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July 2012 Issue
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Knowing where you've gone helps searchers find you quickly. Photo: Josh Gale

This issue we have another look at the outdoor intentions system Adventure Smart (see p14). Unfortunately there are still gaps in our knowledge about the implementation and effectiveness of this system, despite repeated questioning of DOC and Mountain Safety Council.

On the whole, I think the website and intentions system is a good idea but because it threatens to decrease the number of people, particularly foreign visitors, who leave their intentions with anyone, it has been poorly implemented.

Paper-based intentions have been around for ages and provide a sense of security for those heading into the hills.

In light of Official Information Act requests which reveal several DOC visitor centres around the country, including Aoraki/Mt Cook and Egmont/Taranaki, have exemptions to continue to use the paper-based intentions system, it seems ludicrous that all visitor centres can’t also continue to use the paper-based intention cards in tandem with the Adventure Smart system. One of the reasons Adventure Smart was introduced was to ensure consistency of approach around the country as not all DOC visitor centres had paper-based intentions cards. Allowing exemptions seems to contradict this argument.

Gradually phasing out the paper-based system over a number of months or years until Adventure Smart had established itself in the minds of outdoor users and international visitors would seem to be the most sensible course of action. The apparent rushed job DOC has made of implementing the system has not endeared it to outdoor users, some of its own visitor centres, or tourism operators like Nick Menary who runs a backpackers lodge in Arthur’s Pass National Park and who says international visitors, like the ones who stay with him, head into the outdoors on the spur of the moment and don’t have time to wait for their trusted contact to acknowledge they’ve got their back.

Tell us your thoughts on Adventure Smart – after all, you’re the ones expected to use it.

Here at Wilderness we try to constantly improve the reading experience. You may have noticed over the last few months we have added a new section called ‘Waypoints’ and we have a few more changes in the pipeline which we think will enhance the magazine. We are also making much more use of our website ( and facebook page ( than ever before. If you want to stay better informed on outdoor news, views and issues I encourage you to bookmark our web pages where you can keep abreast of the latest in outdoor news, gear and participate in monthly polls and quizzes – see walkshorts for the results of last month’s quiz and log-on to particupate in this month’s.

– Alistair Hall