Visitors flocked to Wairarapa outdoors this summer

According to a visitor insights report released by DOC in April many DOC huts across the country were at or near capacity over the summer weekends.

In the Wairarapa, Powell Hutt averaged 29 people every Saturday night between 1 December 2020 and 28 February. Jumbo and Atiwhakatu huts averaged 17 and 23 people respectively on Saturdays for the same period. That equates to 91% capacity for Powell Hutt and 87% capacity for both Jumbo and Atiwhakatu.

“DOC works to support and encourage people to get out into nature, so it’s fantastic to see people making the most of our beautiful backyard this past summer,” says Wairarapa Senior Ranger, Sean Rudman.

The increase in visitors led to a 39% increase in revenue (between 1 July 2020 and 30 April 2021) on the previous year across DOC’s most popular destinations: Mount Holdsworth, the Pinnacles and Waiohine Gorge. This includes accommodation fees from huts, campgrounds and lodges at these sites.

Mount Holdsworth Campground Caretaker, Eric Barber, says that in the five years he has been based at Holdsworth this has been his busiest summer by far.

“It’s just been huge. There was a lot more people, a lot more families and a lot more people where it was their first-time camping.

“Many were locals, but there were more visitors than I’ve met before from further afield. Certainly there were a lot more from Wellington and even Palmerston North as the Otaki Forks road closure limited camping on the Kapiti side.”

Eric says that overall visitor behaviour at the Holdsworth campground this summer was really good.

“Holdsworth is renown to be a great family friendly place to stay. Having a caretaker living on site is a draw card for families that want to have a good time without other campers keeping young kids awake at night.”

Eric does his rounds every night to collect campsite fees and chat to the campers. Many are surprised that he has an eftpos machine because there is no cellphone coverage at the campground.

“My little machine been the best thing for campers and DOC in today’s cashless society. Next time you’re heading out to stay at Holdsworth no need to rush to the money machine and get out cash. Just bring your card along with you.”

Sean Rudman says the biggest issue caused by the influx of trampers in the Tararuas over the summer season was rubbish.

“We found a significant amount of rubbish in the toilet tanks at Atiwhakatu which limits how much they can hold and means we’re emptying toilets more often, at a large cost.”

Sean would like to remind trampers to be prepared to ‘pack in, pack out’ when they are heading out into the bush.

“That means you carry all of your litter out with you, even food scraps. Food scraps can take years to break down and they feed predators like rats, stoats and mice. Help protect our native wildlife by packing away your rubbish,” says Sean.

Make your trip easier by minimising the amount of waste you produce. When you’re packing remove food packaging and pack food and other supplies into reusable containers. Take a bag or a container that you can use to store your rubbish.

There are still plenty of opportunities to get into nature over the colder months. DOC’s seasonal web page includes options and safety information including top tips to stay safe and be prepared.

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