EXPLORING SOCIAL ASPECTS OF AIRCRAFT USE                IN  AORAKI/MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK                    Magnus Kjel...
AbstractNational parks represent recreational opportunities for the public and are often significant touristattractions. T...
AcknowledgementsThis project would not have been more than a big selection of unstructured documents on myhard-drive had i...
Table of ContentsABSTRACT                                                                IACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                ...
2.5 NOISE IMPACT AND THE LOSS OF NATURAL QUIET                               322.5.1 Noise impact research                ...
4.2.5 Attitudes towards aircraft use                                             704.2.6 Acceptance of the use of aircraft...
5.6.2 Site attributes influence attitudes towards aircraft use                     1115.6.3 Factors influencing the accept...
LIST OF TABLESTABLE 1: Presentation of participants .........................................................................
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONSAMCNP        Aoraki/Mount Cook National ParkCAA          Civil Aviation AuthorityCCMS         Canterb...
Turning a new page                     x
Chapter 1.             Introduction1.1    RESEARCH CONTEXTOutdoor recreation is a popular undertaking in New Zealand, both...
Alps, which is a large mountain area on the South Island of New Zealand. Climbers and skitourers, as well as professional ...
balancing act of securing that the “two potentially conflicting sets of values” (DOC 2004, p. 35)of conservation, and secu...
2006). A third of the park terrain is covered by permanent snow and ice and only a smallpercentage of the remainder consis...
FIGURE 1: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park including mountain huts and ROS-sectors (Source:DOC 2004)                       ...
FIGURE 2: Aoraki/Mt Cook Village with airport (Source: DOC 2004)                                                          ...
1.3      RECREATION AND GUIDING IN THE AMCNPMountaineering in New Zealand started in the Southern Alps and was for the mos...
The first true ascent of Aoraki/Mt Cook was undertaken by New Zealanders Tom Fyfe, GeorgeGraham and Jack Clarke on Christm...
Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) and today, everyone working as a mountain guide inNew Zealand is required to have part...
settings are managed with the objective of providing certain experiences like physical challenge,natural quiet, self-relia...
applied to the Routeburn Track, which purpose is to keep user numbers down in order to lessencrowding at huts and on the t...
difficult access makes it almost necessary to use aircraft in order to get to terrain suitable forguiding and training cou...
FIGURE 3: Designated landing areas within the AMCNP (Source: DOC 2004)                                                    ...
1.6    RESEARCH PROBLEMPrevious research concerned with the social effect of aircraft in the AMCNP has to a large degreefo...
participants as they are likely to possess information beyond just their own experiences. They arealso likely to have refl...
1.8     THESIS OUTLINEChapter Two, the literature review, will now proceed to present and discuss relevant literaturebased...
Chapter 2.             Literature Review2.1     INTRODUCTIONThis chapter will provide an understanding of outdoor recreati...
6. noise impact and loss of natural quiet;   7. conflict between user groups – interpersonal and social value conflict;   ...
become tantamount with engaging interaction with nature. The notion of seeking divineexperiences in nature was but one fac...
2.3.1 Perception of natural areas and wildernessRecreating and travelling in natural areas generates emotional processes i...
Denali/Mt McKinley in Alaska, and one can be very isolated and experience solitude in relativelyaccessible areas such as t...
2.3.2 User expectation and satisfactionThe concept of user expectations refers to what users expect out of their recreatio...
User satisfaction is a concept widely used by park managers and recreation researchers (Booth etal. 1999; Borrie and Birze...
In a study of the relationship between trail user groups, Beeton (1999) investigated hikers’attitudes towards horseback gr...
distinction, and it indicates the importance of the attributes of the location (or site) in theformation of users’ attitud...
as photography, catharsis/escape and the experience of wilderness environment that werefulfilled. Consequently, Ewert conc...
New Zealand, while the Federal Aviation Administration regulates the airspace above nationalparks (as is the case with the...
2.4.2 New Zealand experiences with aircraft use in national parksThere is both a recreational and a tourism demand for acc...
which the agency governs. This interest is formulated in the AMCNP Management Plan (DOC2004) as well as the GPNP (NZCA 200...
In another New Zealand study, Cessford (2000) analyzed 11 surveys of visitors to popular multi-day hiking trails (also kno...
Harbrow’s findings of interest to this research is that Homer Hut, which is associated with theclimbing areas in Fiordland...
of aircraft activity. Nevertheless, Squires noted that in the comment section of the survey,respondents had outlined that ...
“fundamental to understanding the social consequences of recreational noise” (Cessford 2000, p.69). That is because social...
Psychoacoustical research combines elements of the two previous approaches as the namesuggests. According to Gramann (1999...
