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Rising hut fees, the price of being honest

I woke on Saturday morning to the Radio NZ news that back-country hut pass fees are to rise [1], or more to the point that they’ve already risen as of last Friday when the announcement was made. The base cost of annual hut passes rises from $90 to $120, and Great Walk Hut bookings (for those who use them) are also rising by $5 per night. The price of individual hut tickets (for those not using passes) stays the same at $5 each, although the Department of Conservation increased the number of tickets required to stay in many huts during mid-2008 [2], when the “serviced hut” cost went from 2 tickets to 3 tickets per night.

The story hasn’t made it far through the media, and most places where it’s visible show as a regurgitation of DoC’s press release [3] pulled off the news-wire. One media organisation that investigated further was the New Zealand Herald, although the Herald’s story [4] doesn’t offer much further information except to get a quote from a Mountain Safety Council [5] representative who “welcomed the increase”. The article’s thin on detail about why the MSC welcomed the increase, just as it’s thin on why the MSC was consulted before organisations that more directly represent use of back-country huts (as opposed to outdoor safety) such as FMC [6], the NZ Alpine Club [7] the NZ Deerstalkers [8], or any number of local outdoor recreation clubs for that matter.

Hut fees were introduced in 1988 by the newly-founded Department of Conservation. They’ve taken time sink in, with many people early on finding it offensive for the government to effectively usurp facilities they’d helped to build, and then charge for their use. Chris MacLean’s Tararua history book quotes John Rundle during a 1991 taped conversation as follows:

“I, with a lot of other people, have put a lot of voluntary time in cutting these tracks, building these huts — which DoC hasn’t done — going on searches, instructing schools, Scouts, Girl Guides and things like that — all voluntary. For them to come and ask me for a hut fee is an insult.”

As MacLean writes, the Tararuas, which have a strong history of recreational tramping and community involvement, began with about a 25% compliance rate when hut fees were introduced. In 1989 this resulted in a long weekend helicopter blitz in which rangers were flown around many huts throughout the range to pounce on those staying there, and ensure that $4 hut fees were paid. It was bad for public relations, but apparently effective in the longer term and reportedly the $1100 use of the helicopter was cheaper than paying rangers to walk to all the remote places.

These days I’ve found it difficult to find wardens in Tararua huts. I guess either most people pay, or that the local DoC conservancies are indifferent towards enforcing it and would rather spend money elsewhere. I’ve met a volunteer warden once, at Mitre Flats about a year ago. He was a nice guy out for his own weekend tramp with a friend more than to be a warden. They had the warden’s quarters as a guaranteed room, but got the fire going before anyone else did. Next morning he wired up the warden’s radio to call in the hut’s overnight numbers and get us all a weather forecast. He reluctantly asked people to show hut tickets, which is a warden’s obligation, but decided from an unrelated conversation that I probably had an Annual Hut Pass and politely told me he wasn’t going to bother asking me to prove it. I dug it out and asked him look at it anyway, because it’s the only chance I’ve ever had to actually prove to a DoC representative that yes, I really do pay my hut fees.

To try and address some of the concerns people have, DoC also made a few concessions. A commitment was made to only use hut fee revenue specifically for maintenance and building of huts, rather than simply vanishing into DoC’s budget — it’s all in the presentation of the accounting, of course. Custodian arrangements have also been kept with many clubs, so the clubs can remain associated with certain huts, and hold a joint responsibility for their up-keep. In such cases, club members aren’t obligated to pay fees for using those huts, though I suspect many would have annual hut passes anyway.

[Edited 9-July-2010: I’ve added the following table and three paragraphs having heard back from DoC with some numbers]
Hut fees have always felt like token gestures to me, with the impression that they don’t come close to the costs of maintaining the hut network. I did, however, ask the Department of Conservation for more detailed numbers about maintenance of the back-country hut network compared with revenue from hut tickets and hut passes, and received limited information back from a very helpful person. For the financial year ending June 2009, DoC received the following revenue for various kinds of hut tickets not including Great Walk huts:

DoC Hut Ticket Revenue for the year ending June 2009:
Annual Hut Passes $396,000
Adult Tickets $412,750
Youth Tickets $32,750
Cash transactions/invoices* $437,500
TOTAL $1,279,000
* Cash transactions and invoices account for groups like tramping clubs and schools that pay direct to local DoC offices instead of purchasing tickets.

