Newsletter, March 2017

barnicoat party



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PRESIDENT's PIECE | editorial 

Where shall we wander?

Tourism and the pressure it is putting on public conservation land, resources and DOC is an issue for robust national debate. We should keep in mind the wording in our key conservation legislation.
The objectives in order of importance are:

  • conserving nature;
  • educating the public;
  • fostering recreation;
  • allowing for tourism whenever compatible with nature.

The push over the last decade to increase both the number of tourists and the proportion visiting national parks is succeeding, with consequent benefits to the national economy. The focus of DOC has moved from allowing tourism to enabling it including through major investments in the Great Walks and front-country visitor facilities.

However, with DOC funding and the contribution from concessionaire fees remaining relatively static, this can only be detrimental to the other objectives especially conservation and back-country recreation for New Zealanders. We certainly lack increased funding for DOC to ensure our rich resources in both these areas are protected. But how to do this? The populist cry is for a tax on overseas visitors: “make the buggers pay!”

FMC has carefully considered the issue and is not opposed to such a tourist tax. But it would be difficult to fairly and efficiently administer to ensure a major net increase in DOC funding. FMC’s position is a substantial increase should come directly from the government coffers which are greatly enriched by the 15% GST very efficiently collected from tourists. What are your views on this?

Sue Henley recently led a trip in Nelson Lakes National Park (see Trip Reports) that highlights issues of overcrowded and inadequate facilities in the Sabine Valley with the Te Araroa trail a particular concern. This was evidenced at Blue Lake where a highly contagious tummy bug began circulating. Although camping is common, toilet and clean water facilities are often lacking with consequent increases in risks to both pristine environments and the trekkers.

However, we should not overstate the potential for visitor overcrowding to affect our enjoyment. We can and should plan our visits to our iconic places (e.g. Great Walks, Blue Lake, Angelus Hut) in the shoulder seasons or winter. Or just pop over a ridge - Sue and her team found the D’Urville was tranquil compared to the Sabine.

Our recent trip to Lees Creek was also very enjoyable, as this gem of a valley remains uncrowded. For our summer tramping, there is a vast number of wonderful back-country destinations that are not in Lonely Planet. This visit off the Rainbow Road, and even more recently to the Ruahines, brought home another vital component of tramping  access. More on this in the next issue.

Happy tramping, rain or shine!

Pat Holland,

CLUBNITES: add to your calendar

CLUB NIGHT @ Nelson Intermediate School

Date: Monday 3 April. Place: Nelson Intermediate School staffroom, Titipahi Street, Nelson. Time: 7.30pm.
Speaker: Graeme Coop.

TE ARAROA : the long pathway

In his youth, Graeme Coop blundered around the hills behind Nelson. He spent a summer with the NZFS at Lewis Pass doing plant & animal surveys. Near Hokitika he helped with possum poisoning. Since returning to NZ, Graeme tramped the South Island section of the Te Araroa Trail in 2015 - his topic for this evening’s meeting.

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