Travelling Under the Social Influence

28/01/2021

Friends waited for more than half an hour for that classic photo overlooking Lake Wanaka from Roys Peak which features near the start of this video.


5 Waitaki wonders

02/01/2021

Tourism Waitaki highlights five of the District’s wonders:

Air NZ recently took to our crystal clear skies to find the 8th wonder of the world within Aotearoa.

The Moeraki Boulders got a shout out so we thought we’d divulge a little more information on the many wonders of the Waitaki, just as Antipater of Sidon did in the 2nd century B.C. creating the first wonders of the world list as a guide for tourists in the ancient world.

While only one of the original wonders of the world still exists, these five destinations on our list have all withstood the test of time.

They’re all part of the Vanished World trail within the aspiring Waitaki Whitestone Geoparkand are perfect spots to visit this summer:

1. The Moeraki Boulders

Alien eggs, giant gobstoppers, the Stonehenge of New Zealand—however you refer to the spherical boulders they’re a mysterious must-see!

According to Maori legend, the Arai-te-uru canoe, one of the earliest to reach the South Island crashed on the golden shores of Shag Point, casting the food baskets into the sea, and they washed ashore along a stretch of Koekohe beach where they still exist today, as the Moeraki boulders.

Formed around 60 million years ago, each boulder started life as a pebble or fossil on an ancient sea floor. Over time, the boulders grew into spherical wonders by mud accretion and calcification.

Some of these boulders weigh several tonnes and the most impressive are over two metres wide so don’t even think about bringing one of these onto your Air NZ flights. 

2. Valley of the Whales

With steep limestone walls either side of you, standing in the Valley of the Whales you can almost imagine you’re at the bottom of the world. All along the Awamoko stream that weaves through the lush country land here, the bones and remains of ancient marine creatures, including sea urchins, dolphins, and rare whales can be found.

You’re likely to see more than you expected at this underrated site.

3. Elephant Rocks

You won’t see any actual Elephants roaming the plains south of Duntroon. Nor, are there fossilised remains of the delightful pachyderm. You’ll have to use your imagination!

The large mass of weathered limestone scattered across the grassy fields look like strange creatures made of stone.

There is some debate about which ones resemble the humble elephant…

4. Anatini

Millions of years ago, Anatini was at the bottom of the sea, and now the curious limestone outcrops and caves that remain make the perfect locale for a picnic, 400 metres above sea level.

The name Anatini stems from Maori meaning many caves, and yes there is a lot to explore throughout the sheltered valley.

Hide and seek could last a long time here. Fossils can be spotted in the limestone, including the main drawcard, the partially exposed remains of a baleen whale, which has been placed under plexiglass to ensure its protection.

5. Paritea Clay Cliffs

The striking landforms of the Paritea Clay Cliffs were originally formed as gravels, sands and silt in fresh water lakes and rivers.

The sediments, which were deposited around 20 million years ago, were over time buried and compressed, then uplifted and eroded.

Standing in the heart of the canyon surrounded by sharp pinnacles and steep ravines you’ll feel a flourish within your souls, awe-struck, and possibly feel quite small.

If you want to see photos of these sites, click on the links.


Bubble babble

14/12/2020

When a joint media release from two Prime Ministers is headlined next steps towards quarantine-free travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand you’d expect it to be about progress. Instead we get this:

. . . Both Prime Ministers and their Cabinets have instructed officials to continue working together to put in place all measures required to safely recommence two-way quarantine-free travel in the first quarter of 2021. . . 

This bubble babble is sadly typical of the PM and her government who so often mistake media releases for action.

It means no more than a continuation of what’s been happening and progress towards opening the borders is far too slow:

The Cook Islands bubble is taking far too long to set up, there is no reason why it shouldn’t already be in place, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Today’s announcement of ‘next steps’ in travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand is an utterly meaningless statement that does no more than repeat that officials are still working on the issue.

“The Prime Minister must explain the delay when a month ago she said there was ‘progress’ and that it would only take ‘a couple of weeks’ before a bubble would be up and running once both sides were happy. . .

“New Zealand officials have been and returned from the Cook Islands, although even that trip was delayed and far later than it should have been.

“The Cooks are heavily dependent on tourism, from New Zealand in particular. Pre-Covid, tourism made up 85 per cent of GDP. Getting the bubble up and running should be a high priority as it will help save jobs and livelihoods in our Pacific neighbour.

