A camping stove in NZ will be taken to a lot of wonderful outdoor destinations over the course of its lifetime. So will much of the camping gear we sell. However, many of those destinations are now even better, thanks to COVID-19. Yes, it’s the perfect example of every cloud having a silver lining!
The New Zealand government has invested heavily in a Jobs for Nature fund: 1.3 billion dollars to be precise. This programme has been set up to keep Kiwis in jobs during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, which has a real upside for those of us who love exploring New Zealand’s mountains, forests, rivers, and wide-open spaces. This is because part of the programme is devoted to upgrading many of the huts, bridges and walking trails that are a familiar part of the New Zealand landscape. The upgrades range from simple maintenance to restorations of many classic huts, while tracks and bridges are also receiving long-overdue repairs. Those of us who regularly head into the outdoors will understand how timely this work is.
The Backcountry Trust is responsible for these projects. They’ve been working on over 150 hut restorations for the last six years, and a two million dollar funding boost will dramatically expand the number of huts it can work on. Of course, there’s a long way to go and even more funding will be welcome. After all, there are 950 huts across New Zealand in the DOC estate and the Backcountry Trust has a long-term partnership with the Department of Conservation to help maintain the network of tracks and huts in remote areas. A couple of million dollars, while welcome, will only go so far!
We sincerely hope that all this good work will provide an even better experience for those of us who love camping, hiking, tramping and climbing around this wonderful country of ours. And wouldn’t it be even better if it encouraged others to forego conventional holiday experiences and start connecting with nature? COVID-19 is obviously something we could all live without but if it gives us a new appreciation of the natural beauty that surrounds us, then that has to be good the preservation of the environment.