I had a bit of a laugh, and (aside from its content), thought the sign followed our Outdoor Sign Manual rather well! But as well as being a bit of a joke, there is some seriousness to the matter. One of the fake signs directed people towards an “effluent station” up a steep bluff, and as DOC Wakatipu programme manager Richard Kennett pointed out, this could be dangerous for those visitors who don’t have a strong grasp of English, or also for those who don’t visit the outdoors very often.
DOC uses signage to provide visitors with all kinds of information: directions on how to get to places, on-site orientation, hazard, safety and regulatory messages, all of which are intended to help visitors enjoy the vast array of great DOC-managed areas around the country.
DOC signs are very easily spotted with their green and gold colourings and distinctive logo. So although they may seem like a harmless joke, the consequences of fake signs like the ones on the Routeburn may end up being more than just a laugh.
Fake sign, real issue: getting rid of waste.
From the ‘minimising your impact’ side of things, in the past rubbish was either burnt in hut fireplaces or buried in rubbish pits near huts. Thankfully these practices have been abandoned, and now visitors must follow the mantra ‘pack it in-pack it out’.
And rather than using ‘tramping nappies’, check out the poo pots developed in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park for all your outdoor sanitary needs.
So next time you’re bashing around in the hills, take a moment to read the signs you come across, and if they mention anything about bodily functions in the backcountry, maybe take them with a grain of salt.