The Responsible Camping Project 2019-2020 will address faecal and trash issues head on. Council is providing free access to two-hour service hubs to give campers the opportunity to use these facilities to dispose of rubbish and do the right thing— if not, the money set aside to have a good time in New Zealand, will be spent on fines.
Craig Gallagher, Responsible Camping project manager said everything comes with a price tag. “There are a number of infringements we can issue depending on what the issue is, all are $200.00. Infringements can be issued for not being in a self-contained vehicle, freedom camping in a prohibited area, failing to leave an area clean and tidy and freedom camping the same location for more than two consecutive nights.”
Knowing the right thing to do — in New Zealand — is important. “While most Kiwis and international visitors care about the environment, we all have different understandings of what it means to look after a place. As visitor numbers increase, so too does their collective impact. Department of Conservation’s approach is to educate people on the right behaviours when visiting conservation areas,” said DOC’s heritage and visitors director, Steve Taylor. “We share these messages in a number of ways, for example on our website and via social media, via visitor centres and from rangers on the ground,” said Taylor.
DOC’s advice regarding litter and toileting is clear. “Litter harms our environment, our soil, our waterways and wildlife. Always be prepared to carry your litter away with you. If you see litter, the right thing to do is to pick it up, even if it's not yours. Food scraps are litter too. Tossing orange peels and apple cores into the bush might seem harmless, but it isn't. They can take years to break down and they feed predators like rats, stoats and mice. Protect our wildlife by packing away all litter, including food scraps. Pack in, pack out.
“When you're planning your trip, remove packaging and pack food and other supplies into reusable containers. Take a bag or a container that you can use to store your rubbish.
“About toileting: poo in a loo, and be prepared for when there isn’t one. Always go before you start your trip and take the opportunity when you see a loo. There are toilets at every DOC hut and campsite and at some popular car parks. However, there aren't any toilets on most tracks and even when there are, they are usually far apart. If you need to poop but there's no toilet, it's best to hold on until the next loo. However, if you can't wait, use one of these options. Option one is to dig a hole well away from water and people. It's important to keep poo far from streams, lakes and other people. Option two is to carry it to the next long-drop toilet. Use a compostable bag and a poo pot or poop tube to transport your poo to the next long-drop or composting toilet. Do not put the bagged poo into flush toilets, containment vault toilets, motor-home dump stations, gardens or landfills/rubbish bins. If bagged poo isn't properly disposed of, it can block toilets and spread diseases,” said Taylor.
More ‘poo management’ signage would be helpful to warn trampers, but DOC tries not to litter the outdoors with signage as this detracts from the natural scenic experience and dilutes the effectiveness of signs. “Indeed, the more signs there are, the less people pay them any attention so we need to prioritise the really important messages, mainly safety,” explained Taylor.