Showing posts with label Trip Planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trip Planning. Show all posts

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Tramping Theory: Following Leave No Trace principles in the outdoors

"...take only photos, leave only foot prints..."

I have a keen interest in nature and the environment so I thought it would be a good idea to discuss how I incorporate environmental concerns into my tramping. To that end I practice the principles of Leave No Trace while out in the back-country.

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:

Lets have a look at Leave No Trace and discus how it impacts my style of outdoor adventures

What is Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is an ethical framework which provides us with a way of interacting with nature. The movement started in the United States in the 1990's but has since spread to various  areas of the globe. The framework is based on the realisation that the environment is fragile and under increasing pressure from mankind, we as outdoors people must all play our part in preserving it.

Irish version of the Leave No Trace principles
Leave No Trace means engaging with nature in its natural state, not altering it to suit your own purpose.Obviously there are few if any places around the world mankind has not impacted in some fashion. Following the Leave No Trace guidelines mean we can minimise our individual and collective impact on the extant environment.

The seven principles of Leave No Trace theory:

Leave No Trace has seven guiding principles, these are meant to shape the actions of practitioners while in the back-country. They promote a sustainable way to co exist within nature. 

These seven principles are:

Principle 1: Plan ahead and prepare

Principle 2: Travel and camp on durable surfaces

Principle 3: Dispose of waste properly

Principle 4: Leave what you find

Principle 5: Minimise camp-fire impacts

Principle 6: Respect wildlife & farm animals

Principle 7: Be considerate to other visitors

My approach to Leave No Trace

While I am no expert on Leave No Trace I have made a conscious effort to incorporate the seven principles into all of my outdoor activities. I also talk to people about the principles to disseminate the information as widely as possible. This is an approach we can all easily incorporate, together we can work to change everyone's attitudes.

Jon in his natural environment...

 Here are a few photos demonstrating aspects of the seven principles of Leave No Trace and how they impact on the environment.

First up...if you are camping try to camp on a durable surface like rock, sand or mineral dirt. If there is a pre-existing camp-site on these type of surfaces use it. Rather than damaging virgin bush use one of the over 200 DOC camp-sites scattered around the country.

One of the nearly 200 DOC camp-sites in New Zealand: Torrent Bay Camp-site, Abel Tasman NP

My Luxe tent set up in the established camp site at Cowshed Bay, Marlborough

Plan and prepare your itinerary and gear before undertaking any outdoor adventure. In the Army we had a saying Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance- if you plan thoroughly your performance in the outdoors will be much better. The Mountain Safety Council has a wealth of resources on planning a trip into the outdoors.

Plan thoroughly to prevent accidents...
Always, always pack out what you have packed in, do not leave litter in the natural environment. Don't burn plastics in a camp fire or wood burner. If you have space take any rubbish you find with you. Trying to minimise the packaging you use is also a good general method of environmental care.

Lucky Jon carrying the rubbish bag...

If you must start a fire make sure it is on a durable surface like rock, sand or bare mineral earth. If a pre-existing fire ring or fireplace is available please use it, try to avoid a multitude of ugly fire circles.

Firing up the billy on sand minimises its long term visual impact...
...or use an existing fire pit!

 Better still, forget about that fire and use a small embers, no smoke and no trace left behind!

Brew time on the bed of the Blue Grey River, Victoria FP in 2016

If you find some kind of historic structure or artefact please respect its scientific, cultural and historic values and leave it in place! Often its importance is tied to the location...removing it or vandalising it devalues its worth. This is especially important for Maori artefacts...they represent the history of their people and should never be touched.

Historic boat wrecks, Quail Island, Banks Peninsula

When I'm out tramping I stay on the tracks whenever possible, obviously this is not always possible but if there is a choice between track or virgin bush always use the track. Do not go around muddy spots on a track, doing so will encourage others and widen the track.

Following the St James Walkway in 2015, nice dry track, use the stiles and bridges provided
A muddy track...go through it not around it!

You should avoid building shelters in the outdoors unless it is an emergency. Moving the materials for these shelters can damage the local ecology by removing a natural home/food source and are visually offensive. If you must build a shelter make sure you return the materials to their original location afterwards.