In the same year, as was stated in DoC’s Annual Report for the year ending June 2009 [9], expenditure on “huts” was about $16.5m. A crucial point to note with the $16.5m expenditure figure, as was confirmed by DoC when I asked, is that it includes the cost of maintaining Great Walk huts, an amount that I was told couldn’t be separated. Great Walk huts are the five star hotels of the hut network, likely to be very expensive to maintain. Also critical when comparing the $16.5m expenditure with the $1.3m hut ticket revenue is that the user-pays part of Great Walk huts does not come from the regular back-country hut tickets and annual passes at all. It comes from a separate booking and payment system (revenue $3.9m during the same time) that’s independent from other huts.

Having subtracted Great Walk hut maintenance from the initial $16.5m figure, whatever substantial amount it may be, the $1.3m that hut tickets put towards maintenance of the rest of the hut network is likely a big proportion of maintenance, and not such a token gesture after all. If the heavily marketed tourist-frequented Great Walk huts cost $10m to maintain in that year (and let’s be clear that I’m guessing), $1.3m of hut ticket revenue makes up a good 20% of the remaining $6.5m allocated to maintaining 950-odd huts in the rest of the network for which hut ticket revenue is supposed to directly contribute.

When I first posted this before having the figures, I’d guessed that the extra money from raising hut fees wouldn’t make much difference, but now I’m not so sure. If anything though, I think it reinforces my belief that there would be much less stress on the system if all hut users actually paid for huts as they’re supposed to.

There are many people out there who don’t pay hut fees at all, both New Zealanders and tourists, and this is what annoys me about the price rise for honest people. Hut fees are an honesty system, which is not a voluntary system. Rather than the government taking a clear and visible initiative to get more of those people to pay, I feel as if I’m being made to further subsidise certain other people’s free-loading. Huts should either be fully subsidised for everyone with the addition of labour and funds as people choose to volunteer (which used to be the case), or have their costs equally shared by all users as fairly as can be managed. The current system doesn’t give the impression of doing this very well. It’s unfair to people who are honest.

Recent Federated Mountain Club Bulletins have been scattered with letters of people complaining about tourists who refuse to pay hut fees. For instance, Trish Jenner of the North Shore Tramping Club [10] comments (Letters, FMC Bulletin 179, March 2010):

For a number of years I have noted how few pay. At one hut, New Zealanders, including us, numbered nine and every one had a ticket or annual hut pass. Foreign trampers also numbered nine but only two had bought hut tickets — a high level of non-compliance. Comments from friends suggest other tracks, for example the Dusky, support these figures.

At the Mangaturuturu Hut, an American couple camped nearby, but one of them slept in the hut, and they used the woodstove for cooking. They commented that they were “doing New Zealand on the cheap”. A French couple seemed to be playing a game of avoiding hut wardens and commented, “We are very bad tourists!”

This story is consistent with other random anecdotes I’ve heard from various people. Maybe one of the more amazing stories was of a group of tourists reportedly living in huts near road-ends for weeks on end without paying a cent, and driving out to do the grocery shopping. I’ve heard other anecdotes about tourists telling each other as they return home that the back-country hut system in New Zealand is free, and it’s completely legal and ethically okay to do this kind of thing.

One comment in a newswire feed of the recent story over at YahooXtra [11], from a poster claiming to live in a National Park, agrees that there’s no shortage of “hut users who have no intention of paying the NZ taxpayer for their accommodation”. Some anecdotes are extremes but there’s an underlying impression that there’s a combination of mis-information and probably intentional abuse of the system. I don’t wish to stereotype all tourists when saying this. I figure most tourists are very responsible, or at least try to be if they understand what’s expected.

It’s not just tourists to New Zealand, of course. A quick anecdotal browse of posts in the forums over at Fish & Hunt [12] in response to this recent price rise shows that there are still New Zealanders who don’t pay fees, either because they didn’t realise they were supposed to, because they can’t be bothered, or because they refuse on principle through disliking the government for some other reason such as its use of 1080 poison for pest control.

There’s allegedly a correlation between people who avoid hut fees and people who don’t write in books, supposedly from a fear that wardens or other Department of Conservation staff must go through names in the books and correlate them with names on tickets. I can’t imagine this actually happens, but nevertheless the avoidance of writing in books is a bad thing. Avoiding writing in hut books inhibits Search and Rescue operations when it’s unclear if a missing person has been through a hut. It also gives a false impression of how frequently a hut is used, since otherwise it’s very difficult to tell. This might in turn result in the hut’s removal, or less maintenance than might be ideal.

