Keeping track users safe the goal of new videos

Trampers on the Gillespie Pass Circuit, in Mt Aspiring National Park. PHOTO: NZ MOUNTAIN SAFETY...
Trampers on the Gillespie Pass Circuit, in Mt Aspiring National Park. PHOTO: NZ MOUNTAIN SAFETY COUNCIL
Two new safety videos released today aim to reduce the number of fatalities and search and rescue missions on two popular Queenstown Lakes walking tracks.

The videos, focusing on the Gillespie Pass Circuit, in Mt Aspiring National Park, and the Rees-Dart Circuit, in the Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, are two of seven produced by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC).

They are designed to better prepare walkers and trampers before they set off this summer.

The tracks were selected after MSC analysed safety data, which revealed each one had had preventable safety incidents which could be reduced by the use of targeted safety videos.

The Gillespie Pass Circuit is a 56km, three-to-four day circuit near Makarora.

The track’s popularity had increased over the past decade, which had led to increasing incident rates, particularly of river-crossing drownings, in which three people had died, MSC said.

On the Rees-Dart Circuit in the nine years to 2019, there were 36 SAR callouts and one fatality .

The challenging multi-day trip includes the "highly exposed and challenging Cascade Saddle Route", which MSC also had a tramping safety video for.

The new safety videos took film teams 22 days to shoot, during which time they covered more than 250km, carrying tens of kilograms of filming equipment.

The end products highlight common risks and hazards on the tracks, outline key decision-making points and offer guidance on walking times, essential clothing and gear items, and important weather factors, as well as other track-specific advice.

They add to an already established collection of 12 videos MSC released in 2018 - those videos and the associated impact research won the "insights communication" award at the Research Association’s Effectiveness Awards this year.

MSC chief executive Mike Daisley said independent research done to assess the impact of the first videos "very clearly" showed walkers and trampers who watched them before they set off were "far safer".

"They have better awareness of the hazards, key decisions they will need to make, and we could see a profound improvement in their safety-related behaviour changes," he said.

Mr Daisley said MSC worked closely with the Department of Conservation, police, local LandSAR volunteers, the MetService, the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association and other track groups and organisations.

Other tracks featured in the new videos are the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail or Pinnacles Walk (Coromandel), the Tararua Southern Crossing (Wellington/Wairarapa), the Alpine Route and Red Hills (Tasman/Marlborough), the Mt Somers Track (Canterbury) and Copland Valley (Westland).

The videos are available in the new Plan My Walk app, on the Mountain Safety Council’s YouTube channel and will soon be on the Doc and MetService websites, among others.

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