Social Aspects of Aircraft use in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
Social Aspects of Aircraft use in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
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Social Aspects of Aircraft use in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
Social Aspects of Aircraft use in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
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Social Aspects of Aircraft use in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

  1. 1. EXPLORING SOCIAL ASPECTS OF AIRCRAFT USE IN AORAKI/MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK Magnus Kjeldsberg Department of Tourism University of Otago July 2009 A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Tourism at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand |
  2. 2. AbstractNational parks represent recreational opportunities for the public and are often significant touristattractions. There is a widespread use of aircraft for scenic flights and transport of guided andrecreational climbing parties in several national parks in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, andthis use can impair ground based users’ experiences and impede their recreational objectives.There has been a lack of understanding of the social aspects of aircraft use and how users ofremote - and back-country areas relate to the use of aircraft, although social impact, such as noiseannoyance, has been documented in previous research.This thesis explores the complex issue of how professional mountain guides and recreationalclimbers relate to aircraft use in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park (AMCNP), and also the socialeffects of aircraft use. This is done through a series of qualitative semi-structured interviews withthe said user groups.This study demonstrates that the participants find aircraft use acceptable in the AMCNP due tomultiple factors, many of which are site-specific. They also find benefits such as limiting severeapproaches; time savings; safety aspects; and waste management to compensate fordisadvantages such as noise pollution, loss of natural quiet and crowding. This study alsoindicates that guided and recreational climbing in the AMCNP is dependent on aircraft in order tosustain current levels of use. Aircraft use does affect user experiences by limiting the feeling ofsolitude and wilderness, but participants find that acceptable in the AMCNP since these attributesare accessible in other natural areas. Participants are found to prefer to have aircraft activityconcentrated to certain areas so that other areas can still provide natural quiet, solitude andwilderness. This study also found aircraft not to be a significant source of recreational conflict inthe AMCNP. ii
  3. 3. AcknowledgementsThis project would not have been more than a big selection of unstructured documents on myhard-drive had it not been for a few important people.First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Dr. Anna Thompson, my Masterssupervisor, who has provided great support and guidance throughout this process. Her knowledgeof mountaineering in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, the guiding industry, and of course; thepeople, has been a huge benefit for me.Huge thanks goes out to my mom and dad for their invaluable support during these last few hardmonths of writing and trying to make ends meet after I came back to Norway. You’ve both beengreat and I could not have done it without you.I would also like to thank:The Tourism Department; James Higham, for a lot of good advice as Masters Coordinator;Nicola Mitchell, for doing lots of great transcribing on short notice; and Helen Dunn, for beingvery helpful with all the inevitable organizational stuff.Sandra, for being a great support during this process, and for all the good times.Martin, fellow Norwegian, office mate and ski buddy, for giving me a taste of home again (themilk chocolate) and for some great feedback when I needed it the most. Not to mention all thegood times on the hill. Good luck with your thesis!Leif, for his ‘what’s mine is yours’ attitude, moral support, and not to mention for accepting that Iturned his kitchen into an office for a couple of months following my return to Norway.I would also like to thank Ray Bellringer at DOC, for initial conversations regarding thisresearch, and last but not least; all those who participated in this research. It is all thanks to yourgenerosity and willingness to share your experiences. Thank you. iii
  4. 4. Table of ContentsABSTRACT IACKNOWLEDGEMENTS IIITABLE OF CONTENTS IVLIST OF TABLES VIIILIST OF FIGURES VIIILIST OF ABBREVIATIONS IXCHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 11.1 RESEARCH CONTEXT 11.2 STUDY AREA BACKGROUND – THE AMCNP 31.3 RECREATION AND GUIDING IN THE AMCNP 71.4 MANAGEMENT OF RECREATION IN NEW ZEALANDS NATURAL AREAS 91.5 AIRCRAFT USE IN THE AMCNP 111.6 RESEARCH PROBLEM 141.7 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES 141.8 THESIS OUTLINE 16CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 172.1 INTRODUCTION 172.2 RECREATIONAL USE OF NATURAL AREAS 182.3 PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS INFLUENCING USER EXPERIENCES 192.3.1 Perception of natural areas and wilderness 202.3.2 User expectation and satisfaction 222.3.3 Attitudes towards aircraft use 232.3.4 Recreational motives and objectives 252.4 AIRCRAFT USE IN NATURAL AREAS AND ASSOCIATED SOCIAL EFFECTS 262.4.1 International experiences with aircraft use in national parks 262.4.2 New Zealand experiences with aircraft use in national parks 28 iv
