Overcrowding at the Dart Hut in recent years has prompted the
Department of Conservation (Doc) to look at introducing a
hut-booking system for the Rees-Dart Track.
Doc Glenorchy visitor assets programme manager Richard
Kennett said in the past few years, hikers had been spending
two nights at the Dart Hut so they could tackle side trips
down the Cascade Saddle.
On the busiest night of the 2010-11 season, 69 people slept
inside the 32-bunk hut.
"Increasing use over the last few summers means we have to do
something to manage the pressure on things like the septic
system and the risk to people from an accidental hut fire, as
well as the overall visitor experience."
The recently reviewed 2011 Mt Aspiring National Park
Management Plan did not allow for an increase in the number
of huts on the track, or an increase in the size of the Dart
Hut, Mr Kennett said.
Instead, Doc was proposing to manage the risk and the visitor
experience by adding all three huts on the Rees-Dart circuit
to Doc's national visitor booking system from January 3 to
February 28 each year, beginning in January 2013.
The Rees-Dart track is the first multi-day walk outside of
the Great Walks proposed to be added to the booking system.
"We are conscious of unexpected delays due to poor weather
and swollen rivers and people coming over Cascade Saddle, so
our hut-booking operations will include a measure of
flexibility for these situations," Mr Kennett said.
Doc had an established hut-booking system on other tracks in
the region, including the Routeburn, Milford and Kepler
Tickets would be bought either online or at Doc Visitor
Centres. Hut fees would remain the same, $15 for an adult and
$5 for a youth a night.
"Including the Rees-Dart Track on the national visitor
booking system is a simple way to manage the current demand.
"It doesn't result in any new permanent infrastructure and
can be reviewed if demand decreases," Mr Kennett said.
Feedback on the proposal should be emailed to email@example.com by January 13,