- a sum­mer suc­cess

Walking New Zealand - - New Zealand Walks -

walk­ers and hunters util­is­ing the area.

Staff have re­ported other no­table ben­e­fits such as less jostling on the track, com­pli­ance check­ing is now much eas­ier and record-keep­ing is sig­nif­i­cantly more ac­cu­rate.

Re­becca (Becs) Crilly, near­ing the end of her sec­ond sum­mer sea­son as the Lead Hut War­den for the area, echoes these ben­e­fits. “Hav­ing bookings has taken a lot of stress out of the war­den role. We are able to spend more time with tram­pers, shar­ing in­for­ma­tion about the lo­cal area and in­ter­est­ing land­marks to visit while they’re walk­ing.

Tram­pers are more en­gaged with us too, as we’re not per­ceived as ‘just com­pli­ance’ any­more. The in­ter­ac­tions are a lot friend­lier now”.

Work­ing along­side a sec­ond Hut War­den and a bevvy of vol­un­teers, Crilly stated that in­clud­ing the Mt Somers fa­cil­i­ties on the book­ing sys­tem had been well over­due and the re­sponse from tram­pers to date had been one of “over­whelm­ing joy”.

“Tram­pers are now able to pace their walk and en­joy the out­door ex­pe­ri­ence with­out the time pres­sures of need­ing to get to the hut first.

“They know they have a guar­an­teed bed at the end. There is clear sig­nage at both en­trance carparks in­form­ing people they have to book a bed be­fore they head up, but we won’t ever turn any­one away ei­ther. We just make it clear that bookings will al­ways get pri­or­ity. There hasn’t been any is­sues so far this sea­son.”

Both the Wool­shed Creek carpark and the Sharplin Falls carpark have re­cep­tion, pro­vid­ing

Ab­vove top: Mt Somers Track.

Andy Os­borne

Above: A quiet Wool­shed Creek Hut. Photo: Becs Crilly

Right; Dads and Lads.

Photo: Andy Os­borne the op­por­tu­nity for a book­ing to be placed from a mo­bile de­vice. And fur­ther up the hill, Hut War­dens use their mo­bile de­vices to com­plete on­line check-ins, con­firm­ing ex­actly who is on­site.

As a di­rect re­sult of hav­ing cer­tainty of vis­i­tor num­bers, Crilly says she has been able to gain some more struc­ture and pro­duc­tiv­ity from her days.

She plans to be avail­able at the

Photo:

huts around the times walk­ers will start ar­riv­ing and is able to sched­ule track main­te­nance ac­tiv­i­ties for the qui­eter days.

When queried about the down­sides of the book­ing sys­tem, Crilly re­ported very few. Some ‘Back Coun­try Hut Pass’ hold­ers are still learn­ing the huts must be booked first although many are al­ready fa­mil­iar with the process for claim­ing their re­fund.

The book­ing sys­tem it­self has some quirks too. There is cur­rently no self-can­cel­la­tion op­tion, mean­ing folks who aren’t able to make the trip be­come ‘no-shows’, if they haven’t rung DOC to can­cel. Some­times there is a ‘same­day book­ing’ glitch when us­ing a mo­bile phone to book from the en­trance carparks, although this is re­solved quickly by the war­dens at hut check-in. An­other fea­ture Crilly is happy to utilise.

“We have no­ticed a shift in the de­mo­graphic of people who are walk­ing too. This walk is the per­fect in­tro­duc­tion to overnight tramp­ing. Families have con­firmed ac­com­mo­da­tion so they can travel with less gear, at a pace that suits them. Wool­shed re­ally isn’t the party hut it used to be.”

Fol­low­ing a re­cent ‘Dads and Lads’ tramp, Andy Os­borne agrees with this com­ment. He and a fam­ily friend took their re­spec­tive sons (aged 7 (just) to 11) for an overnight stay at the Wool­shed Creek Hut.

“We knew that the hut needed to be booked prior and the sys­tem worked well. Ev­ery­one who was stay­ing in the hut overnight had also booked, so there were no ex­tras sleep­ing on the floor.”

Of the ex­pe­ri­ence it­self, Os­borne said they walked in via Rhy­o­lite Ridge, com­ment­ing it was “a bit tough for the boys with packs on” so they cooled off in the wa­ter­fall gorge swim­ming hole about 20 min­utes from the hut, be­fore head­ing back to the hut for the evening. “It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence over­all”.

DOC is con­tin­u­ing to im­prove the book­ing ser­vice it can pro­vide to cus­tomers and in April all ex­ist­ing book­able camp­grounds and huts, that sit out­side the Great Walks, will tran­si­tion to the new book­ing ser­vice.

More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able from book­ing.doc.govt.nz.

Above: Chat­ting with tram­pers.

Photo: Becs Crilly

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