How to dispose of your own poop is not top on the list of tourist research prior to embarking to New Zealand. But, it’s critical knowledge that councils throughout the country are eager to pass on to visitors.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) provides an increased ranger presence over the peak summer season in places that receive a high volume of visitors, to encourage compliance and get important behaviour messages across. In regards to doing your “business”, a ranger warned: “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 these other options,” said Steve Taylor, DOC’s heritage and visitors director.
Option one: dig a hole well away from water and people. It's important to keep poo far from streams, lakes and other people. Follow these simple steps to poop safely: walk at least 50m from water, tracks and campsites; dig down 15-20 cm; and then use as little toilet paper as possible, or else use soft leaves or bark. Don't use bleached toilet paper or wet wipes; and bury your poop and all toilet paper with soil, filling the hole to the top.
Option two: carry it to the next long-drop toilet. Use a compostable bag and a poop 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. Place your poop and all toilet paper into a compostable bag and tie it up; then place the bag into the poop pot and close the lid; and at the end, when you get to a toilet, check it's the right type. If bagged poop isn't properly disposed of, it can block toilets and spread diseases.
As many DOC huts and campsites get their water supply from streams, it is essential to keep poop away from water sources. “Direct contact with poo or with giardia in water can cause outbreaks of sickness that spread easily when people are in close proximity. That’s no way to spend a holiday!,” concluded Taylor. Spread the spirit of joy over the holiday season, not disease.