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Concessionaires request discounts from DOC

Businesses like Southern Alps Guiding in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park are asking DOC to be ore lenient over concession fees. Photo: Southern Alps Guiding

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Tourism business owners are calling for DOC to reduce or pause concession fees as many face months without an income with the borders closed.

Businesses that operate within conservation land must pay DOC a fee and/or a portion of their income in order to get permission to operate. However, some businesses say they will have to close unless DOC is able to help.

One tour operator told the Herald he asked DOC whether his concession could be put on hold as he was unable to use the concession while international tourists were barred from the country. But DOC has so far declined the request, although it has given concession holders extra time to pay the fees.

In Aoraki/Mt Cook Village, businesses are also calling on DOC to be more lenient. Newsroom reports that all businesses in the village have to pay concession fees and rates to DOC, which acts as the local authority in the national park, providing services like rubbish and the three waters.

Business owners say unless they get a reduction in fees they may have to close – the biggest employer in town, the Hermitage Hotel, has already temporarily closed, laying off 154 staff.

DOC lifts restrictions on huts and campsites

DOC has lifted all restrictions on huts, campsites and other facilities after the country entered Level 1. People are still encouraged to keep a record of where they’ve visited for contact tracing in case there are future Covid-19 cases. Trampers are also asked to be ‘hygiene conscious’ when using facilities.

Chief economist named as deceased tramper

The person who died following a river crossing in Ruahine Forest Park has been named as Edward Hearnshaw, chief economist for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. 

Hearnshaw was tramping with a friend in the park when the pair were separated as they attempted to cross the swollen Makaroro River on June 1. His body was found the following day, 500m downstream from where the pair attempted to cross.

Meanwhile, a tramper was rescued from Kahurangi National Park on Sunday after activating a PLB, Stuff reports. The 60-year-old man was rescued from Venus Hut after injuring his leg.

And another interesting perspective has emerged on the rescue of the two Kahurangi trampers who were lost for more than two weeks in the park. One of the search and rescue volunteers has talked to RNZ about hiking more than 100km through the park over seven days to find the pair. His discovery of footprints and a campsite proved crucial to narrowing the search area and eventually finding the trampers.

Concern deer released in Northland

The Northland Regional Council believes deer may have been illegally released in Northland forest after four deer were seen from a helicopter in the Bay of Islands. Northland was one of the few areas where feral deer hadn’t established and it was illegal to release deer in the region as they could cause extensive damage to the forest and spread kauri dieback disease. The council is calling for the public to report any sightings of deer in the region. It comes after more than a dozen deer were found in Kaipara.

DOC invests in research after kea deaths

The deaths of six kea following a 1080 drop in the Matukituki Valley earlier this year were ‘pretty predictable’, according to one DOC employee. Internal emails released to Stuff revealed staff were concerned that kea had been scrounging on pre-feed pellets prior to the 1080 drop. DOC had since invested $150,000 into research to prevent kea scrounging. The Kea Conservation Trust called the deaths devastating but said the use of 1080 was still the best way to prevent kea nests from being predated.

Inside the deadly Everest queue

The Guardian has published a fascinating feature, interviewing people who were on Mt Everest when a lengthy queue formed near the summit last year, leading to several deaths. The article includes an interview with the climber who took the now-famous photo of the queue, and another climber who was attempting to summit without supplemental oxygen and had to turn back.

Trump ‘worst ever’ for public land

Outside magazine reports that Donald Trump’s presidency has resulted in reduced protections on millions of hectares of public land. An analysis has found the administration has removed or is attempting to remove protections from nearly 14 million hectares, an area equivalent to the size of Florida. He is set to be the only president in US history to have removed more public lands than he has protected, the report says.

Trail towns in a Covid world

National Geographic has written about how hiking towns in the US are preparing for one of the strangest seasons in history. Many of the towns have been largely spared from widespread infections, but they are now bracing for an influx of people from coronavirus hotspots like New York. Some towns have directed all visitors to self-isolate on arrival, but others have no restrictions. It poses a difficult dilemma for the places which rely on tourism to survive, and for the trampers deciding on whether to visit.

Beer-swilling hikers wanted

A brewery in the US wants to pay a tramper $30,000 to hike the 3500km Appalachian Trail next year as the company’s ‘chief hiking officer’. The job requires the hiker to attend several ‘beer parties’ on the way and be savvy with social media.

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