Date: 14 May 2012
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is cautioning trampers in Fiordland to be prepared for winter conditions as they venture onto Great Walks over the next few weeks.
“Trampers need to be totally self-sufficient and have enough gear and emergency equipment to suit winter conditions,” warned DOC ranger Pania Dalley.
The cooler conditions arrived as DOC’s hut rangers prepared the huts and tracks for the winter season.
DOC ranger preparing flight bag at Dumpling Hut“Whilst the 16 hut rangers have spent their summer in often remote locations acting as plumber, builder, electrician, doctor, biologist and weather guru all rolled into one, the last two weeks really had them working flat out,” said DOC Ranger Pania Dalley.
“They had to make sure the huts are in good shape and ready to handle the freezing winter weather as well as getting empty gas bottles and a raft of rubbish and recycling ready for flying off the track and onto awaiting trailers to be bought back to Te Anau.
Ms Dalley said hut rangers have dismantled a web of pipes, disconnected water supplies, emptied sewage tanks and finally added anti-freeze to toilets to ensure ice doesn't fracture the bowls. Gas is switched off, bottles removed and large stainless covers are secured over gas cookers in the kitchen. The woodshed is filled and gutters are cleared of debris awaiting the flow of rain water to fill outdoor water tanks.
The huts remain open for use over the winter season (May to October), but their ease of access is subject to weather, track and avalanche conditions. There are no hut rangers to assist trampers in emergency situations or provide information on weather, hut or track conditions. However, Ms Dalley noted that DOC staff are regularly roaming the tracks at this time of year checking facilities and collecting hut tickets from trampers.
“Tickets or annual hut passes can be purchased from any DOC office, although visitors to Fiordland are encouraged to check for current track and hut conditions and weather forecasts with the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.