Don't build shelters of natural materials unless absolutely necessary!

In New Zealand we do not have a lot of the larger mammals you find in other back-country regions of the world. Therefore our interactions with them are limited.

St James wild of the few large wild animals we have in New Zealand!

What we do have are birds...when you are out on your adventures ensure you interact with our native birds in a careful and responsible manner. Do not feed them, do not interfere with them and respect their boundaries.

Kea or New Zealand Mountain Parrot at Arthur's Pass...don't feed them!
A Weka or native Wood-hen, fearless scavengers of human detritus

When you are tramping do so in either a small group or solo. Large groups are far more likely to disturb any resident wildlife as well as causing greater cumulative damage to the flora they pass.

Tramping in a small group is less invasive to the environment

Educate yourself about the Leave No Trace principles and try to put them into use whenever you are in the outdoors.

Final thoughts on Leave No Trace

At heart I am an environmentalist, I believe that man is the most dangerous threat to the natural world. Nature is to be enjoyed but we must strive to minimise our impact upon it. For that reason I wholeheartedly approve the Leave No Trace framework.

Waimakiriri River Valley...the type of rugged beauty we are trying to preserve

When I am in the back-country I put these seven guiding principles into practical use at all times.  I would rather expend a bit more effort than deprive future generations of the right to experience the majesty of mother nature.

Me enjoying quiet commune with nature, Travers-Sabine Circuit 2018

If you would like more information about the Leave No Trace movement then check out the Leave No Trace website or look for a related programme in your local area. There are also many educational courses available which will allow you to educate others about the principles of Leave No Trace, check your local University, Polytechnic or Outdoor education provider.

The next time you go tramping I would urge you to follow the general principles of Leave No Trace, play your own small part in preserving our natural environment.

...take only photos, leave only footprints!

Useful Links: Leave No Trace

Here are some links that you may find useful:

Department of Conservation: Leave No Trace care codes

Leave No Trace.Org:  Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics

Mountain Safety Council of New Zealand: Trip planning resources 

The New Zealand Leave No Trace site: Leave No Trace New Zealand

Wikipedia: Leave No Trace

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Arthurs Pass Township: food resupply options in the village

Resupplying in Arthur's Pass, Arthur's Pass National Park, South Island

I do a lot of tramping in Arthurs Pass National Park and normally take all my food with me. However if you found yourself in the Park one of the places you could buy food is in Arthur's Pass Township.

Arthurs Pass Store and Cafe, Arthurs Pass Village

On a recent visit to the area I went into the only two places that sell grocery items and took some photos to show you what you can expect to find there.

The Arthurs Pass township 

Arthurs Pass is a small township perched in the depths of the Southern Alps. The regular population of the township is less than 30 people: mostly railway workers, cafe workers, Police, DOC staff and roading contractors.

Sign at the Arthurs Pass railway station

The town only exists because it is one of  the crossing points over the Southern Alps.  Both SH73 and the Trans Alpine rail link between Christchurch and the West Coast of the South Island pass through the township. It is also the nexus for Arthurs Pass National Park and all the wonderful short and multi day tramps located there. 

Map: Arthurs Pass township

Because the town is so small it has very little infrastructure: there are a number of accommodation providers, two cafes, a DOC visitor centre and a railway station. That's it really....because of this one of the cafes also acts as the general store for the area.

Arthurs Pass township: view west towards the Pass and the West Coast of the South Island

Arthurs Pass township: view east towards the DOC centre and Canterbury

 The Arthur's Pass Cafe Store

The Arthurs Pass Cafe Store is located right in the centre of the Arthurs Pass is easily the most prominent and easy to spot building in the village. The main part of the building is seating for the cafe section of the store. The store is also the home of the only petrol bowser in the village.

The Arthurs Pass Cafe Store, SH 73, Arthurs Pass Village

The Arthur's Pass store carries a small but comprehensive grocery selection to supply both visitors and the locals who live and work in the area. It is located at the rear of the store, back beyond the cafe section of the building and consists of a number of shelves and a couple of coolers with chilled and frozen goods in them.

