Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets?

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Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets?

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 06 Mar, 2021 8:20 am

For those of us who have walked in New Zealand, you would be familiar with the many well maintained and sign posted trails all over the country and the many huts that offer a decent nights sleep in mostly well maintained quarters for usually less than $25 a night. (Great walks costing more). In NZ many trails are cut back regularly and bridges repaired.

Contrast this with NSW.

In NSW most longer trails are overgrown (apart from a few tourist trails that are big $$ overenginered board walks or safety barrier monstrosities due to high traffic). Well sign posted multi day walks are virtually non existant. As are huts.

In NSW maintenance on trails is rare unless it's one of the above boardwalk/safety barrier walks or there is a safety issue and even then the trend is to close it rather than maintain.

I was looking at the NZ dept of conservation budget.
For 20-21 they have a total of 969 million NZD. (903 AUD) for the entire country.
https://www.doc.govt.nz/news/budget-201 ... explained/

Contrast this with NSW.
$632 million dedicated to national parks but part of a total of $1.9 billion of environmental/heritage funding. (Some walk upgrade funding is found in the larger budget)
https://www.budget.nsw.gov.au/budget-ov ... nvironment

It seems to me that NSW spends so much money on a handful of tourist walks, campgrounds and visitor centres when if that money was spread out accross more trails we could make so much more of our national parks accessible to non hardcore 'scrub bash' bushwalking and therefore spread the 'load' among more parks. Instead of most punters ending up on the coastal tracks in royal NP and cliff top blue mountain walks.

Thoughts?

My main point is why spend 10 million putting fancy boardwalks and viewing platforms every 10 metres on a single walk.. when a 100k per year would be enough to create the track and maintain it. Then the saved money could be used to clear and maintain so many more walks.. and link them up to create multi day walks.
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby michael_p » Sat 06 Mar, 2021 12:17 pm

wildwanderer wrote:It seems to me that NSW spends so much money on a handful of tourist walks, campgrounds and visitor centres

And consultants, don't forget the millions that is spent on consultants.

Headlines and photo ops in high viz are far more important than substance.
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby Joynz » Sat 06 Mar, 2021 1:14 pm

I’m not sure that DOCs staff in NZ feel that the budget in NZ is that generous.

Every great walks ranger I’ve talked to over the past few years (pre PM Adern, though) has said that DOCS funding is perpetually getting cut. Important environmental programs like stoat and possum control are therefore difficult to provide - so they are encouraging people who walk the tracks to donate to these programs.
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 06 Mar, 2021 2:01 pm

michael_p wrote:
wildwanderer wrote:It seems to me that NSW spends so much money on a handful of tourist walks, campgrounds and visitor centres

And consultants, don't forget the millions that is spent on consultants.

Headlines and photo ops in high viz are far more important than substance.


That does seem to be a big part of the problem. That an awarding money to projects in marginal electorates regardless of project merit.

Though also NPWS has a role to play. There is a mindset in the npws hierarchy that they don't maintain tracks (apart from the tourist tracks) or push through new ones. (On existing pads etc).

There should be no reason why a npws ranger couldn't get a bunch of blue metal discs and walk a few of the popular unmaintained 'tracks' marking the route as he/she goes. The cost would be a week's pay and couple hundred bucks for metal squares, nails and a hammer.

Similar how hard is it to contract a couple of people to go along a trail for a couple weeks with a whippersnapper once every 6 months/year depending on need.

Though I'm sure the red tape to do something simple like bang a 20sqcm disc into a tree is tremendous, which is also part of the problem.

The nwps website is also a total joke when you compare it to the detailed maps and route guidance available on the NZ DOCs site.

Joynz wrote:I’m not sure that DOCs staff in NZ feel that the budget in NZ is that generous.

Every great walks ranger I’ve talked to over the past few years (pre PM Adern, though) has said that DOCS funding is perpetually getting cut. Important environmental programs like stoat and possum control are therefore difficult to provide - so they are encouraging people who walk the tracks to donate to these programs.


