Traditionally I use my summer road trip to find new tourism travesties to rant about – this year of course is no different. Recently we visited Tane Mahuta, the largest known Kauri tree remaining alive in the world. Tane Mahuta is situated in Waipoua forest, an incredible example of old growth native forest that is a source of pride for New Zealand.
We decided to take a short walk to see some other massive Kauri examples so pulled up to the Department of Conservation car park only to be greeted by a semi-toothless local bearing the sign below;
Yes it seems this entrepreneurial chap, with the support of our very own Conservation Department, had decided to set up a protection racket charging unwary tourists $2 to “protect” their vehicles while they partook of a short walk in the forest.
Now I’ve spent a fair amount of time in DOC sites from the Northernmost to the (almost) Southernmost, this is the first time I’ve seen such a racket, more at home in India or Egypt than New Zealand where we pride ourselves of being open and honest – “baksheesh” (for this is surely what this guy was charging) is an unknown concept here.
So I could only come up with two possible conclusions:
- Some underpaid minor official in the Department of Conservation is supplementing his meager income by allowing this chap to run his scam. A scenario I find unlikely or,
- This guy has somehow managed to evade the usually rigorous check of the Department and has made up these signs in an impressive, but illicit piece of fraud.
So… which is it? Over to you DOC