The popular Mount Somers Track in the Hakatere Conservation Park is seeing fewer walkers, but a greater number of bed nights at the two huts on the circuit.
Senior ranger Murray Thomas from DOC’s Geraldine office said there had been a 173 per cent increase in bookings for November 2019, when compared to visitor numbers for November 2018. “Woolshed Creek Hut is nearly fully booked for every Saturday until Christmas,” he said, “and Pinnacles Hut is at half capacity right now for the same period.”
He said there was still plenty of space on weekdays for both huts.
Of the two entrances to the track, the one from the Sharplin Falls car park to Pinnacles Hut is the more difficult and family groups tend to opt for the easier Woolshed Creek car park to Woolshed Creek Hut route, which explains why this hut has been busier.
Chris Dyson, DOC’s supervisor at Geraldine, said the certainty of a bed has meant walkers don’t rush to reach the huts. “The ability to pre-book a bed provides certainty for families,” he said. “Walkers are able to pace themselves and don’t take unnecessary health and safety risks trying to be the first to the hut. And with access to the daily manifesto, we can respond more quickly if walkers do not arrive as expected.”
DOC said it had noticed other benefits, including trails becoming less overcrowded as people forward plan their trips based on bed availability. Record-keeping of visitor numbers is more accurate and compliance tracking and management is easier.