The Department of Conservation (DOC) is seeking comment on a proposal to introduce a hut booking system for the popular Rees-Dart Tramping Track.
Increased use over the last few years has resulted in overcrowding, particularly at the Dart Hut as people often spend two nights there to enjoy side trips towards the Cascade Saddle. The busiest night in the 2010-11 season saw 69 people sleeping inside this 32 bunk hut.
Richard Kennett, Programme Manager Visitor Assets in Glenorchy says, "Increasing use over the last few summers means we have to do something to manage the pressure on things like the septic system and the risk to people from an accidental hut fire, as well as the overall visitor experience".
Demand for the hut is not able to be met by an increase in supply, as the recently reviewed 2011 Mount Aspiring National Park Management plan does not allow for more huts on the Rees-Dart circuit or an increase to the size of the Dart Hut.
DOC is proposing to manage the risk and the visitor experience by adding all three huts on the Rees-Dart circuit to DOC’s National Visitor Booking System from 3 January to 28 February each year, beginning in January 2013.
Mr Kennett goes on to say, “We are conscious of unexpected delays due to poor weather and swollen rivers, and people coming over Cascade Saddle, so our hut booking operations will include a measure of flexibility for these situations”.
DOC has a well established hut booking system on other popular tracks in the Otago/Southland region including the Routeburn, Milford and Kepler tracks. Tickets would need to be purchased either online or at DOC Visitor Centres in the same manner as for these tracks. Hut fees are to remain the same.
“Including the Rees-Dart Track on the National Visitor Booking System is a simple way to manage the current demand. It doesn’t result in any new permanent infrastructure and can be reviewed if demand decreases,” Mr Kennett says.
For more information and for all replies please contact Susie Geh firstname.lastname@example.org by 13 January 2012.