“New Zealanders and the Cook Islands need answers from the Government as to why it’s taking so long. A tepid statement that officials are working towards quarter one next year is meaningless given statements in the past.

“‘Quarter one’ could easily mean late March, which even assuming nothing goes wrong, is months away. In the meantime we’re going to see businesses fall under and both Kiwis and Cook Islanders lose their jobs. The Government needs to get on with the job immediately.

“The Government should release a copy of the ‘arrangement to facilitate quarantine-free between the Cook Islands and New Zealand’ so that all parties know what the requirements are.”

The Cooks are Covid-free and there is no community transmission in New Zealand. Why the glacial pace for opening the borders?

The bubble babble about opening the border to travellers from Australia is even worse. Steven Joyce dissects them:

. . . The Prime Minister’s reasons for further delay, as reported in the Herald yesterday, are ridiculously weak. There were basically three of them. Let’s take them in turn.

The PM is reportedly concerned that Australia could have a looser definition of a Covid flare-up than New Zealand. It seems like there is an easy solution to this. New Zealand retains sovereign control over its borders and the Government could reinstate a quarantine requirement at any time. Having a bubble doesn’t mean always agreeing with Australia’s definition of risk.

The second problem is apparently that having fewer Australians in quarantine facilities would allow more people from other countries at greater risk to come into our quarantine facilities. This would increase the numbers of people in quarantine that could have Covid.

Let’s think about that for a second. Are we really keeping people arriving from Australia in isolation, even though it’s not necessary, in order to reduce the number of people from other countries in quarantine who could have Covid? Seriously?

A lot of those people are New Zealanders who are being forced to queue for MIQ places in order to get back to family, friends and/or work.

An alternative view is that freeing up nearly half of the quarantine facilities currently taken up by travellers from Australia would allow faster processing of critical workers and Kiwis from elsewhere who are currently queuing on the other side of the border. Which would surely be a good thing.

Our biggest risk is people coming in from countries other than Australia who are in MIQ. Putting people from Australia, many of whom would be Kiwis, in MIQ increases the risk they will contract the disease from people in the same hotel.

The third problem identified is what happens to Kiwis already in Australia if we have to close the bubble again. Well, I’m thinking they would then have to use quarantine to come back. Which seems a no-brainer. And if this is an argument for not opening a bubble we will never open one.

That’s pretty much it. The Prime Minister is suggesting that we need to postpone our end of a transtasman bubble till at least February to deal with these supposedly intractable issues, which a competent set of people could solve in roughly five minutes. . . 

Requiring MIQ for Trans-Tasman travellers is splitting families and friends, keeping people from visiting the dying and attending funerals, adding costs and imposing restrictions on businesses. It’s also withholding a lifeline from the beleaguered tourism industry.

Restricting freedom of movement is one of the most serious restraints a government can impose on its people.

Australia has opened its border to travellers from here. The reasons the PM has given for not reciprocating are spurious and the government should address any real issues and open the border from Australia before it goes on holiday.

 


NZ’s quirkiest places – Oamaru, Moeraki, Dunedin

12/12/2020

We only want the wealthy?

19/11/2020

Imagine the uproar if a National or Act minister suggested New Zealand should be the preserve of only wealthy tourists.

. . . Nash said too often ratepayers and taxpayers have picked up the bill of the impact of tourism on infrastructure and the environment.

He said the full cost of tourism needs to be priced into the visitor experience.

“New Zealanders should not be subsidising international visitors to the extent that we have done in the recent past,” he said.

“I have asked officials for innovative solutions to minimise the costs to New Zealanders of tourism. This includes ensuring visitors pay for the privilege of participating in the New Zealand experience.” . . 

Isn’t that what the border tax and GST do?

“We must attract high value and high spending visitors who buy into our own vision of sustainability. We must therefore deliver high quality visitor experiences and exceed our visitors expectations,” he said.

Nash said some freedom campers have abused New Zealanders’ renowned hospitality.

“I firmly believe that the low-spending but high-cost tourist is not the future of our tourism industry.”

He is right about the problem. Some people have abused our hospitality but how would he keep the unwanted ones out?

Drafting out the low spenders as they come in won’t work. It might be possible to find out how much they’ve spent on pre-paid bookings but not how much more they’ll spend while they’re here.

Could he be planning to vet what tourists have spent before they leave the country and charge those who haven’t spent enough? No.

