“It is now harder to book a walk on the Milford Track than it is to see Justin Bieber or Adele live in concert in Auckland,” the Guardian in the UK wrote this week.
This might sound like good news to some (namely Bieber and Adele fans).
The piece draws attention to the amount of human waste and litter alongside one of New Zealand’s biggest tourist drawcards: the Milford Track.
The 54km hike is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and receives more than 8000 visitors during summer.
Most of those 8000 visitors hike the track over four days, using the huts that they pre-booked.
According to the British publication, contractors working on the track barely have time to finish clearing the human faeces and toilet paper from the track before it reopens again.
It quotes a contractor who last year told Radio New Zealand “You find poos and toilet paper just littered down the side of the tracks”.
The vast majority of hikes on the Milford Track are foreign tourists and the track keeps growing in popularity overseas.
Last year, tickets for the Milford Track sold out within 90 minutes.
A Department of Conservation worker told the Guardian the track has “become a highway, a conveyor belt”.
“People come here looking for meaning, searching for some sort of solace. But the bush doesn’t just give that up. In the huts there’s so much squabbling and showing off. To me, Milford isn’t about tramping anymore, at least, not how Kiwis know it.”