Hut étiquette, ie, manners

If there’s a fair amount to learn about how to behave in New Zealand’s backcountry huts it could all be summarised in a few words — don’t be a slob.

Unless you bring your mother along.

In Great Walk huts, and often during the summer months in the more popular DOC Serviced huts, there is a resident hut warden to ensure that the huts don’t become big pigsties. For all the other huts you have to personally take responsibility and leave them neat and tidy, with something in the way of firewood.

An acceptable standard of behaviour is:

Leave the huts in, err, neat and tidy condition;

If you are completely soaked, leave your boots and wet raincoat outside. Leave your boots outside anyway;

Write your name in the hut book, fill in the details, that will help any other hut users remember your name and may assist if you have a problem. There is some misunderstanding that DOC will use this information to track you down to pay your hut fees, this certainly ain’t going to happen. The books remain in the huts for years and it would cost DOC much more than it is worth. It’s for your safety. If you are one of the few people who run into severe difficulty each year, it can help search and rescue find you, ie, they know you were here and where you were headed. It helps DOC assess how many people use the huts and in this time of austerity there is a danger that lesser-used huts will be removed;

Take out your rubbish when you go, all of it, ie, that means every last bit, don’t pile crap in the fireplace. You bought it in, take the rest away;

Sweep the floor, all huts usually supply of broom, a brush, and a pan, there’s usually a lot of crap bought in on your feet during your stay. This explains why you often arrive at a hut to find the benches up on the tables. It’s an indication that the last lot did actually sweep up;

Turn the mattresses you used on their side. This was once a technique used to avoid mouse droppings on the fabric, is now to reduce condensation on the plastic covering, I guess;

Wipe the benches down, pretty obvious, remove all that revolting crap from sinks;

Avoid leaving unwanted food, don’t feed those rodents;

Leave some firewood, at least some stuff that can be used to start a fire. With New Zealand’s changeable weather you never know when you will appreciate the ability to get a blaze going quickly to warm up. Leaving nothing is truly bad form. Most huts are in or near a forest, there are no excuses;

But don’t cut down living vegetation, not even to prove you are really a man;

Don’t exhibit raucous behaviour way into the night after others have got horizontal;

Don’t leech off others’ efforts, like, go and gather or chop some more firewood. You could even do it before the fire is almost out;

Don’t apply your belongings to every horizontal surface. Appreciate that there are, or maybe will be, other users, so be considerate of your fellow trampers.

So, don’t be a slob.

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