B.Whether the crest of an icy mountain peak, the depths of the dense native bush or the slopes of dormant volcanoes – New Zealand’s wild and remote landscapes are coveted by outdoor enthusiasts around the world. But what really sets the country’s nature apart from others is what is available when nature calls – spectacular loos with a view.
These quaint spots – small, remote, and devoid of toilet facilities – are a curious quirk of New Zealand’s landscape and offer some of the best panoramas in the country.
Toilet at Mt Brown Hut. Photo: Ruth McKie / DOCMisty Hill and Toilet at Upper Te Hoe Hut, Whirinaki. Photo: Philippa Cox / DOC
“It’s pretty funny when you arrive at a hut at the end of a fantastic stretch, and it’s absolutely breathtaking, and this view is not lost even through the long slope,” says the enthusiastic hitchhiker and photographer Julie Gursha.
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Gursha moved to New Zealand just before the pandemic. She has hiked around the world but says New Zealand’s loos with a view stand out.
“Many places in the States have 360-degree views, but I backpacked my tent there. The opportunity to be in a cabin with a nice loo is definitely unique in New Zealand and very special, ”she laughs.
Her personal favorite is the Cameron Hut in Hakatere Conservation Park, near Ashburton on the South Island. “It’s just a little off the beaten path – it’s very special.”
The highest outside toilet in New Zealand is located at 2,500 m in Empress Hut, Aoraki in Mt. Cook National Park. Photo: DOC
The Department of Conservation is responsible for the extensive network of landscaped latrines and holds the unusual gong of “managing more toilets than any other organization in New Zealand”.
“The Department of Heritage manages 2,200 toilet buildings with around 3,500 toilet bowls … many of them are in stunning locations,” said Steve Taylor, director of heritage and visitors.
The department appeals to hitchhikers to “poop on the toilet” and says that while most take the opportunity to relieve themselves in the toilets provided, others sometimes use the walkways. Last year the ministry reprimanded New Zealanders for disrespecting their backyard as closed borders spurred domestic tourism.
“If it’s done in nature, it can be unsightly, smelly and unhealthy,” read a campaign video from 2019.
A small cylindrical toilet on Roys Peak Track, near the Wanaka viewpoint, popular for photography. Photo: Hugh Mitton / AlamyHelicopters in public toilet cleaning service fly past Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, North Island. Photo: Mark Dunn / Alamy
Taylor said, “Our wild places don’t have many toilets. Remember to always go before you travel, and if you are going for a long walk, be properly prepared and use a toilet if possible. “
Many of the impressive long drops are attached to some of the 970 huts scattered across the more remote and distinctive parts of the country and require helicopters to fly the waste out.
The department says it is looking at ways to cut down on helicopter flights to cut costs and carbon emissions. In some places with a suitable climate, around 100 composting toilets are used, but these are located on more accessible campsites.
The oldest toilet is believed to be a 90 year old pit toilet on an old farm now managed by the department as part of the Rakiura National Park called “Island Hill Run” on Rakiura / Stewart Island.
The toilet with the most impressive height is at Empress Hut, 2,500 m on New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki / Mt. Cook in the Southern Alps.