For sure DOCS could be better funded. My main point though is what they do with funding they do get. The outcomes for walkers in NZ seem far better than what we receive in Australia. (Specifically speaking about NSW but I haven't heard it's much better in other states)
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby Kickinghorse » Sat 06 Mar, 2021 2:39 pm

And add to this, contrast the level of service. Attempted to contact Nat Parks Katoomba area a couple of times by phone. After 30 mins of annoying music and operator telling me “somebody will be with you soon “ gave up as a poor experience.

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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby crollsurf » Sat 06 Mar, 2021 5:51 pm

There is so much to “unpackage” to use the modern vernacular that you could create its own forum.

1. The NSW economy is so much bigger than NZ and tourism in NSW is Sydney, the Opera House, the Bridge, Bondi and maybe, maybe a trip to the Blue Mountains. Very few visit RNP let alone the outback. NZ on the other hand, hiking, adventure, outdoors, it’s their tourism call card.

2. Politically the current LNP has no interest in the environment, quite the opposite. But that wasn’t always the case. Obviously, the ALP is better at it but the Griener and Fahey Gov’ts, both Liberal, did do some good things for the Parks and the environment in the past. The agenda driven media is mainly responsible for this (read Murdoch and now Costello also)

3. The management is opaque to say the least. Zero transparency, as a tax payer, can anyone tell me who is even running the parks?

4. The parks website is good except for their mapping. Also, their alert system needs formalizing: To announce “Park closures” and then list areas that are open with the word open is not good communications. I recently emailed Environment NSW about closing Ben Boyd with a couple of days notice due to aerial pest control, which stuffed up my plans. They apologized and it was because of a new staffer. I totally get that and that’s one thing that remained the same. The people on the ground, on the coal face, are and always have been great people.
...
5. Monetizing the value of the parks. I’m not against the idea but not to the detriment of the other park users. I know there are issue in Tasmania but it should never be to “the detriment of the other park users” and this is of great concern ATM and a concern the parks seem to be ignoring.

I could go on…
Last edited by crollsurf on Sun 07 Mar, 2021 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby Lindsay » Sat 06 Mar, 2021 9:39 pm

In NZ tourism and tramping is a far bigger part of the economy than it is in NSW, and the Kiwis spend much more per capita on it, with the result being that DOC is a far better funded and run organisation than NPWS.
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby wayno » Sun 07 Mar, 2021 4:59 am

