Volunteer work on Public Conservation Land continues to be limited under Level 3 restrictions and it is unlikely groups will be back to normal operation until we reach level 1 or 2. In the medium term, we have a significant programme already funded and ready to go over the remainder of the year. As our newsletter went to press we await government announcements this week which will hopefully allow us to get back to work.
Whether there are any changes to the long term programme remains to be seen, but the world pandemic has thrown up some interesting discussion points on the future of how we invest in recreational facilities. What is looking clear is that in many places the money spent from the government pool to support tourism for large scale numbers – the likes of oversized car parks, toilets and five minute short walks – are now looking a little sad and redundant for the medium term, possibly longer. The investment there doesn't look robust to world shocks and changing circumstances. As many people predicted, these soaked up a lot of money to deal with short term issues with little thought as to how they would look if there was a shock to international tourism.
We can only hope that this shock is the opportunity to refocus back to the local and the places in the hills that many New Zealanders value. It is these places that are likely to be more robust investments as by their very nature they are entwined in our lives in a way that can't be easily separated.
In the final moments before this extended period of isolation and reflection, there were a number of projects that got close to being finished. The New Zealand Alpine Club almost completed the foundations for the long planned flyable biv that will be located south of Beetham Stream on the Malte Brun Range. An NZDA team in North Canterbury went in to do some work on Tutu Hut and Keith Dekkers and friends re-roofed Poolies Hut; the latest work party that almost brings that project almost to completion. Hugh van Noorden and friends from Permolat West Coast were also in at Canyon Creek Biv for the first part of the maintenance on that facility.
Many groups are raring to go when the restrictions lift. The time for painting has probably passed, but there are still a few structural repairs, track cutting and re-roofing projects to get on with. There is at least one major new Backcountry Trust mountain biking project set to go with all its permissions and this is the new track to create a loop with the Mt Fyffe Hut near Kaikoura.
It will be a funny old year, but what else to do but to keep trying to get the best out of every situation and make some progress where we all can.