Arthurs Pass Store:grocery section at the rear of the cafe

Arthurs Pass Store: inside the store and cafe: note the menu board

There is a very limited selection of frozen meats which would be suitable for tramping supplies. For example they had single steaks and packets of four sausages in a variety of flavours as well as bacon, cold meats and a selection of dairy products.

Arthurs Pass Store: small bags of frozen meat products, gluten free bread

Arthurs Pass Store: milk, cheese, butter, cream, bacon and cold meats
I've taken some close up shots of the grocery shelves so you can see exactly what they have in the shop. I was mentally building a multi day menu in my mind as I took these could easily buy enough food to see you through for 3-10 days from the goods they have on offer. 

Wither you could carry 10 days food is another matter...

Arthurs Pass Store: groceries shelf I

Arthurs Pass Store:grocery shelf II

Arthurs Pass Store: groceries shelf  III

The General Store is primarily a cafe and tearooms so they have both menu and cabinet items for sale. There is a wide selection of sandwiches, pies, cookies and cakes as well as fruit and various beverages. You can see the menu on the blackboard in the photo below, the range is limited but they sell cooked breakfasts as well as a number of burgers, hot chips and toasted sandwiches.

Arthurs Pass Cafe Store: the food cabinets

There is also a selection of snack items arranged around the main counter so make sure you have a look at what they have available including jerky, chocolate, meal bars and candies.

Arthurs Pass Cafe Store: jerky products

Arthurs Pass Cafe Store: sweets and chocolate supplies

The store has a limited supply of clothing items including socks, merino tops, t-shirts and fleece and merino hats, scarves and gloves. They also sell lightweight rain jackets and baseball caps.

Arthurs Pass Cafe Store: limited supplies of clothing

There is a small off license at the Arthurs Pass store, they sell a limited selection of beers, ciders wine and large spirits bottles. The prices were comparable to what you would pay in Christchurch so $50-$60 for a large bottle of spirits and $12-$25 for a bottle of wine.

As always you must be 18 years of age or older to buy these products and I would imagine they WILL ask for ID to prove this. Apart from the bars at the Wobbly Kea and the Bealey Hotel (10 kms away) this is the only place to buy alcohol in the township. 

Arthurs Pass Cafe Store: Spirits and wine selection in their off license

Arthurs Pass DOC Visitor Centre

The other place which sells a very limited array of resupply items is the Department of Conservation visitor centre in Arthur's Pass. They mainly have a selection of Backcountry Freeze dried meals but also have jerky products, gas cannisters and Em's Snack Bars.

DOC Arthurs Pass Visitor Centre, Arthurs Pass Township, South Island, New Zealand

Arthurs Pass DOC Centre: inside the centre

The shop inside the DOC Visitor Centre in Arthurs Pass

The store has some clothing items including socks, merino tops, t-shirts and fleece and merino hats, scarves and gloves. They also sell lightweight rain jackets and baseball caps. 

Arthurs Pass DOC Centre:the small selection of resupply items

As you are going to visit the centre to check the weather for the next leg of the trail you might as well stop and stock up on a few items. Note that the DOC Visitor centre is the only place selling gas cannisters in the township, otherwise you are going to Hokitika or Christchurch as they are the next closest towns that sell these items. 

Eating at the Wobbly Kea

The only other place to eat in Arthurs Pass is at the Wobbly Kea Cafe and Bar. It is located directly across the road from the Cafe Store in the centre of Arthur's Pass Township.

The wobbly kea cafe and bar, Arthurs Pass Village, Arthurs Pass National Park

The cafe is also a bar so if you are looking for a drink this is where you will need to go, hours are 9 am to 5pm over the winter, 8-8pm during the summer season. The Wobbly Kea serves cooked breakfasts, and lunch/dinner items in the style of bar food so pizza's, burgers, fries, dressed pies and toasted sandwiches. They also have a small cabinet selection including cakes and biscuits.

Wobbly Kea Cafe and Bar: the inside of the cafe

Online treasure trove about Arthurs Pass

There is a very comprehensive page covering information for trampers on the Arthurs website. You should have a look as it is filled with fantastic information about the tramping in the park as well as more general information about Arthurs Pass.

Good information for TA trekkers at

I hope to see you out there some time...