One of the Minister’s plans is to ban vans that aren’t self-contained :

“We get all these vans driving round at the moment that are not self-contained, so if the driver or the passenger wants to go to the toilet – we all know examples of this – they pull over to the side of the road and they shit in our waterways.

People in cars and on bikes can be caught short too even though it’s rare to travel more than an hour or two between public loos. But it’s not those travelling from A to B who have caused most of the problems, it’s the ones who stop and camp where there are no facilities.

“So what I am saying for example is a first cut, these vans that are hired out … we will look at regulations to stop this, you will not be able to hire a van that is not self-contained. . . 

This won’t stop people travelling in cars and pitching tents where they will. Nor will it stop people buying cheap vans to camp in and there will be plenty of them if rental companies are banned from hiring them out.

“What I’m saying is, all our marketing effort will go into high net worth individuals who are looking for a piece of paradise at the moment as they sit in lockdown in New York or London.”

Does he think lower net worth people won’t be exposed to the advertising and be tempted to come too?

There’s no doubt that the steep increase in tourism has had some very unpleasant consequences and some of that was due to freedom campers who didn’t dispose of their rubbish and waste properly.

Some councils tried to mitigate that by providing freedom camping sites but not all those travelling in vehicles that weren’t self-contained used them and camping ground owners were justified in objecting to their rates subsidising their competitors in this way.

The Covid-19 induced collapse in overseas tourism has provided time to work out solutions to the problems caused by freedom campers and the Minister is unlikely to find opposition to his desire to solve them.

But an only-the-wealthy-are-welcome campaign should not be part of the plan.


MIQ needs flexibility

06/11/2020

A lack of capacity in managed isolation is keeping a Sydney-based family from visiting their  terminally ill father.

A New Zealand couple based in Sydney say their newborn baby will not meet his dying grandfather if they cannot find space in a managed isolation facility.

This comes as the Government announced its Managed Isolation Allocation System was fully booked until December 20.

Under new rules, people travelling into New Zealand needed a voucher for a managed isolation facility before boarding a flight to New Zealand. . . 

A friend has a place and will be returning home in a couple of weeks. He doesn’t know where he will have to isolate and is willing to pay more for a higher standard of hotel but that isn’t a choice.

These are just two examples of a system that isn’t as flexible as it needs to be.

The country has paid a very high economic cost to eliminate community transmission of Covid-19. We cannot risk an incursion at the border which means everyone coming in must isolate.

But the risk isn’t the same for everyone.

People returning from countries where Covid-19 is rife pose a much higher risk than those coming from countries which have the disease under control.

The ones from high risk countries should have to stay in managed isolation facilities.

People from low risk countries could be given the option of self-isolating, providing electronic monitoring was feasible and consequences for breaching isolation were high enough to ensure they stayed put.

Everyone coming in is charged for the costs of MIQ which is fair but some, people, like my friend, are willing and able to pay more for a higher standard of accommodation. Others wont be able to afford the $3,100 for the fortnight’s enforced stay and there ought to be a less expensive, but still safe, option for them.

The story of the Sydney-based family with the dying relative won’t be an isolated case and the system must be able to cater for them.

The government has been exhorting us all to be kind.

It must follow its own exhortations and ensure that MIQ has the flexibility to allow compassionate entry for those who need it and a variety of prices for those who can’t afford to pay the standard fee as well as those who would choose to pay more.

 


Waitaki Whitestone Geopark

23/10/2019

Waitaki Whitestone Geopark is seeking to be Australasia’s first Geopark.

This gives a glimpse of some of the attractions:

 


No-one wins when bystanders hurt by strikes

13/12/2018

The threatened strike by Air New Zealand workers has been averted.

Thank goodness.

Had it gone ahead, the strike for three days from next Friday would have disrupted flights for tens of thousands of travellers and a lot of freight.

The threat was enough to cause considerable angst to a lot of people and did the workers’ cause no good.

Any sympathy people might have had for their claims was more than outweighed by the stress and distress over the fears that planned travel for weddings, graduations, reunions, homecomings, work and Christmas was going to be impossible.

Unions do themselves and their workers no favours with these sorts of threats which take those of us old enough to remember back to the bad old days when strikes routinely upset travel plans.

The government must accept part of the blame too, as Barry Soper writes:

If politics is about perception, the perception is that the country’s going to hell in a trade union hand basket.

