Tourists cause closure of South Island walking tracks

Some South Island high country farmers have closed walking tracks on their land because too many tourists are causing problems.

Photo: RNZ Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

One farmer has suggested charging people to use the walkways and using the money to fund toilets and other infrastructure.

Other farmers and landowners have complained they often have to clean up rubbish and other waste because of the lack of available facilities to cater for the growth in tourists.

The head of the Walking Access Commission, Eric Pyle, said about 100,000 people walk across their land each year, which has resulted in some problems for farming operations.

“We heard, for instance, from one farmer who had his lambs taken to the police station because the tourist think ‘ oh there‘s a lamb that‘s lost it‘s mother, we better take it in. Then the police rung up and said ‘ hey, we‘ve got one your lambs again,” and off he would go and get it. Now he can‘t lamb in that paddock.”

The manager of Mount Aspiring Station, Randall Aspinall, said visitors should be charged to use the walkways.

“Essentially just a bit of a national strategy around how can we get the infrastructure that‘s required to handle this number of people, and ideally funding it through the visitors rather than through the tax payer base.”

The Walking Access Commission would now meet with local councils to discuss access strategies for the whole of the South Island.

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