The remoteness of back-country huts means it’s difficult to ensure that people pay fees. It’s also impractical to enforce hut fees too severely lest it put people’s lives at risk by preventing them from using huts in times of danger. In other words, putting locks on the doors would be very bad. It’s unfortunate that the honesty system results in significant proportions of people not paying for one reason or another.

Overall I think there are at least three groups of people who don’t pay hut fees:

  1. Those who don’t realise they’re supposed to pay hut fees.
  2. Those who forget or can’t be bothered to pay hut fees.
  3. Those who refuse to pay hut fees due to some sort of principle.

Endless ideas exist for how to deal with this problem, some of which are being attempted but not completely effectively it seems. Some ideas that I like are:

I bet there are many more ideas.

The group of hut users who don’t pay on principle is unlikely to be swayed by any of these ideas. Probably the only things that can be done in some cases is either to accept it, to change the rules (eg. perhaps formally recognise people’s use of facilities is in exchange for their up-keep of the facilities), cater to people’s principles where it’s feasible to do so, or bring in more enforcement. It’s hard to say which (if any) of these is a good idea. They all have down sides. Still, I think if DoC’s going to progressively raise the hut fee prices for those who are honest, there’s a need to more heavily address the problems with other people not paying at all. Otherwise it’s an unfair system.

20 Comments (Open | Close)

20 Comments To "Rising hut fees, the price of being honest"

#1 Comment By Amelia On 5 July, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

Well, thats a HUGE price rise on the Annual Hut pass, and a pain in the rear end if you ask me.
I’m also dissapointed that DoC recently changed the rankings of huts without making it widely known. It used to be that a “Serviced” hut would ALWAYS have gas. I only discovered on planning our Easter trip to Nelson Lakes that this is no longer the case!!

At $120 a year, and assuming that FMC still get 30% off, thats about $84 for the year. Average out staying at mainly Serviced Huts (for me at least) and I would need to stay 6 nights to have paid back my pass. I dont know that I actually DO that much tramping each year at the moment!
(I know, you consider it a donation, and so do I, but I – like you – object to having this donation forcibly increased to pay for those who dont pay at all!)

I too have only met a hut warden once off a great walk – at Powell Hut back in about 1997. Nice guy. Had a sideline running in cool fizzy drinks 🙂 Other than that, its been great walks, including at Ketetahi when I stayed there one easter.

#2 Comment By Ian On 6 July, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

So far this year my $90 hut pass has given me 19 nights in huts, some free such as bivs and others serviced huts. Excellent value for money. At $120 still excellent value for money.

#3 Comment By Mike McGavin On 6 July, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

Hello. Thanks for the comments.

@Amelia, thanks I hadn’t realised they changed the serviced hut definitions.

@Ian, no doubt about that. I agree that it’s still good value for money, as long we never get back-country ticket prices spiraling out of control. It was meant to be a charge that’s not too different from being free to make sure outdoor recreation is still very affordable for as many as possible, and hopefully it stays that way. (Keeping in mind that many who pays the user-pays part of hut use are also taxpayers.)

I’ll take DoC’s word on it that they need some extra cash in their budget to help maintain huts. I’m not sure if you were responding to myself or Amelia, but my main gripe here is that hut ticket prices are being pushed upwards when there are clearly still lots of people who ignore them completely. The user-pays part of the cost is getting lumped on people who are honest, and the price rises might not have been necessary if there were more effective means in place to stop people abusing others’ honesty in the first place. I’m sure DoC does try (eg. there are always signs in huts telling people they should have bought a hut ticket before they left), but whatever it’s trying doesn’t give an impression of being very effective.