Parliament’s bear pit was on fire yesterday with the booming Gerry Brownlee lambasting the Government for returning New Zealand to cloth cap control by the unions with Air New Zealand engineers threatening to down tools for three days from December 21 (the strike threat was removed late last night).

National riled the Government saying there are now more strikes than there have been since Jacinda Ardern was at primary school. . .

It’s true when Ardern was at primary school 30 years ago the trade union movement was all powerful and battling a government that made the recent changes to workplace law look like a Sunday school picnic.. . 

Now the muscle is again being flexed and if Labour’s feeling flustered, it’s got itself to blame.

Changes to the way the party selected its leader was taken away from its MPs six years ago and handed over to the party’s membership and its trade union affiliates who have 20 per cent of the vote, with caucus getting 40 and the rest going to paid-up card carriers. . .

Unions don’t only hold the voting power, they are major donors to Labour and they want their reward for that. But they put the government, and any sympathy the public might have for their members, at risk when bystanders are hurt by strikes.

 


$2.63 and rising

08/10/2018

Is this the most expensive petrol in the country?

Regular petrol in Wanaka yesterday cost $2.639, premium was more than $3 and diesel was $1.999.

The lower value of the New Zealand dollar is contributing to the rising price, but so too is the government’s new fuel tax.

It’s supposed to be levied only in Auckland but it’s appears to be spreading throughout the country.

And whether or not the tax is spreading north and south of Auckland, the pain of higher fuel prices is being felt nationwide.

All goods and services have a transport component, when the price of fuel increases, it put pressures on every single thing that is transported.

And the virtue signalling about the environment is cold comfort for those of us who will rarely if ever use Auckland’s public transport and have no public transport available locally.

This will be a tax too far for many people.

A government that talks about caring about child poverty needs to act to reduce the costs their parents can’t avoid.

 


Who gets money from All Blacks’ tours?

04/10/2018

All Blacks’ fans will be paying a high price for World Cup tickets.

Ticket prices for the All Blacks’ pool matches range between $536 for category A down to $134 for category D for the pool opener against South Africa, as well as the matches against Namibia and Italy. The contest against the repechage winner is slightly discounted at between $402 and $93.

Category A tickets comprise the bulk of the main stands running pitchside, while category D is essentially immediately behind the in-goal area.

The quarterfinals are priced the same as the All Blacks’ pool match against South Africa at between $536 and $134, while the semifinals will require you to fork out $938 for a category A tickets and the final $1340. . .

That final price tag is still less than we were quoted for tickets to the All Blacks vs Pumas in Argentina last year.

The first quote came back at several thousands dollars including accommodation in a five-star hotel.

We didn’t need five-star accommodation. The next price for a more modest hotel was still eye-watering.

I suggested another hotel where someone in our group already had a booking so we knew the price. When we subtracted the hotel from the quote that came back we would still have been paying around $1500 for a ticket to the game.

I gave up on trying to get tickets from New Zealand and asked an Argentinean friend to try for us.

She got us good seats for less than $300 – around five times less than the lowest price we were offered through All Black tours in New Zealand.

So who gets the difference between what the tickets cost and what fans are charged after costs and a reasonable profit are taken off?

 


Travellers’ time saved

26/08/2018

Departure cards for international travellers are being scrapped:

Travellers currently fill out a total of 6.5 million departure cards each year.

But Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri said the cards are no longer needed to account for all people crossing the New Zealand border.

She said they now have smarter systems which can identify information and travel movements electronically.

“Information captured by the departure cards is now mainly used for statistical purposes,” Ms Whaitiri said.

“Stats NZ has developed an alternative way to produce migration and tourism statistics, based on actual movements rather than passengers’ stated intentions on the departure cards.” . . 

The requirement to fill out cards will be end in November.

The Government says it will save more than 100,000 hours of time and allow a faster and smoother process.

Each time I’ve passed through the electronic passport control I’ve wondered why there is still a requirement to fill in a departure card.

There isn’t any longer which will save travellers’ time and ought to also save the time and money that has been spent on processing them.


Wool best to beat perma-stink

24/07/2018

Scientists have proved what wool fans know – merino wool is the best fabric to beat the perma-stink:

When Rachel McQueen’s husband was training for a marathon, she noticed the smell emanating from his running clothes was much stronger and lingered longer in his polyester tops than if he had run in a merino wool top.

