booking. If using tickets, camping beside a serviced hut costs 1 ticket (3 tickets to sleep in it). Camping beside standard hut is free (1 ticket to sleep in it). Bivs are free. Great Walks aside, you can camp anywhere, within reason. On a busy track isn't within reason. However, the Hillary Trail is Auckland Council, not DoC, so backcountry pass doesn't apply - nor does any of tge above. There is comprehensive information available online http://regionalparks.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/hillary-trail
BTW, considering the work that's been done to create the track, $8 / site seems pretty reasonable to me. Rather than trying to evade the fees, why not pay up ? Better to use the toilets where you can than dig holes.
There is a 'pass' for the Auckland Council controlled camp sites, but you are required to call and register your camp site on the day of use. Which can be difficult with cell coverage limited in places. If you call and book with credit card payment you can book days ahead, like 3 nights on the Hillary trail, but you cannot book ahead with the pass. The main reason I was interested in the pass was to avoid the long time it takes to first of all get through to the Council then actually make the booking. But the pass actually makes it worse! Agree that the cost of $8 a night is minimal, I usually just pay up at Arataki.
Note that the hut pass is not valid for car accessible campsites either. But it is at car accessible campsites around huts (eg. Trilobite Hut in Kahurangi). And yeah the Auckland council camping pass is pretty much useless, it's also not valid one year from the date you take it but somethink like March to December, so if you take it in November it's useless. And you still need to call to book. I don't get it, I never saw any of the remote campsites of the Waitakere full (well I usually also never saw anyone else either). It's time Auckland council gets a booking website, and a useful campsite pass that doesn't require booking, as booking with a phone is a pain. Takes me about 20-30 minutes on average to get through, as the payment robot is never working correctly. And it often happens that I have to camp at another campsite than the one I booked for.
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