Great. So we end up with bus drivers with no experienmce of the backcountry telling us we can or can't go tramping. You already get this from day-trippers. You already get this in DoC officies. Now coming to a bus near you...
At least i'm not likely to access any of these places using a tour operator and if i encountered one i would listen and carry on anyway.
I've asked DoC if it holds a list of the protocols to see if I can get a copy.
Based on the events a few weeks ago, it was inferred in the media that (aside from gear) that operator group's requirement metric had something to do with forecast wind speed, which could be really annoying.
It might be that the whole protocol has some kind of allowance for people somehow judged to know what they're doing, but really how do you gauge a person like that objectively?
If this spreads I assume it'll mean the likes of tracknet and the other roadend bus companies, not just 'tours'. May or may not affect me, but still not happy on principle - there's plenty of skilled people who will use these facilities to reach roadends would could be affected.
Aftraid we will end up like some of the US parks where people can't get into the backcountry unless they're 'certified', or accompanied/approved by a registered guide. Slippery slopes and all that ...
i think it's only going to be the crossing becauese of the vast numbers of problems they have there.
in most cases i think they are looking at the people who go up wearing summer gear and no raincoat that look patently ill equipped if rain is in the forecast.
a lot of people are going up with only their lunch if that, see people in jeans when the weather is dodgy...
i doubt a driver would be paying muh attention to serious tramp, they'd have enough of a pack with them to indicate they are taking moer than their gear for a day at the beach.... usual story it's the idiots that ruin it for everyone else...
I can see the attraction for operators to embrace this, because it gives them objective rules which they can follow to absolve themselves of responsibility when something bad finally happens, even when those rules were unrelated to or inadequate to prevent the cause of the accident anyway. Forcing everyone to be a member of TACTAG ensures they won't lose business to anyone else who goes by different rules, like trusting people to be responsible for themselves for instance.
DoC concessions are a blunt instrument to enforce this sort of thing in the absence of legislation that lets DoC do it more forcefully (for good reason, imho). It only affects commercial operators who do little more than drive a few km into the park and dropping people off. It still doesn't ensure people act intelligently once they're left to themselves. It doesn't prevent people from using private vehicles or rental vehicles.
I don't think it's necessary to look as far as the USA. You only have to look to Australia for draconian park rules, although to be fair some Aussies I've met don't tend to see it that way. I'm trying to help organise a weekend trip into Wilson's Prom (Vic) and it's all about being required to stay on tracks, then having tracks closed all over the place because of flooding 2 years ago which hasn't been fixed thanks to slow funding (gee I wonder where the funding's going), and remaining tracks being very limited. 2 minutes on the phone to a ranger was basically about everywhere I wasn't allowed. No official tracks go up and over anything---they all go through valleys which probably explains the flood issues!), you're required to carry permits with page long fine print conditions for entry and camping in specific places only, and the list goes on.
Maybe there's rational reason from past experience here given the density of population compared with so few decent sized parks, but it's also very annoying and it takes much of the fun out of the organising and planning. I think I've been spoiled by NZ's freedoms of entry to the conservation estate and presumption of personal responsibility, but I don't take it for granted and wouldn't ever give it up if I can help it.
Wondering why these Victorians just don't go into Wilson's Prom and cut open the tracks like Permolat etc. does here? Is it a multiday trip? They could be missing out on tourist dollars if they don't cut their own tracks.
I guess it'd be illegal for one thing, not that it stops everyone but it certainly prevents people from taking advantage of that sort of route. (I've been cautioned for jaywalking here after I started crossing when the red guy was flashing, and don't doubt that there would be fines issued on being caught in closed off parts of parks.) Last month I got into some back n' forth with one of the local bloggers about closed tracks ( http://bit.ly/LLOCRH ) and we resolved that Parks Victoria can define 'public safety zones' where access is restricted as long as it publishes them in the government gazette. So I went and checked the Gazette and found a 54 page list, with 42 lines per page, each line specifying an anonymous areas by south-west and north-east lat/lon, combined with restrictions on activities like 'entering'. At least Vic no longer charges for entry. That went out a couple of years ago.
I think my gripe with trying to help organise this is mostly that exploring interesting looking places or routes isn't an option. You're allowed to go to places designed by the government to be visited, as long as they're open and deemed to be up to safety standards, and nowhere else, but I don't see why I should have to trust a government's definition of what's interesting or wait weeks, months or years for it to clear a fallen tree just in case someone grazes a knee. (But nobody officially knows what's actually wrong because nobody's allowed to go there.) Locals may have a very different perspective and it's possible that without such restrictions there'd be thousands of people trampling around certain accessible parks, killing flora and fauna and grazing their knees without much control, but from experience so far I don't ever want to see NZ become like that as a rule. I like being spoiled with freedom to be responsible.
remember the shuttles on the tongariro are taking up to hundreds of people a day to the track, no other alpine walk in new zealand gets anywhere near as many day walkers.
the shuttles take the bulk of the people walking the track.
already a large proportion of the shuttles already adhere to TACTAG., but theres still a lot of walkers being let onto the track thoroughly under equipped. even ultra light walkers would put these people to shame. i doubt any one of us would encounter problems from the shuttle drivers, and if you did you could probably argue your way out of a corner by claiming extensive experience in alpine envionments....
there must be a lot of walkers who end up as drowned rats on the taranaki falls. tama lakes walks judging by the lack of adequate clothing the walkers wear there even when theres a bad weather forecast.. difference from the tongariro crossing is people will still have more of a chance to get back to their cars or accomodation before hypothermia sets in...
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