“I was repulsed,” said the textile scientist. Even freshly laundered, her husband’s running tops still stunk. “The smell was as strong as if they had just been worn and I realized you can get perma-stink.”

McQueen, who has made it her mission to find the causes of perma-stink, conducted a study in which she compared the relationship between and different fabrics. She had male volunteers wear test T-shirts, which had swatches of polyester, cotton and stitched to the underarm regions. They wore the shirts for two consecutive days and then the swatches were removed for testing. Smell tests using sensors were conducted on each after one day, seven days and 28 days of storage.

“Polyester was by the far the most odorous,” she said. “Wool was the least smelly, and cotton was low to medium.”

The chemical odour-binding sites within fibres are key in determining the stink level, so McQueen focused her attention on the chemical makeup of fibres and how it affects odour retention.

She found that wool and cotton are hydrophilic and absorb more water than polyester.

“Wool is a fibre with an amorphous structure,” explained McQueen. “It has open spaces and is more porous than a synthetic fibre, so it can absorb a lot of sweat.”

That means that if odour molecules are trapped within wool or cotton, we can’t smell them as readily as we can with polyester, which has fewer chemical odour-binding sites.

To keep perma-stink at bay while being active, McQueen suggests the following:

Choose fabrics that have higher cotton or wool content.

“People are generally attuned to their own body odour. If you’re concerned, go with natural fibres,” said McQueen.

Wool went out of fashion, but the development of machine washable merino brought it back and its popularity has been enhanced by its environmental credentials.

Concerns over tiny particles of plastic from synthetic clothing getting to the ocean in washing water is turning the tide back to natural fabrics.

It’s a rare day when I don’t wear at least one layer of merino, it’s my preferred choice for exercising and I always wear it when travelling.

It’s warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot and, as science has proved, it’s the best to beat the perma-stink.


#getnzonthemap

07/05/2018

100%PureNZ is running a campaign to #getnzonthemap.

We found a map in Asunción, Paraguay last year and did out best to put New Zealand back where it belongs:


Careless campers country-wide problem

26/01/2018

Queenstown Lakes is banning freedom campers from two areas after continuing problems with rubbish and human waste left behind.

Announcing the measures yesterday, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said his council would take a harder line against illegal freedom camping in areas such as Wanaka’s lakefront.

The measures, which will be put into place as soon as practicable, were a response to significant growth in freedom camping in the district this summer, Mr Boult said.

Enforcement alone was not enough, and the council had resolved to “take a harder stand”.

“These pressure points are seeing overcrowding, risks to public health due to human waste, and potential damage to our environment with people bathing and washing dishes or clothes in the lakes or rivers.”

Parts of the district were also being used like a “giant toilet”. . .

The council would also lobby the Government to put much more funding into building public toilet facilities, and providing more remote freedom camping sites throughout the district.

Too few public facilities is a major contributor to the problem and small councils with lots of tourists don’t have the rating base to fund loos in all the places where they’re needed.

The previous government introduced a fund councils could apply to for tourist infrastructure, much more is needed.

He would also be talking to ministers about reviewing the low hurdle required for meeting “self-contained” criteria for toilets in vehicles. . .

The only acceptable criteria for a ‘self-contained” toilet is those built-in ones in camper vans.

Councils can fine people camping where they shouldn’t be, but only about 20% of fines issued to freedom campers in the Waitaki District have been paid.

Fines totalling $17,000 were issued to freedom campers across the district. Of the infringement notices issued, each for $200, 15 ($3000) had been paid while 58 ($11,600) were outstanding.

The remaining 12, worth $2400, had been withdrawn…

The solution to this would be to make vehicle owners responsible for any fines. That way rental companies would have to pay and then get the money from the people hiring from them which is, I think, what happens with parking fines.

Another contributor to problems caused by careless campers is different rules from different councils in different areas.

Careless campers are a country-wide problem that needs a country-wide solution.

That will include more public facilities, clearer rules, and better education on what is and isn’t acceptable.

Defecation in public is the norm in some countries, visitors must be left with no doubt that they can’t pooh in public places here.


Never seen anyone crash well

08/01/2018

THe New Zealand Transport Agency has launched a new video aimed at speeding drivers:

Enforcement has more to do with reducing harm than it does with issuing tickets and fines. This campaign reminds people that the role of Police is to protect those who use the road.

A big challenge in the area of speed is to stop speeding drivers from continuing to defend their perceived right to speed.