  5. 5. 2.5 NOISE IMPACT AND THE LOSS OF NATURAL QUIET 322.5.1 Noise impact research 322.5.2 Actual effect of noise on recreationists 352.6 CONFLICT BETWEEN USER GROUPS – INTERPERSONAL AND SOCIAL VALUE CONFLICT 362.7 CROWDING AND DISPLACEMENT 382.8 SUMMARY 40CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY 413.1 INTRODUCTION 413.2 RESEARCH APPROACH 423.3 PREVIOUS RESEARCH METHODS APPLIED TO THE FIELD OF STUDY 453.4 RESEARCH ETHICS APPROVAL 463.5 CARRYING OUT THE RESEARCH 473.5.1 Preparation of the fieldwork 473.5.2 The participants 493.5.3 Interviews 513.5.4 News search 523.5.5 Analysis 533.6 RESEARCH BIAS, SUBJECTIVITY AND LIMITATIONS 543.6.1 The role of the researcher 563.6.2 Limitations of the study 573.7 SUMMARY 58CHAPTER 4. FINDINGS 594.1 INTRODUCTION 594.2 PROFESSIONALS’ RELATIONS TO AIRCRAFT 604.2.1 Extent of aircraft use 604.2.2 Benefits of aircrafts use 634.2.3 Disadvantages of aircraft use 654.2.4 Guides’ perception of aircraft effect on user experiences 68 v
  6. 6. 4.2.5 Attitudes towards aircraft use 704.2.6 Acceptance of the use of aircraft in climbing 744.3 RECREATIONALISTS’ RELATIONS TO AIRCRAFT 754.3.1 Extent of aircraft use 754.3.2 Benefits of aircraft use 764.3.3 Disadvantages of aircraft use 774.3.4 How recreationists perceive aircraft to affect the recreation experience 784.3.5 Attitudes towards aircraft use 814.3.6 Acceptance of aircraft use for climbing 844.4 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GUIDED AND RECREATIONAL PARTIES 854.5 SUMMARY 87CHAPTER 5. DISCUSSION 895.1 INTRODUCTION 895.2 EXTENT OF AIRCRAFT USE AND REASONS FOR USE 905.3 BENEFITS OF AIRCRAFT USE 915.3.1 Saves time and eliminates long approaches 915.3.2 Safety and SAR 925.3.3 Waste management 935.3.4 Less need for permanent infrastructure 945.3.5 Increased chances of achieving objectives 965.3.6 Other benefits 965.4 DISADVANTAGES OF AIRCRAFT USE 975.4.1 Noise impact and loss of natural quiet 975.4.2 Crowding 995.4.3 Loss of wilderness experience 1005.4.4 Other disadvantages 1005.5 EFFECT OF AIRCRAFT ON USER EXPERIENCES 1015.5.1 What experiences can the AMCNP provide its users? 1045.6 ATTITUDES TOWARDS AIRCRAFT USE IN THE AMCNP 1075.6.1 Perception of scenic flights 109 vi
  7. 7. 5.6.2 Site attributes influence attitudes towards aircraft use 1115.6.3 Factors influencing the acceptance of aircraft use in the AMCNP 1135.7 DOES AIRCRAFT USE CAUSE CONFLICT IN THE AMCNP? 1145.8 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 1165.8.1 The benefits of aircraft use in the AMCNP outweigh the disadvantages 1175.8.2 Guiding and most recreational activity in AMCNP is reliant on aircraft use 1185.8.3 Aircraft use has significant effect on users’ experiences 1195.8.4 Attitudes towards aircraft use are site-specific 1205.8.5 Conflict and displacement is not widespread in the AMCNP 1215.8.6 Other 1215.8.7 Summary 123REFERENCES 127APPENDICES 139APPENDIX 1: SCENIC FLIGHT PATHS 139APPENDIX 2: LEGISLATIONS AND STATUTORY FRAMEWORK 143APPENDIX 3: MWNPAUG ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY 149APPENDIX 4: INTERVIEW GUIDES 150APPENDIX 5: ETHICS PROPOSAL 152APPENDIX 6: INTRODUCTORY LETTER TO PROFESSIONAL MOUNTAIN GUIDES 159APPENDIX 7: LETTER TO NZAC SECTIONS 160 vii
  8. 8. LIST OF TABLESTABLE 1: Presentation of participants ......................................................................................... 50TABLE 2: Benefits of aircraft use as perceived by professional and recreational users .............. 91TABLE 3: Development strategies for access to mountain areas ................................................. 95TABLE 4: Disadvantages of aircraft use in the AMCNP as perceived by the participants .......... 97LIST OF FIGURESFIGURE 1: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park including mountain huts ...................................... 5FIGURE 2: Aoraki/Mt Cook Village with airport .......................................................................... 6FIGURE 3: Designated landing areas within the AMCNP ........................................................... 13FIGURE 4: Factors influencing users’ acceptance of aircraft use in the AMCNP ..................... 113FIGURE 5: The scenic flight paths of Mount Cook Ski Planes .................................................. 139FIGURE 6: Mount Cook Ski Planes West Coast flight paths .................................................... 140FIGURE 7: The Helicopter Line’s flight paths from Glentanner Park ....................................... 141FIGURE 8: The Helicopter Line’s flight paths from Twizel ...................................................... 142FIGURE 9: The Helicopter Line’s flight paths from Franz Josef and Fox Glacier Villages ...... 142 viii
