A veteran mountaineer says the litter problem on Mt Taranaki is getting worse.

Ian McAlpine says while he was at Fantham's Peak recently, he spent two hours picking up rubbish — including 350 pieces of old glass.

Ian — who has been climbing the mountain for over 50 years — regularly picks up paper, plastic bags, coins in a tobacco tin, hats, gloves, rings, watches, cameras, shoe soles and even knickers and pieces of aeroplane.

Ian says it is hard to say how old the pieces of glass were.


"Most are pretty old which proves littering on the mountain is not a new problem, I found some old coins too.

"Prior to the First World War, climbers would leave bottles and tins with names and notes up on the summit. After the war some summiters smashed them all and the notes blew away in the wind."

Ian says when he first started mountain guiding he would pick up old metal nails from mountain climbers' leather boots.

"I picked up hundreds of these and when there were only a few left I started picking up glass — each time it rains it bring more to the surface, I have brought down thousands of bits of glass."

He says before the 1970s there were very few climbers heading up the mountain, but now there are thousands who should be carrying out everything they take in.

Ian says it is the outdoor care code not to litter and people needed to take responsibility for their rubbish.

"I guess it is Department of Conservation's responsibility to get the rubbish message across as they are the mountain's guardians."

Ian says it is also up to DoC to provide toilets where needed on the mountain and they need to be placed high on the northern summit route.

"I believe there needs to be two extra toilets on the Taranaki-Pouakai Crossing, one maybe at the Kokowai Junction and another at the Akukawakawa Swamp before travellers head up the Pouakai Ranges."

DoC spokesman David Rogers says the issue of rubbish being left in public places and conservation land is not confined to Mount Taranaki. It does, however, become more of a problem at the height of the summer season because more people are visiting.

"DoC has long had a policy of encouraging people to accept personal responsibility to pack out what they pack in to all visitor destinations."

David says this has more recently been updated by DoC to a "leave no trace" philosophy which is outlined on its website.

"Given that most people now get their information about intended visitor destinations online there are no longer physical signs at particular sites advocating this policy," David says.

He says complaints about rubbish left in the park are not that common and people can report the location of rubbish that needs removal.

DoC arranges for removal of rubbish whenever necessary, particularly in more remote locations where thoughtless people have been known to dump by the trailer load.

"Such actions could bring prosecution action against anyone caught or identified committing such an offence," he says.

David says toilets are located and available at North Egmont, as well as the Holly and Pouakai huts. It is proposed in the forthcoming Pouakai Crossing development to locate toilets on a seasonal basis at two more sites along the way.

A proposed car park development at Mangorei Rd would also include toilet facilities.