A significant proportion of the driving population still likes to travel at speeds that are too fast for the conditions (both on the open road and around town), posing a risk to themselves and to others who share the roads with them. Every week, 11 people are seriously injured or killed in a speed-related crash, but a substantial portion of our society still doesn’t see the connection between speed and crashes.

Speed is not often the only contributing factor in a crash, but it is a crucial factor in the severity of a crash. Whether involuntary or deliberate, road crashes occur from a range of mistakes but the outcome will be vastly different at different speeds.

The target audience

The new campaign targets competent male drivers aged between 35-60 years, who regularly drive a bit fast and are not keen on being asked to slow down.

They routinely drive at speeds above the limit and travel faster than the traffic around them. They’re confident in their driving ability and the fact that nothing untoward is likely to happen. They recognise that speed can affect the outcome of a crash but don’t see this as an issue they need to concern themselves with.

They want to see less harm on our roads – they’re happy that Police enforce our roads but they believe Police aren’t focusing on the right things; ‘speed isn’t the issue‘. They’re convinced that they themselves are very good drivers; they want Police to stop picking on them and focus on ’the bad drivers who cause crashes’.

Our approach

Recent advertising has aimed to shift speeding drivers’ and the wider public’s attitudes about speed, taking the safe system approach with messages about human fragility and the inevitability of mistakes.

The campaign has a role too in reminding people that reducing violations is also a part of the safe system, and that enforcement may be needed to encourage compliance and ultimately reduce harm.

So, this new campaign aims to get the audience to accept the role of speed enforcement – to understand that the role of the Police is to protect those who use the road by dealing with anything that might cause harm.

It aims to get the audience to see that enforcement has more to do with reducing harm than it does with tickets and fines.

It’s simple physics – the faster the speed, the bigger the mess.

As the officer in the video says, “Everyone thinks they drive well, I’ve never seen anyone crash well.”


In praise of police response

04/01/2018

The radio warned us State Highway 1 would be busy yesterday and as we headed home from Christchurch it was.

However, drivers going in both directions were being careful and considerate.

Then a car came up behind us.

We were at the back of a line of traffic, all travelling at the speed limit. Passing would require a car to go considerably faster and with 10 more cars in front of us little would be achieved.

That didn’t stop the driver behind us who pulled out, overtook and got very close to the next vehicle in front.

The car kept swerving to the right and the left,. We presumed the driver was trying to see if the road ahead was clear.

Eventually it was, as far as we could see but that wasn’t very far which was why there was a long yellow no-passing line.

The yellow line meant nothing to the driver in front who pulled out and passed the next vehicle, pulling back to his side of the road just before the brow of a hill.

Had anyone been coming the other way there would have been a very big mess.

Fortunately there wasn’t but what if there was a next time?

I wasn’t prepared to risk it and rang *555.

My call was answered immediately and dealt with efficiently.

A few kilometres on we saw a police car indicating to pull out. My farmer slowed to allow it to go ahead of us and shortly afterwards we saw its lights flashing in the distance.

When we got closer we saw the vehicle it had stopped wasn’t the one we’d called about.

We stopped, I got out and told the officer we’d called *555 but not about this vehicle.

He rolled off the registration number of the car we’d reported and said they’d had calls about the one he’d stopped too and someone else would be on the look out for the other one.

Traffic police are often criticised as revenue gatherers.

We rarely praise them for keeping roads safer as the officer we saw yesterday was doing but people the length and breadth of the country get home safely because of the work he and his colleagues do and they deserve our thanks.

 


Tougher more consistent rules for freedom campers

27/08/2017

A re-elected National Government will introduce tougher and more consistent freedom camping rules that will protect public spaces and crack down on poor behaviour, Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley say.

“Lots of Kiwis and many of our international visitors love to camp, and they make a large contribution to our tourism industry,” Tourism Spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Freedom campers stay longer and spend more on average than other visitors, but there are now a lot more people freedom camping than there used to be and a small minority don’t treat our roadsides and public spaces with adequate respect.

“Local councils have been asking the government to create more consistent rules and to help them penalise those who break these rules.”

National will:

  • Restrict all non self-contained vehicles to areas that are within easy walking distance – approximately 200 metres – of toilet facilities
  • Continue to allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to ban all freedom camping from certain areas, and extend these powers to LINZ and the NZTA to ensure Crown-owned land can also be restricted. The areas could be as small as a certain street or as large as a whole town centre
  • Allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to issue instant fines for those who break the rules. If the fine can’t be paid on the spot, it will be assigned to the vehicle owner, including rental car companies

Assigning the fine to the vehicle owner will incentivise rental companies to explain he rules and the importance of adhering to them to travellers.

