Date: 17 December 2009
The Department of Conservation says action it has taken over illegal guiding of a walking tour in Abel Tasman National Park is a reminder that a concession is required for commercial activities in national parks and other conservation areas.
A 37-year-old German man pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court today to a charge of guiding an organised tour group in a national park for specific gain or reward without a concession. He was discharged without conviction but ordered to donate $500 towards the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust community conservation project.
The man had been guiding a group of five tourists on a walking trip in the park when spoken to by DOC staff at Awaroa Hut late last month.
DOC Motueka Area Manager Martin Rodd said the requirement for a concession ensured only approved commercial activity took place in public conservation areas.
“The concession system helps ensure commercial activities are compatible with protecting the environment and the visitor experience in natural areas. Concessionaires meet certain standards to ensure impacts on those areas are avoided and they also have approved safety plans for their clients’ safety.
“Carrying out commercial activities without a concession is not a level playing field for the professional tourism concessionaires we already have operating in Abel Tasman National Park. It is not playing fair with other park visitors, whose visitor experience could be spoiled by additional unauthorised commercial activity.
“It is also not being fair with the New Zealand public as concession fees go back into Government funds to ultimately assist in the funding of conservation work nationally.”
“We will continue to keep watch for illegal commercial activity in Abel Tasman National Park and other areas and we will be looking to take action against anyone operating illegally.”
The offence of guiding a tour group without a concession in a national park carries maximum penalties of fines up to $2500 or jail for up to three months for tour leaders and, for companies, fines of up to $25,000.
DOC Motueka Area Manager, Martin Rodd, ph: +64 3 528 1810 or +64 27 283 9692.