Future tourists may go on waiting lists to visit national parks
An outgoing Department of Conservation ranger thinks it may become a reality that people will have to go on a waiting list to visit places like Milford Sound.
At the end of next week, DOC senior ranger Ken Bradley will retire after more than 40 years of work in the Fiordland National Park.
In that time he has seen the number of park users grow enormously and thinks future managers will have a challenge on their hands.
Bradley, who grew up on a farm near Waituna Lagoon on the south coast, first came to Fiordland in the late 60s.
He first walked the Milford Track in 1968, at age 16, a track he would later work on as a guide for the Tourism Hotel Corporation in the early 70s.
In 1976, Bradley joined the Lands and Survey department based in the Southern section of the park, from Manapouri south, doing general maintenance.
Over time, Bradley became involved in many projects within the park, such as the rebuilding of the hostel at Deep Cove.
In the 80s, Bradley was part of the team that built the Kepler Track, something he is immensely proud of given how popular it is now.
Future managers would have to grapple with the challenge of managing the park in the face of the increasing number of users, Bradley said.
The department would have to figure out how to cater for the people who wanted to go to Milford while doing small walks along the way, as they were under pressure from visitors already, he said.
It may become a reality that visitors will have to book ahead for their day to go to Milford, Bradley said.
"Somebody, one day, is going to have to say enough is enough, and you book your day to go."
There were many national parks throughout the world where this was already the case, he said.
Bradley has seen overnight campers in the park go from 10,000 in a summer to over 50,000, he said.
Some of the highlights from his time in the department had been the work he had done to establish management plans for historical assets within Southland, as well as his work with the Southland volunteer programme.
Bradley said he would continue to work with volunteers into his retirement and would try to stay involved as much as possible.