Otago Daily Times

Move to book­ing sys­tem for hut brings crit­i­cism

- JOHN GIBB john.gibb@odt.co.nz Dunedin · New Zealand · New Zealand Department of Conservation · Otago Region · Steve Taylor · Wellington, New Zealand · Chris Bowen

MOVES to in­tro­duce a book­ing sys­tem at Ju­bilee Hut, near Dunedin, have sparked crit­i­cism over lack of con­sul­ta­tion.

Fed­er­ated Moun­tain Clubs of New Zealand (FMC) south­ern con­vener Peter Wil­son said the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion planned to in­tro­duce an on­line book­ing sys­tem for the 10­bed hut in the Sil­ver Peaks from Novem­ber 2, de­spite a lack of con­sul­ta­tion.

Mr Wil­son, also for­mer FMC na­tional pres­i­dent, was dis­ap­pointed that this was also not an iso­lated ex­am­ple of lack of con­sul­ta­tion by Doc over ex­tend­ing the hut book­ing sys­tem.

‘‘They don’t even tell us — we find out through the Doc in­ter­net site,’’ he said.

He was also con­cerned that book­ing sys­tems did not work in the ab­sence of a hut war­den, and could lead to con­flict among hut users.

He had had the ex­pe­ri­ence at a North Is­land hut of hav­ing tick­ets for a hut but find­ing that a group who had not booked had taken over the bunks and re­fused to move out, he said.

Otago Tramp­ing and Moun­taineer­ing Club im­me­di­ate past pres­i­dent Antony Pet­tinger said the club had re­cently been no­ti­fied about the change, but there had been no con­sul­ta­tion, and the club would have liked the chance to con­sult.

Mr Pet­tinger was still un­clear about ex­actly how the planned new sys­tem would work dur­ing sum­mer, and if it would ap­ply only to week­ends, which were the busiest time, but not dur­ing the week.

He was also un­sure if the book­ing sys­tem would also ap­ply dur­ing the win­ter months, which were gen­er­ally a much qui­eter time for hut use.

The club en­joyed a close re­la­tion­ship with Doc.

Club mem­bers had been tramp­ing to the Sil­ver Peaks since the 1920s, had built the first hut in the area in the 1940s, and Doc had later re­placed that hut with a new fa­cil­ity, he said.

Doc di­rec­tor her­itage and vis­i­tors Steve Tay­lor, of Wellington, said he wanted to look in to the con­sul­ta­tion sit­u­a­tion, and if there had been is­sues, and was happy to talk to any­one with con­cerns about the hut.

Doc prod­ucts, stan­dards and poli­cies man­ager Chris Bowen said Ju­bilee Hut, close to Dunedin’s ur­ban pop­u­la­tion, was a pop­u­lar hut and a ‘‘great gate­way to back­coun­try tramp­ing’’.

Be­cause of its lo­ca­tion and pop­u­lar­ity, it was iden­ti­fied as ‘‘one of the huts around the coun­try to be added to the book­ing sys­tem’’, Mr Bowen said.

This would mean peo­ple would avoid over­crowd­ing and would en­able them to more eas­ily plan their trips by be­ing able to book, pay and mod­ify on­line.

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, some peo­ple had ar­rived at the hut at week­ends and had not been able to gain a bunk in­side.

This was not an ideal ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing for young peo­ple, and ‘‘we are re­ally keen for Dunedin peo­ple to en­joy the out­doors’’.

Na­tion­ally Doc and the FMC had been ‘‘en­gag­ing in the de­vel­op­ment of the book­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion pol­icy’’ and would con­tinue to work to­gether get­ting new fa­cil­i­ties on the book­ing sys­tem, he said.

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