#4 Comment By Robb On 7 July, 2010 @ 8:55 am

Kia ora Mike,
I agree with Ian, that even at 120 bucks it is still good value to the frequent back country user. Last year was the first year in a quite a stretch I did not buy a hut pass as my hip just didn’t let me in the mountains as much as I would have liked. With that issue fixed I will happily purchase one soon. I do take your point however that the passes and tickets should not become a mere revenue gathering stream to make up for national’s cuts to the DOC budget. If that became the case it seems to me the nat’s focus would be more on maintaining high use tourist places than back country tracks, huts, bridges, ect – that is my big concern, and was under Labour as well to be fair.
But certainly in comparison to my time growing up in the states and the high charges to using the state and national park systems, and the myriad of rules and crowds, we live in a very blessed place that still offers great opportunity to mix with wild places for a low cost.
Cheers,
Robb

#5 Comment By Mike McGavin On 7 July, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

Hi Robb. Thanks for the comment and I’ve no argument with anything you’ve said. $120 is still a bargain, and it’s something I’ll pay.

It’s important to recognise that a large part of hut maintenance is still taxpayer-funded (taxes of people who use them, taxes of people who don’t use them, etc). Hut fees cover the part of the maintenance that isn’t covered by taxpayers. I don’t know exactly what this is but I’m hoping to hear something back from DoC at some point, mostly through curiosity. I’m sure the fees wouldn’t have gone up if there weren’t a need.

My gripe here is that it feels as if fees are being pushed upwards to get more money out of the honest people who pay, rather than to try and get the dishonest people to pay up in the first place. To put it another way, I’m already subsidising people’s free-loading on the non-public funded part of the maintenance, so why should I subsidise them even more? (I will, of course, because I won’t sink to their level.) Wouldn’t it be much more fair to try to get the due fees out of tourists and locals who rip off the system at others’ expense?

I say ‘feels’ because I don’t have objective data around this. I don’t know if the number of free-loaders is actually significant, or if it’s being mis-represented by anecdotes. The number of anecdotes that float around the place from annoyed people, though, implies to me that perception is a factor here. If the anecdotes give a false impression then it’d be good for someone in the know to clear it up.

I personally think that if DoC’s pushing up the hut fees so that the people who already pay have to pay more, it owes those people to either make a clear improved effort to more effectively extract fees from non-paying users, or otherwise try to demonstrate that free-loaders aren’t significantly ripping off the system as anecdotes suggest. Assuming the anecdotes are representative, it’d be nice to see some more resourcing put into this area to figure out why people don’t pay what they’re supposed to, and figure out how to deal with it.

Just finally to round up, I’m sure some people in DoC spend lots of time trying to track down people who don’t pay, and I don’t wish to bag them for it. It just appears that it’s not as effective as it should be, which bothers me when I’m being asked to fork out more.

#6 Comment By Mike McGavin On 9 July, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

Hello. I’ve received some numbers back from DoC regarding revenue from hut tickets, and I’ve updated this post to include the information. (Three paragraphs and a table in the middle.)

As I’ve explained in the updated text, I no longer see hut tickets as a token gesture, and (to be honest) I think if anything my belief that those who don’t paying are probably being subsidised quite heavily by people who do pay. It’s still difficult to tell without much more information, of course, such as how many people free-load… and that’s very hard to measure.

#7 Comment By Robb On 10 July, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

Kia ora Mike,
I was a little rushed when writing my last comment, and just have to add that I agree completely that there are not a few but many whom abuse the hut system. I have come across both trampers and hunters whom I know have not paid any fee. On more than one occasion I have been in areas where parties flown into huts for many days, and have not even left entries in the hut books, so the liklihood of them paying or having a hut pass are fairly remote. One guy told me that since he paid the chopper to be flown in, the chopper guy kicks back a concession to DOC so his fee is part of that. It is not, and DOC informed me that the choppers are not responsible for ensuring the fees are paid. Just an example of how lax the honesty system can be.
There is also a lot of misplaced sense of entitlement amongst people here so many can easily rationalize reasons not to worry about fees, or for that matter leaving behind rubbish, wine bottles, and empty gas cannisters to lighten up ones pack. There may even be a correlation there.
So I agree with what you are writing Mike. Perhaps if we all just took a moment while out there to really look around and take it all in, 5 bucks, or 120 bucks, seems pretty cheap.
Cheers,
Robb

#8 Comment By Mike McGavin On 13 July, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

Hey no problem, and thanks for the further thoughts. This issue seems to be stirring in Federated Mountain Clubs at the moment as I indicated in my post. For now I’ll passively be keen to see if any more letters show up in the next bulletin or two.

