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Routeburn glory, snoring and envy

  • February 11th, 2008

On the tops

Last week Cathy and I walked the Routeburn with a dozen friends. We were, and felt , on top of the world. Just so lucky to be able to spend time like that, nearly alone in vast landscapes, swimming in crystal clear frigid lakes and streams.

My son encouraged us. He did it with friends over the New Year, in jandals because my boots he borrowed gave him blisters.

But a great curiousity emerged. Why do women spend so much time anxious about the sleeping arrangements for the night? Not whether we’d bag a bunk, because pre-booking stops overfilling of the huts. No, they spend hours discussing how to pre-detect snorers to avoid sleeping near them.

I don’t get it. Snoring is easier for me to ignore than wind gusts or rustling sleeping bags. If it’s something primeval can’t they re-program a snoring orchestra into comfort that there are plenty of others around for the bears to eat before them?

On Envy

We carried our own food and gear at our own pace. Other parties skipped along with nothing but cameras and daypacks.

They were in the guided groups, moving from one luxurious sheeted bed to the next. We imagined the private rooms that would have kept snorers penned with their own long-suffering partners. We could only imagine because these ‘mansions’ were out of sight of the DoC huts.

Nevertheless there was resentment of the guided party privileges from among the DoC freedom walkers, even from some of my friends. To me there was space in that vast country for many times the numbers we met. I was proud that around 13,000 per year can enjoy that track. I was told the guided people were paying $800 for the three days. Some were old and could not have carried packs. I thought it was great they could all be there.

They had no tangible impact on us at all, yet the ugly side of egalitarianism came out to prefer that they not have that choice, as if in some way our pleasure was affected by the possibility that someone else who’d paid was finding things even more pleasant.

DoC could easily have improved our pleasure and made money. Nearly everyone was carrying similar food – rice, noodles or pasta, and freeze dried or Kaiwaka boil-in-bag pouches, and for treats wine bladders and chocolate. There were staff at every hut. Helicopters service them frequently. They could load vending machines in each hut to dispense those bare necessities. Everyone could have lighter packs.

DoC would make money for conservation (or to paint more of their innumerable yellow and green safety warning signs).

I suspect it does not happen because that envious hair shirt strain also infects DoC. Lightening the packs of people who’d buy Kaiwaka pouches would offend envious types. They’d object on principle. So it goes in our paradise.


  • Matt B
  • February 11th, 2008
  • 4:38 pm

DOC doesn’t need to stop at flying in vendor machines. According to the guy who runs Coyote Blog, they can contract out management of the entire park and be paid rent into the bargain:

“I own and manage one of the larger concessionaires in the California State Park (CSP) system… we have invested over a million dollars of our money in a public-private partnership with the state to revamp to the park. We also operate parks for the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, Arizona State Parks, Texas State Parks, and other public authorities.

Traditionally, CSP has engaged concessionaires to run stores and marinas within parks, but not to run entire parks. However, in many other states, our company runs entire parks and campgrounds for other government authorities, and does so to the highest quality standards.

So, I can say with confidence that many of the California State Parks proposed for closure would be entirely viable as private concessions. For example, we operate the store and marina at Clear Lake State Park but could easily run the entire park and make money doing so, while also paying rent to the state for the privilege.”

So the model is that the company manages the park in exchange for the exclusive right to feed and possibly house vistors. And it appears that not only is the government relieved of the (economic) cost of managing the park, they can derive an income from it.

  • Georgia
  • February 11th, 2008
  • 10:40 pm

I think DOC should look harder at its non-commercial philosophy. At Totaranui Campground in the Abel Tasman campers have to drive 45 minutes on a rough, shingle road to Takaka to buy groceries. I can’t see how allowing someone to set up even a summer store selling bread, milk, fresh produce and camper basics would harm the camping experience and it would certainly save loads of petrol.


Well Stephen you’re lucky that you can ignore snoring so easily. There are plenty of people who suffer from disturbed sleep and anxiety each night due to their partner’s loud snoring.

No surpise either that it’s the ladies that fuss over avoiding snorers when camping – since the men are probably snoring themselves off to sleep without a care in the world…

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