DoC's confusing direction signs raise the ire of Stephanie Holmes.
The first sign told me it would be a 1.5-hour walk. After 20 minutes, the next sign told me it would be two hours. Maybe I'd been walking backwards?
You're lucky I'm writing this. No, really, you are. Because it's quite possible I could still be lost on Motuihe Island right now, wandering around in circles.
I'm a huge fan of New Zealand's multitude of walking trails and love nothing better than lacing up my hiking boots and heading into the wild, green yonder. I'd like to think I'm a woman of average intelligence. I've navigated my way around various big cities of the world; I'm a semi-literate map reader. But I've noticed something on my jaunts along Department of Conservation tracks ... some are easier to follow than others and I've become confused at least; at most, more than a little lost.
Take Motuihe, for example. A beautiful pest-free island in the Hauraki Gulf, it's home to kiwi and tuatara, native bush ... and some very confusing signage.
Exploring the island's endearingly named natural attractions, including Billy Goat Point and, ahem, Bald Knob, my boyfriend (also of at least average intelligence) and I set off, following the track into the tranquil setting of the shady native bush. We came to a fork in the track ... and there were no signs indicating any direction. At the next fork there was a sign saying "Service Track; No Exit", but its position was such that there really was no discernable route to follow. Luckily Motuihe is only a small island, so we fudged it and eventually made it to the shoreline.
On Rangitoto, I took McKenzie Bay Rd to avoid the summiting crowds. The first sign told me it would be a 1.5-hour walk. After 20 minutes, the next sign told me it would be two hours. Maybe I'd been walking backwards?
On New Year's Eve, I wanted to visit my favourite Waiheke vineyard, Cable Bay. Signs at Matiatia Wharf suggested it was only a 15-minute walk. Off we went and the next sign we came to pointed to Oneroa to the left, or Church Bay to the right; nothing about Cable Bay. I followed my nose. Turns out I must have had a cold because, about 30 minutes later, I realised we'd gone in completely the wrong direction.
I know I'm lucky to have access to these tracks at all and I really do appreciate the amazing work DoC does. But if I — an averagely intelligent woman with English as my first language — have trouble finding my way, our all important foreign visitors must do too.
Would clearer signage stop trampers getting lost in the bush, negating the need for costly rescue missions? Or do I just need a lesson in orienteering?
Send me your thoughts. Just please, make them easy to follow.