I’m guessing that part of this is because DoC is a massive and very distributed organisation that has a variety of responsibilities that don’t always cross clearly. Maybe it’s not completely clear from inside the system that DoC’s getting less money because lots of people refuse to pay at all, rather than because those who pay aren’t paying enough. Or maybe it is clear, but the organisation’s simply so tangled internally that it’s hard for the left hand to affect what the right hand’s doing. I still think it’s reasonable for me to feel let down, and to wish someone higher up the chain could look at and deal with this problem of people not paying with a wider perspective.

Meanwhile I’ll just keep paying for other people who can’t be bothered to pay up themselves. You’re right, it’s still very affordable.

#9 Comment By BigPaul On 6 January, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

A topic that has erked me for some time. I am a hut pass holder and am quite satisfied with the new cost of $120 per year as i percieve it to be good value. I tramp every month using two to three huts per tramp. At 55 years of age I fall just outside the age group for whom the huts and tracks where originally built and dont have a sense of entitlement that many younger than me appear to have. It has been my experience that by far the majority of people I meet in huts have not paid to spend the night and are definitely not entitled by way of work, affiliation or promise to do so. Its rare to see them challenged by anybody (DOC representative or another hut user who has paid) so there isnt even a moral question asked leaving them to feel at the very least quite clever or the feeling that we give them tacit approval by our silence (a disturbing NZ trait dont challenge or rock the boat she’ll be right mate). It may make many of you uncomfortable to challenge in any way at all but an obviouse read of the hut book and comment to remind them to fill in thier names will usually illicit a response that then leaves you free to remind them that they are basically dishonest and morally corrupt it dosent have to be combative or argumentative but i would rather leave them with the feeling that i know and dont approve.
DOC started about a year ago to leave a chart in some huts that the first up in the morning could indicate by numbers only how many stayed the night independant of the hut book. It seems to have stopped? I thought at the very least it gave an indication of numbers using the hut——perhaps the numbers where too embarrising!

#10 Comment By Mike McGavin On 18 January, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

Hi BigPaul. Thanks for the comments. I definitely agree with you about the good value, and it’s even better of course for people with club affiliations.

I saw those charts in a few huts around Egmont National Park a while back, and possibly one or two in the Tararuas, but I had the impression it’d be hard for DoC to maintain them in anything but the huts on the edge of places, or those who feed it in start to see less point. I suspect some people would start to scribble over them or use them for fire starting material before too long if they became too much of a common thing.

I think your point about asking people is a good enough one, too. I don’t do enough of that myself, but it’d be nice just to question and get people to state out loud why they’re not paying if they’re not paying, just to force them to actually think it through. I think if the hut ticket boxes were transparent instead of opaque, to show the tickets inside, it might also help to make it more obvious that it’s not just a voluntary box.

#11 Comment By Brent On 10 March, 2011 @ 10:13 am

Transparent hut ticket boxes are a bad idea, because sometimes I forget to pick up hut tickets and end up putting cash in instead. I suspect many others do as well…

#12 Comment By Mike McGavin On 10 March, 2011 @ 10:18 am

Hi Brent. My attitude to that has usually been to just drop money into a DOC office after returning, though I’ve never had to because of the whole hut pass thing.

#13 Comment By Brent On 10 March, 2011 @ 10:55 am

Oh yes, I do agree that $120 is still a sweet deal. But it is sad that you don’t get more than a 10% discount on great walk huts. I am now very much disinclined to go to a great walk hut and pay almost $30 to stay there, sometimes regardless of what time of year. Yet we have no option when walking – sometimes we have to stay there because there aren’t any back country huts nearby. I would hazard to say that most kiwis, like me, that pay for a year pass didn’t want/need or probably use the facilities in those huts (i.e. cook using their own gas, don’t heat the hut when there are less than 5 people) and should therefore get a greater discount, more like 50%.

Take the Heaphy – walking it over 5 nights now costs $150 per person for your accommodation! Or $135 for holders of a yearly hut pass which is barely a discount!. Even for Brown hut which is at the road end it costs $27 to stay there! It can’t cost that much to maintain a hut at the end of a road, particularly of the standard that one is… the high costs of staying there are a real disincentive now for me to walk it.

20%-40% group discounts for 4-10 people and bigger discounts for people with annual hut passes is the way to go to actually encourage their use, plus make every hut bookable. At the moment when I tramp in backcountry huts I, or my group, are 60% of the time the only one(s) there. Greater utilisation of the huts will mean the hut price can at least be less than or equal to a back packers.

