FMC canvassed feedback from southern tramping clubs and individual supporters, and submitted an extensive document for DOC’s consideration.
DOC has now confirmed that both huts will be on the booking system for the summer season, starting 1 October 2019.
The Annual Hut Pass can still be used to pay for either hut. Unfortunately, DOC’s online booking system is not yet able to accept Annual Hut Passes (We are told it will be, starting 2020). In the meantime, AHP holders can make the booking online and then claim a refund from the Geraldine DOC office, or else they can contact the Geraldine Office first and request that the office make the booking for them.
FMC’s feedback to DOC
Our feedback to the Department of Conservation is summarised here:
- Addition of the huts to the booking system be delayed until the online booking system has been
reconfigured to accept the Annual Hut Pass.
- A radio link is installed at Woolshed Creek Hut prior to the hut being added to the online booking
- Camping should not be included in the booking system at either hut, and both huts must still be
available to trampers who require shelter from adverse weather.
- DOC should undertake further analysis of hut occupancy data and consider introducing hut
bookings on weekends and holidays only. Given that 85% of hut users are New Zealanders, it is
logical to assume that overcrowding occurs mainly on weekends and holidays.
- Occupancy data should be analysed annually to determine what, if any, booking system is
appropriate for the following season.
- Print and online messaging on the purpose and etiquette of huts should be strengthened,
including recommendations that trampers come prepared to camp. We consider Mt Somers to be
a gateway to the backcountry socially as well as environmentally.
You can read the document in its entirety here.
Photo at top: Pinnacles Hut, Mount Somers. (c) Shaun Barnett