In a community survey undertaken in late 2021, 57% of Central Otago residents stated more litter and waste generation was the number one negative impact of tourism in Central Otago.

The national benchmark for this question is 32%, highlighting that for our community this is something they are more concerned about.

It ranked higher than topical issues such as increased living costs, road safety, pressure on water and roading infrastructure, and an over reliance on tourism in the region.

The third highest ranking concern of Central Otago residents in relation to the impacts of tourism was damage caused to the natural environment.

Personally, I absolutely agree with these results.

When reviewing the survey data I felt proud that the people of Central Otago cared for our place so strongly when compared to the national benchmarks.

Visitors from overseas haven’t really returned, there is the odd one here and there, but they are scarce.

We have had a strong domestic visitor market, and that’s been awesome to see.

I really wish we had research data on how many visitors travel with their dogs.

I expect it is pretty low, but I can’t prove it conclusively.

I do know that getting on a plane or even finding accommodation where you can take a dog is hard-to-almost-impossible.

So, I make the fairly safe assumption that very few people will travel with dogs.

Imagine my horror then, when recently walking the Bannockburn Sluicings with my 2-year-old child, coming across no fewer than 18 piles of dog poo all within the first 200m of the track.

Most of it was off to the side of the trail, but you see, 2-year-olds don’t just follow trails.

They are a bit like dogs, they like to explore and go off trail.

It’s so much fun until you keep getting told by dad to “watch out for the dog poo”.

Our little walk was completely ruined by me having to watch out for dog poo, and for Beau whose opportunity to explore this amazing place was ruined by some selfish people and their dogs.

Like I stated at earlier, residents of Central Otago have told us they have such strong concerns about visitors generating litter and causing damage to our natural environment.

I had made the assumption the very few dogs that were here with their owners on holiday are the culprits for what we saw.

Maybe we should take a look at ourselves and stop blaming others for issues of our own making.

If we truly are concerned about these things as the research suggested, then maybe it is time to step up and display those good behaviours ourselves?