#14 Comment By Mike McGavin On 30 March, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

Hi Brent. Thanks for the thoughts and sorry for the late response. Yeah, I find it sad how Great Walks in many ways seem to’ve been alienated from the back-country experience and put out of reach of many locals. (If not by the cost then by the necessity to book in such a way, sometimes months in advance!) I don’t know if I can really comment much on Great Walk details myself though… I’ve only ever walked one (Abel Tasman Coastal).

#15 Comment By David On 16 April, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

I prefer my tent or tarp and bivvy depending on the weather. I can see the rational behind charging for fully serviced huts but object to paying “campsite” fees. And I agree about the great walks. Bunking down with 40 others does nothing for my outdoors experience. AND paying for the pleasure.

#16 Comment By Craig On 17 January, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

Having recently invested in a hut pass after a few years of tramping retirement I am concerned at what appears to be a trend toward excluding some huts from the annual pass system. e.g. Angelus and Welcome Flat, perhaps others? Still a bad precedent if only these two.

Neither of these are on a great walk and neither is privately owned. Any idea as to what criteria is used to exclude some huts from the annual system just because more people walk past?

Pre-booking is fine if the hut is your destination. The hut is never my destination. Its all about the journey for me, and sometimes it is a long journey. Hard to book Angelus Hut for a precise night for example if you begin at Lewis Pass.

Even with a hut pass, I still prefer to camp providing it is not storm conditions, where camping while feasible isn’t so pleasant.

#17 Comment By Mike McGavin On 19 January, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

G’day Craig. If you check out [20] it gives a fair representation of most of the places where they’re using it outside Great Walks. (Not everything in the list is huts or groups of huts, it includes things like Kapiti Island permits.)

I agree but I’m not sure what the answer is for huts that are so popular, unless it’s to tell people outright that they simply can’t book and that they might need to be prepared to stay outside no matter what. And true enough that was the way until now… I guess DoC’s catering to people who like predictability of knowing where they’ll stay and who don’t like to risk being crunched in with too many other stuffy smelly people. I’m concerned that being able to book some of these huts may give some people a false sense of security, as if they don’t need to carry their own shelter regardless. There’s already too much of that attitude around and it risks encouraging it further.

And yes, it sucks that regular tickets and the hut pass are de-valued through this, and I’ve noticed people grumbling about it in other forums, especially when so many of the alternative huts are also under threat of removal. I think it’ll be interesting to watch what comes from the hybrid booking system that the Wairarapa Conservancy is trialing for the Holdsworth-Jumbo loop, letting people book a bed for priority if they like, but still allowing others to show up without a booking, at the risk of being demoted to the floor, or whatever. There still doesn’t seem to be much there to dissuade people from booking out all the beds in the huts at a fairly low price, then not bothering to show up.

In hindsight I was miffed that DoC’s accountant either couldn’t or wouldn’t differentiate between expenses for huts on the ticket system and huts on the booking system. Saying that $16.5 million was spent on “all huts” it nearly useless in understanding what fraction of that was spent on huts being predominantly funded by the $1.3 million from the ticket and pass system, given that Great Walk huts and the several other booked huts are likely very blown out in proportion for how expensive they are to operate. I s’pose it complicates matters that some huts are on different systems depending on the time of year, but I have trouble imagining that most booked huts would be paid for by anything other than the expensive pre-booked ticket revenue.

#18 Comment By Mike McGavin On 23 January, 2012 @ 11:05 am

David Round’s Presidents’ Column [21] might be an interesting relevant read. It seems to mark the last time that DoC tried to strip rights from hut passes. At that time, DoC wanted to do away with nightly hut tickets, shift to more expensive hut passes backed up with photo ID, remove pass discounts for affiliated organisations, and make the hut passes only usable in basic huts — not any alpine huts, nor any serviced hus (which would require a separate “facilities use pass”. T’was before my time, but I suppose it didn’t get pushed through successfully to the threatened extent on that occasion.

#19 Comment By Allan Thomas On 18 March, 2017 @ 7:19 pm

Make overseas trampers pay a $100 fine if caught in a hut without a hut pass, that way they would more likely pay for a pass. I’ve tramped all my life & the amount of overseas folk now using the huts is increasing so an obvious source of money , so fines is the way to go to get compliance.

#20 Comment By Mike McGavin On 30 March, 2017 @ 11:30 am

Thanks for the feedback, Allan. How would you enforce it?