Sustainable Summits 2016 | Key points for the Dept. of Conservation by Don Bogie

Key points for the Dept. of Conservation, from Sustainable Summits conference held at Aoraki Mount Cook 8-11 August 2016

Spiritual Values of the mountains and community connection

  • The importance of mountains to Iwi and the mountain users, from a spiritual perspective.
  • Local communities may feel alienated from their Parks as visitor numbers rise.

Visitor pressures on alpine areas

  • New Zealand does not have the same pressures on its high alpine areas from climbers as other places. New Zealand’s pressures are in the front country where increasingly large numbers of visitors come to see the mountains and from aircraft based sightseeing and landings.
  • Worth keeping an eye on whether alpine guiding will attract more users particularly lower skilled people who want an alpine experience that includes summiting prominent mountains such as Aspiring. This has the potential to put pressure on some places.

Dealing with Human waste

  • Human waste lasts for a long time in glacial environments. It eventually comes out somewhere and will pollute downstream waters.
  • Carry out policies for human waste at high use sites is about both the environmental concerns and preserving the experience for others. An opportunity exists at present to use carry out at the new Mid Tasman NZAC hut.
  • As use increases in alpine places and in the busy mountain front country tourist sites costs of dealing with human waste will go up. There is a need to get more innovative with how this issue is dealt with.

Climate change and associated rapid geological changes

  • As climate change and glacier changes happen tourism operations will want to be able to find different locations as access changes and new opportunities for different products occur.
  • Access to some traditional climbing places will get harder and the alpine climbing seasons timing will change so routes can still be climbed on snow.
  • Weeds being more likely to establish on disturbed ground post any rockfall or debris flows particularly post wide scale landslides associated with a major earthquake.
    Hazards to visitors from Alpine Fault and increased rockfall activity
  • The likelihood of a major earthquake on the Alpine fault at 30% chance in the next 50 years is 0.6% per annum or 3% in the next 5 years. It will be very disruptive to road access and other infrastructure. It will be followed by years of increased debris flows onto alluvial flans which will create further ongoing issues.
  • In the event of a large earthquake on the Alpine Fault serious risks to visitors on Public Conservation Land will occur in places where cosiesmic landslides are likely to occur, such as Milford Sound, Aoraki, Fox and Franz Glacier access and large areas of the backcountry.

Mountain Huts

  • Climate change, rapid geological change, earthquake risks and increasing rockfall hazards are all affecting the viability and safety of a number of current hut sites, it is likely to get worse. There are fewer safe sites available now than there had been in the past.
  • Where sites have limited lifespans smaller relocatable huts may become a viable option.

Critical issues

  • How to ensure that the spiritual values of mountains to Iwi are not impacted by the actions of the Department or the visitors to the mountains?
  • How to ensure that local communities stay connected to the mountains?
  • How to ensure our planning (Management and operational) can handle the increased tourism growth in a timely manner that also preserves the values of the mountains and experiences of visitors?
  • How to ensure our planning (Management and operational) can handle the changes to alpine access affecting alpine climbers and tourism operators in a timely manner that also preserves the values of the mountains and experiences of visitors?
  • How to ensure that we understand the visitor safety issues from major earthquakes in the Southern Alps so that we can take appropriate actions both leading up to and post a major event.
  • How to work with guiding companies and other concessionaires so that they can be the models of the behaviours we want all visitors to do.
  • How to put more effort into developing best practice so we can get the longer term benefits from doing things better. (i.e things like toilets and alpine hut design)

Don Bogie
Senior Advisor
Business Assurance
16 August 2016

Mt Aspiring from the Snow Farm road, Cardrona Valley
Some busy light and clouds lurking to the west while descending the Snow Farm Lodge road in early Sept. 2016. That’s the big “A” to the left ~ Mt Aspiring…
photo by Southern Light

Sustainable Summits 2016 | photo gallery to reflect on

It’s been a privilege to both attend the conference and to compile a summation here.

It started because I’d been asked by one of the Alpine Club organisers Bob McKerrow to augment his gathering of images, and I needed somewhere to distribute about a 100 of same, so my own environmental web site seemed a good place to start what has turned out to be, for the moment at least, a-one-stop-shop.

Thanks to Ross Cullen for making the text of the programme available to me, John Cocks and Dave Bamford for checking/editing and supplying yet more content such as the summations by Don Bogie and Hugh Logan, and lastly Carla Braun-Elwert of Atara Films for sharing the podcasts

This last selection of photos below were not taken at the conference, but I gathered them from my own library to illustrate some of the topics discussed. Enjoy!


Donald Lousley | Southern Light

UIAA | NZAC hosts successful Sustainable Summits Conference

31 Aug, 2016
UIAA ~ International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation has published an overview of the conference on their web site

NZAC hosts successful Sustainable Summits Conference

130 attendees took part in the Sustainable Summits Conference, organized by the New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC) in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park from 7-11 August.

Hugh Logan, former Director General of the New Zealand Department of Conservation, articulated the spirit of the conference in his Summing Up-What Can We Do? presentation.”The conference is the third in a series where people passionate about sustainable management of mountain areas have gathered to discuss social, environmental and economic issues affecting mountain areas from the perspective of sustainability.

”The conference comprised discussions from a number of emanate speakers and focused its attention on many core themes

The source >> NZAC hosts successful Sustainable Summits Conference

Or to read an overview of each day on this site >> and scroll down