Thursday, 27 March 2014

Elitism of our National Parks

This may challenge a few friends but I hope it creates discussion, which is healthy!

What has raised my heckles recently has been all the talk around the light rail into the eastern Fiordland area and further prompted by a Trekking Company owner complaining that the Heaphy Track now has a permanent mountain biking season. More lately extending the Hollyford Road through to Haast

In New Zealand we are very lucky that approximately 25% of our land mass is National Parks and Reserves. When you talk with people about why we have National Parks, their general answer is along the lines of "preserving an area of wilderness for future generations", which I don't disagree with.

I have had the pleasure of guiding people in our Parks and taken that opportunity to not only show them the sights but also to educate them. I have also had the pleasure of visiting other National Parks in other parts of the world.

One observation I would make, is that most people stand on the edge of our National Parks and look in ...

I have often thought why don't people venture further ... some can't maybe they have a disability ... maybe it is a fitness issue or the lack of technical skills. Why should they be disadvantaged in viewing/experiencing something special

When we look at areas and tracks which have large numbers go through i.e. The Abel Tasman Walking Track and Sea Kayaking, the Tongariro Crossing, they don't require huge degrees of fitness or technical skills ... are there ways of improving these experiences and the number of them so more people can experience our unique wilderness.

Could a monorail be a clean and viable option to allow more people to access the internal parts of parks, could a road through the Hollyford Valley or Karamea to Golden Bay.

What if they were only one way?
What if the numbers were limited each day?
What if they could only travel on supplied transport?

When I visited Denali National Park in Alaska which has one road accessing the centre, you purchased a bus ticket, the buses left every twenty minutes and you could get on and off them when ever you wanted, my experience was brilliant!

On the Grand Canyon, even this narrow corridor where every one travels in the same direction, this enhanced the experience as most people/groups are moving at the same speed. That you don't pass people opposite direction helps ... you seem to be travelling in your own space.

I hope that those who have the fitness, the specialist skills, the time to visit these unique places take the time to consider how they can share these with everyone. As they are being held on behalf of everyone thus all should be able to access.

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