DOC isnt well funded at all. a third of NZ's landmass is managed by DOC. tourism doesnt nearly pay for running the DOC estate. DOC are maintaining less tracks every year. for a long long time they were underfunded and starved of funds, now they are trying to play catchup
a few years ago the budget was $300 million under the national govt, the labour govt gave them a big cash injection but previously they had also let the budget stagnate.
they are looking at removing less used huts... the govt just havent caught up on properly funding DOC, a lot of tracks are high maintence the bush is like jungle and can quickly cover a track without exensive maintenance in a lot of areas.. go to a fiordland great walk before the summer season starts and you'll have a steeplechase to navigate after winter storms. by the start of the summer season the tracks are back to their normal perfect state, '
i was on the kepler. one storm dropped dozens of trees across the track. the standard of the track means that has to be cleared quickly, requiring frequent track maintenance.
they are getting more into the high maintenance track which starve other areas of resourcing, leaving them to wither on the vine
they've been caught out by the explosion in tourism and just left access free and put massive increasing pressure on DOCs scarce resources , forcing them to devote staff to dealing with tourists instead of their core function, conservation, there is a border tax, part of that goes to DOC,
cleaning up the mess left by tourists in DOC parts is straining DOC staff..
the only place doc recover their money is great walks and the tongariro crossing and mt cook. abel tasman park and a select few other places
if a hut burns down its often not replaced, around a hut a year burns down.
their resources are sucked up in specific places.
introduced pests decimate the native bird population, estimated to kill around 20 million native birds a year, numerous species are heading towards extinction, its a massive effort to keep any one of them from extinction, some species only exist in protected areas with heavy pest control measures. theres a reason why you'll be lucky to see a kiwi in the wild, let alone a kakapo or kokako yellowhead, stitchbird, saddleback.
wilding pines are taking over vast areas of the country. outcompeting native trees. possums are a massive problem, our trees have no way to resist them and the leaves are far more easily digested by them, they systematically go for favourite tree species wiping them out in area. massive amounts of DOCs budget it predator control and only in a small minority of DOC parks.. 1080 is the only safe poison to use because it breaks down in water, but thers a lot of nutters who campaign against it as cruel to the animals, not half as cruel as the way millions of native animals are killed by predators every year... if you tramp long enough in nz and are up at night you'll see possums. the SPCA in nz will treat and release pests back into the wild... esp feral cats... you dont think about it but theres millions of possums and cats in the NZ wilderness, you know stoats are bad when yo see them on the tracks during the day.. beech trees are giving off seeds more frequently than they used to, it only used be once every few years now its at least every other year.. the rodent population explodes when that happens, when the seeds are gone they turn on the birds and other native animals. the stoats explode eating the rodents and once the rodent no's drop off turn on the birds even more... dont expect NZ forests to all keep looking the same way in the future...
deer are completely devastating the new plant growth in vast areas of forest, the forest will eventually die out without massive intervention... if you don't know what you're looking at you might think its a healthy forest, plenty of mature trees, but once they start dying off, they won't be replaced, once the canopy opens up the speed of the death of the forest accelerates.
a silent forest in NZ is a very unhealthy ecosystem, when settlers first arrived here they complained about the bird noise and struggling to get to sleep at night.. most nz forests are almost silent now or dead silent..
kea , the vast majority of kea you will see are male. the females do all the nesting in tree trunks and are heavily predated on by stoats which catch them in the nest. a stoat will take the long approach with a kea, bite, retreat, wait, bite, repeat until the kea is dead.
DOC has to spend more of its precious budget on things like sewerage removal because of the increasing no of tourists $100,000 a year on fiordlands great walks... there's about 25 toilets that have to be emptied on the tongariro crossing. most by helicopter.
the national govt stacked DOC full of tourism managers who further shifted DOC's core focus, and dont give a stuff about tramping for seasoned trampers, just about walks for the tourists. they also stripped out a lot of important scientific staff who were the canaries in the coal mine for ecological, environmental and conservation issues, the conservation boards were stacked with busines people, more tourism businesses were allowed to operate in the parks, concessions for major commercial development in parks got further through the approval process that should have been declined initially.... a proposal to drill a road tunnel under the routeburn and dump all the rock on the hollyford riverbed was almost approved, a flood would have eventually carried it into the river , it would be toxic to the environment and kill everything downriver, fiordland rock is very high in toxic mineral content..
a proposal to put a 40km monorail through a beech forest was almost approved near fiordland... most likely both proposals would have run out of money before they were completed and would have left a big industrial mess on parks land that there would have been no money to clean up and remove... the national govt told DOC they had to come up with a lot of their own funding, making it hard to resist business involvement in the parks.. conservation took a bigger and bigger back seat to eco tourism.
theres a massive amount of volunteer involvement with DOC, they have been pushing more and more for it, to do the work they dont have the money for.... a lot of hut rangers are volunteers. massive amounts of conservation, hut maintenance and predator control work is done and often funded by volunteers. there was a big push to remove a lot of huts and it took a lot of backlash from tramping groups to stop it, volunteer groups took over maintenance of the huts, they have to sign binding agreements with DOC for the hut maintenance , which put a lot of groups off getting involved, they wanted to wipe out most of the huts in the Ruahines at one stage, its not a major park where tourists go and DOC don't want to put a lot of money into those areas... but its a park that gets a high usage from locals compared to other parks because its near a lot of centers of population...
the tararuas has had tracks and huts removed, its a heavily used area, because of the relatively high population living around it... parks in the south island have a small fraction of the local population living around them but their funding is exponentially greater. in part because they attract far more tourists...
DOC havent paid much attention to resourcing areas within easy reach of the main population centers.
one of the most popular walks near where i live is a giant trench from all the use it gets that turns into a mud fest when it rains, overgrown with gorse that needs volunteers to clear. but it would rival most tracks in nz for use...
tourists don't come to nz for the city life and night life, we don't hold a candle to major international city destinations. they are here for outdoors recreational and or scenic or relaxing holidays.
from the land of the long white clouds...
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby bernieq » Sun 07 Mar, 2021 11:31 am