“We will also create a new smartphone app to show exactly where people can and cannot camp, and ensure consistent public signage across the country to ensure freedom campers know their rights and responsibilities,” Local Government Spokesperson Anne Tolley says.

“Our changes will not affect trampers, campers and hunters who enjoy our back country areas as they are not considered freedom campers.

“We want responsible campers to continue enjoying the best of what New Zealand has to offer and add to the $380 million a year they currently spend in our regions.

“These sensible changes, which build on those we made ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, will make the rules much easier to follow, and will still give Councils the flexibility to make rules that suit their communities alongside a simple way to punish those who break the rules with bad behaviour.”

This is a very good move.

Freedom campers in self-contained vehicles – providing they use their on-board loos and dispose of rubbish properly – don’t usually cause problems.

But people in vehicles which range from cars to camper vans without loos, do. Wayside parking areas have become littered with human waste and the problem of people defecating where they shouldn’t isn’t confined to the countryside.

A friend in Wanaka stepped in human pooh outside his gate when he went to get his paper in the morning. Another morning he saw someone who’d slept in his car walk out of the garden on the other side of the road, hitching up his trousers as he did so.

Tourism is good for the economy but the environmental and health costs are too high when travellers turn anywhere they stop into toilets.

Our tougher rules for freedom camping will protect public spaces & crack down on poor behaviour #PartyVoteNational #Delivering4NZers


There and then, here and now

21/07/2017

This time last week we were in Noosa.

The locals thought it was cold but 20 – 24 degrees suited us perfectly for four days of walking, biking and reading.

That was there and then.

Here and now we’re back home and the forecasters were right:

Today, Friday 21/07/2017
Time Forecast Temp. Precipitation Wind
09:00–12:00
Heavy rain.
17.3 mm Near gale, 14 m/s from south-southwestNear gale, 14 m/s from south-southwest
12:00–18:00
Heavy rain.
27.8 mm Near gale, 16 m/s from southNear gale, 16 m/s from south
18:00–00:00
Heavy rain.
29.9 mm Near gale, 15 m/s from southNear gale, 15 m/s from south
Tomorrow, Saturday 22/07/2017
Time Forecast Temp. Precipitation Wind
00:00–06:00
Heavy rain.
19.2 mm Near gale, 14 m/s from southNear gale, 14 m/s from south
06:00–12:00
Heavy rain.
10.0 mm Near gale, 14 m/s from south-southwestNear gale, 14 m/s from south-southwest
12:00–18:00
Light rain.
0.7 mm Strong breeze, 13 m/s from south-southwestStrong breeze, 13 m/s from south-southwest
18:00–00:00
Cloudy.
0 mm Fresh breeze, 10 m/s from south-southwestFresh breeze, 10 m/s from south-southwest
Sunday, 23/07/2017
Time Forecast Temp. Precipitation Wind
00:00–06:00
Partly cloudy.
0 mm Moderate breeze, 6 m/s from west-southwestModerate breeze, 6 m/s from west-southwest
06:00–12:00
Fair.
0 mm Light breeze, 3 m/s from west-northwestLight breeze, 3 m/s from west-northwest
12:00–18:00
Fair.
0 mm Light breeze, 3 m/s from north-northwestLight breeze, 3 m/s from north-northwest
18:00–00:00
Clear sky.
0 mm Gentle breeze, 4 m/s from northGentle breeze, 4 m/s from north

It’s not perfect timing for the calves which have started to arrive.

Here’s hoping the forecasters are right that it will be improving by Sunday.

P.S. – that forecast is from YR, a Norwegian service which we’ve found to be very accurate.


Cycleway success

05/07/2017

Are the cycle trails delivering the jobs and economic benefits they promised?

The 83km Timber Trail, which runs between Pureora and Ongarue in the King Country, was one of the earlier trails to be completed, in 2013.

Last year 6500 people rode the trail – and many used the services of Paul Goulding’s Epic Cycle Adventures.

“We started off three-and-a-half years ago with a van, a trailer and four bicycles, and now we’ve got three vans [and] 40-odd bicycles,” Mr Goulding says.

