Vis­i­tor and rev­enue growth at Mt Cook


Hot, dry weather has in­creased vis­i­tor num­bers over the sum­mer sea­son at Ao­raki/Mt Cook National Park, re­sult­ing in a 45 per cent in­crease in rev­enue, a park man­ager says.

Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion (DOC) Ao­raki/Mt Cook op­er­a­tions man­ager Brent Swan­son said it had been a ‘‘very busy’’ sum­mer sea­son com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.

Ris­ing vis­i­tor num­bers had re­sulted in a 45 per cent in in­crease in rev­enue for the camp­site and vis­i­tor cen­tre, he said.

‘‘Yeah, it has been [busy]. Rev- enue over the camp­site and vis­i­tor cen­tre is up by 45 per cent com­pared to this time last year.

‘‘That’s just an in­di­ca­tion it­self [of how busy it has been].’’

There were 300 peo­ple per night stay­ing at the camp­ground and 1200 peo­ple had been go­ing through the vis­i­tor cen­tre each day since Novem­ber, he said.

Swan­son pre­ferred not to re­lease the rev­enue amount to Stuff but said he ex­pected the large turnover to ‘‘ta­per off as we get out of the school hol­i­days and into late sum­mer’’.

While the to­tal num­ber of visi­tors for the year was yet to be cal­cu­lated, Swan­son said he had ‘‘def­i­nitely’’ no­ticed an in­crease in visi­tors this sum­mer, largely due to the ‘‘good hot and dry weather’’.

The num­ber of visi­tors mak­ing their way to the national park has been grow­ing each year.

More than 800,000 peo­ple al­ready visit an­nu­ally, and that num­ber was soon ex­pected to break through the 1 mil­lion bar­rier.

‘‘We have had more peo­ple per day this year than this time last year through the park,’’ he said. ‘‘It is a great thing. ‘‘That’s the whole point of the national park, for peo­ple to come and ex­pe­ri­ence the beauty of it.’’

To cope with the in­crease, there were 32 staff mem­bers at Mt Cook over sum­mer, com­pared with the year-round 14 staff.

Since Novem­ber there had been 12 res­cues by DOC staff and three bea­con ac­ti­va­tions, the ma­jor­ity of which were due to climbers who had fallen and in­jured them­selves, he said.

Swan­son said there had not been as many res­cues this sum­mer due to good weather.

Over­all ‘‘this sum­mer has been very busy, I be­lieve due to an in­crease in gen­eral in­ter­est in the park from Ki­wis and tourists, the great short walks pro­mo­tion and the great weather’’, he said.

In Septem­ber, then Tourism Min­is­ter Paula Ben­nett and the Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter at the time, Mag­gie Barry, an­nounced the Great Short and Great Day Walks, an ex­ten­sion of the Great Walks brand.

Tas­man Glacier View, Mt Cook be­came a Great Short Walk. Such walks take 30 min­utes to three hours to com­plete.

The Hooker Val­ley be­came a Great Day Walk, which take 4-6 hours to com­plete.

Pre­vi­ously DOC team leader of search and res­cue Jim Young said his­tor­i­cally there were be­tween 30 and 40 res­cues a year in the park, and about 90 per cent of those hap­pened dur­ing sum­mer.

‘‘We’re 24 hours a day so it’s good that we’re so close and live in the vil­lage.

‘‘We can re­spond very, very quickly.’’

The teams worked on a sev­en­day standby, mean­ing that from Mon­day to Sun­day, a team of four were re­quired to stay within 15 min­utes of the base at all times.

‘‘At the same time, the other four get some days off, and do a bit of hut and track work, re­lax a bit,’’ he said.

Late last year, Ao­raki/Mt Cook DOC ranger/gar­bol­o­gist Ed­die Streat said he was given a six­month con­tract in a newly de­vel­oped role due to the num­ber of visi­tors to the area.

‘‘Pri­mar­ily I just do the rub­bish pick-ups most days, load up the truck in the morn­ing at [the] Her­mitage, pick up their waste,’’ Streat said.

The waste was sorted into large bins at the refuse site, then freighted back to Ti­maru each week.

Each day there was about 400 kilo­grams of food waste, and about 400kg of card­board a week.

Head­ing into the busier months, there could be up to 800kg of card­board a week, Streat said at the time.

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