... and if that wasn't enough problems to sort out, you now have Phytophthora agathidicida infecting (and killing) kauri in the Waitakere Ranges (outside Auckland).

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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby wayno » Sun 07 Mar, 2021 12:44 pm

bernieq wrote:... and if that wasn't enough problems to sort out, you now have Phytophthora agathidicida infecting (and killing) kauri in the Waitakere Ranges (outside Auckland).


thats completely wrong, the science on it hasnt been done correctly, the trees are dying because they are drought stricken, the disease is taking advantage of weakened trees. trees along ridgelines are the first to die, trees in valleys rarely die. they arent the only species that are dying, but they are very noticieable and have very shallow roots and are vulnerable to drought, the big ones the most vulnerable because of the higher volume of water they need
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby bernieq » Sun 07 Mar, 2021 1:33 pm

Clearly, when plants are stressed they are more susceptible to disease. As they have been known in NZ for many decades, other species of Phytophthora may indeed adversly impact kauri only when the trees are drought-stressed.

However, P. agathidicida (only recently described and first (afaik) identified in 2007 as a separate species) is known to affect otherwise healthy trees - and with a different mode, causing collar rot.

I imagine researchers in the field (one I know has studied Phytophthora all his professional life) might argue with the statement "the science on it hasn't been done correctly".

More to the point of the OP however, it certainly seems to me that NZ does environmental management vastly better than in Aus. That said, sadly there is a growing propensity of both governments to turn wild places into a manicured tame 'experience'.

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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 07 Mar, 2021 6:33 pm

Another interesting stat to add to this discussion.

New Zealand has aprox 8 million hectares of land managed by DOCs through its A$903 million per year budget.

NSW has aprox 7 million hectares of land devoted to parks and reserves. Most funded I assume through the A$1.9 billion environment and heritage budget but also some I expect funded separately by local councils etc.

As mentioned above npws budget of A$632 million (only for NPs not reserves etc) is included in the 1.9 billion figure. The 1.9 figure funds a lot of things not just national park and reserves.

It would be interesting to compare (for a more direct comparison) npws budget vs docs budget for land specifically allocated to national park. And also NSW NP total hectares vs docs NP total hectares but those stats are a bit harder to extrapolate with the time I have available.
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 07 Mar, 2021 7:01 pm

Also one other factor that I hadn't considered up to now. The amount of longer 'unmaintained' tracks in NSW NP that go through declared wilderness areas. A significant percentage of the longer walks do for at least part of the route.

That may be a reason why some of those tracks never see a whippersnapper. And usually feature just a sign at the start of the track and no or extremely occasional signage on the trail itself.
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby madpom » Tue 09 Mar, 2021 5:58 pm

Not to forget that in many areas of NZ most tracks and backcountry huts are maintained by volunteers under formal management agreements (e.g. Permolat on the west coast)
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby danman » Fri 26 Mar, 2021 4:53 pm

Interesting to note Tas PWS ends up with $71m to manage 3.5m hectares.

$20 a hectare vs NZ $100 a hectare.
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Re: Why do NZ walkers get better value for their NP budgets

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Fri 26 Mar, 2021 8:13 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Also one other factor that I hadn't considered up to now. The amount of longer 'unmaintained' tracks in NSW NP that go through declared wilderness areas. .

This ^^

Not a bad thing in itself IMO, although it doesn't speak to the issue of NSW parks seemingly getting less bang for their bucks than other jurisdictions.


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