“Business is about 40 percent up each year, so … we are very optimistic.” . .

The Central Otago Rail Trail shows the potential from cycleway.

It took time for people to realise the opportunities for the provision of accommodation, food and other goods and services but the trail now brings thousands of visitors and their money to remote rural communities.

It has brought life to dying towns and provided off-farm income for people on previously isolated properties.

This is being replicated in other parts of the country as new cycleway take off.

One of the more recent success stories is the Alps 2 Ocean cycleway which starts near Mount Cook and finishes in Oamaru.

Not all the trail is off road yet and there are long stretches where people have yet to seize the opportunities to feed, water, accommodate service and sell to the cyclists and their support crews.

But even in its infancy the trail is attracting thousands of cyclists and will host the sold-out Alps 2 Ocean Ultra next summer.

Here’s an appetiser for the trail:


Gibraltar tensions

06/04/2017

An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar in 1704 during the War of Spanish Succession and  Spain ceded it to Great Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

It’s still a British Overseas Territory on Spain’s south coast dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge.

That rock can be seen easily from a good distance away an ever-present reminder to Spain of  Britain’s possession of the territory.

Gibraltar is only 6.7 km2   in area but is strategically placed. In World War II it provided a base from which the Royal Navy controlled exit and entry to the Mediterranean Sea and half the world’s seaborne trade passes through the strait today.

Tensions over Gibraltar have risen again now the European Union offered Spain a right of veto over the future relationship between Gibraltar and the EU after Brexit.

A significant majority of the 32,000 people who live in the territory have repeatedly voted overwhelmingly both for their own autonomy and to reject any sharing of sovereignty with Spain. But that doesn’t stop Spain’s ambition to reclaim the territory.

Spain may very well return to the days when it effectively embargoed Gibraltar, denying easy access to tourists and forcing residents to rely on air links to Great Britain to run their economy. The bureaucrats in Brussels frankly may also cheer on Spain’s punishment of the population and economy of Gibraltar as a means to signal its annoyance with Great Britain for turning its back on the European experiment.

Spain, however, is playing with fire and risks creating a precedent which will burn it several times over. Here’s the problem:

While Spain might object to Great Britain maintaining sovereignty over a 2.6 square mile territory which Madrid sees as its own, Spain has its own enclaves on the Mediterranean carved out of what should be, but for historical accidents of centuries past, sovereign Moroccan territory.

Ceuta is only seven square miles. In 1415, the Portuguese captured Ceuta and, during the next century when Portugal and Spain briefly united, Spaniards flocked to the city. The 1668 Treaty of Lisbon formally ceded Ceuta to Spain to whom it has belonged ever since. Spain, along with France, was a colonial power in Morocco but, in 1956 when Spain withdrew from northern Morocco (it would leave the Western Saharan in 1975), it continued to hold Ceuta.

Melilla, only 4.7 square miles, has a similar history. Spain conquered the city in 1497 and rebuffed subsequent Moroccan political and diplomatic efforts to win it back. Spain may consider it an autonomous territory but, it reality, it is a colonial outpost and an accident of history.

Spain may seek advantage from Brexit going forward in order to reclaim Gibraltar; that’s Madrid’s prerogative. However, so long as Spain continues to hold Ceuta and Melilla, instead of allowing an extension of Moroccan sovereignty, then Spain and the European Union’s case will be both hypocritical and weak.

Our first visit to Gibraltar was prompted by a desire to watch the touring Lions play Otago in 2005. We were living in Vejer de la Frontera, a village in Andalusia on the Costa de la Luz, where the locals favour football and we thought  Gibraltar would be the nearest place where people would be watching rugby.

It’s connected to Spain by a narrow isthmus on which Gibraltar airport is built.

We followed the advice of locals that it’s easier to enter the territory than face the queues when driving and once through customs and immigration we walked across the tarmac to the town.

Our first impressions weren’t positive.

The town was full of high-rise apartments that looked like they’d been designed in England with no appreciation of the Mediterranean climate.

However, the locals were friendly and we had no trouble finding a pub that would be showing the rugby next morning. The locals became friendlier still when the Lions won.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the rock, meeting the Barbary Macaques and learning about the military history including the WW II tunnels.

 

Legend has it that Britain will lose control of the territory if the apes die out. This was the seed from which Paul Gallico wrote his book Scruffy.

Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven includes a more realistic and harrowing story of war in Gibraltar.

 

 

 


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