  9. 9. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONSAMCNP Aoraki/Mount Cook National ParkCAA Civil Aviation AuthorityCCMS Canterbury Conservation Management StrategyDNPP Denali National Park and PreserveDOC Department of ConservationFMC Federated Mountain Clubs of New ZealandGCNP Grand Canyon National ParkGPNP General Policy for National ParksIFMGA International Federation of Mountain Guides AssociationMANP Mount Aspiring National ParkMWNPAUG Mount Cook and Westland National Parks Resident Aircraft User GroupNZAC New Zealand Alpine ClubNZCA New Zealand Conservation AuthorityNZMGA New Zealand Mountain Guides AssociationNZMT New Zealand Ministry of TourismODT Otago Daily TimesOSNZAC Otago Section of the New Zealand Alpine ClubROS Recreation Opportunity SpectrumNPS US National Parks ServiceUSDA United States Department of Agriculture, Forest ServiceWTPNP Westland/Tai Poutini National ParkYNP Yellowstone National Park ix
  10. 10. Turning a new page x
  11. 11. Chapter 1. Introduction1.1 RESEARCH CONTEXTOutdoor recreation is a popular undertaking in New Zealand, both amongst the local populationand overseas tourists. Many activities fit within this umbrella term, amongst them tramping(hiking); mountaineering; climbing; hunting and fishing; and mountainbiking. According toCessford and Dingwall (1997) there was little recreation pressure in New Zealand conservationareas, mostly due to their remoteness, until the 1970s when the country experienced a‘backcountry boom’ with massive growth in numbers of outdoor recreation participants. Theinitial growth happened because of a “greater interest in outdoor recreation among NewZealanders, made possible by improved access and increasing affluence, mobility, informationand leisure time” (Cessford and Dingwall 1997, p. 35), but much of the following growth fromthe 1980s is dominated by overseas tourists.Outdoor recreation has become incredibly important for the tourism industry over the last fewdecades. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Tourism (NZMT) (2008) around 71% of allinternational tourists and 21% of all domestic tourists participate in at least one nature-basedtourism activity. That totalled in 2006 around 15.7 million occasions where tourists took part innature based activities. When added up, the activities that relate to mountain areas (half day bushwalks, full day- or overnight tramping, glacier walks and mountain climbing) total roughly 1.8million occasions (NZMT 2008). It has also been estimated that around 1995, approximately 50percent of international visitors to New Zealand visited one or more nationally protected area(Shultis 2003, p. 61). Consequently, both the commercial as well as the recreational pressure onnatural areas such as the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park (AMCNP), has increaseddramatically during this time. The huts in the AMCNP are used for about 7000 bednights per yearaccording to the Department of Conservation (DOC) (2004), and this has been a fairly stablefigure over the last 20 years.Mountaineering and ski touring are two of the few recreational activities taking place in thealpine areas of the AMCNP. These activities as well as mountaineering related courses, are alsooffered as commercial products by mountain guide operations based in and around the Southern 1
  12. 12. Alps, which is a large mountain area on the South Island of New Zealand. Climbers and skitourers, as well as professional mountain guides, often use helicopters and ski-planes as means ofaccess to the high alpine huts and the attractive climbing areas of the AMCNP, and the borderingWestland/Tai Poutini National Park (WTPNP). These huts serve as a backbone formountaineering in the Southern Alps, functioning as base camps and providing shelter and safety.In addition to these transport or ‘charter flights’, as they are often called, an increasing number ofvisitors to both sides of the Southern Alps, choose to engage in sightseeing by aircraft, hereafterreferred to as scenic flights, to experience the alpine environment of the Southern Alps andespecially Aoraki/Mt Cook (see Appendix 1 for a detailed description of the scenic flightoperations). This results in a significant amount of air traffic in this alpine environment.Several studies have investigated how aircraft use affects nature and wildlife (Bowles 1995;Buckley 2004) and an increasing number of studies have looked into its effect on recreationalusers of natural areas. Among these are several international case studies (Miller 1999; Nugent1999; Krog and Engdahl 2004; Mace, Bell, Loomis and Haas 2003; Mace, Bell and Loomis2004) and some with a focus on aircraft impact on recreationists in New Zealand natural areas(Sutton 1998; Booth, Jones and Devlin 1999; Cessford 2000; Harbrow 2007; Squires 2007).Also, several reports have examined social impact of aircraft in the AMCNP as part of an aircraftmonitoring programme commenced by DOC in the AMCNP in 1998 (Horn 2001; McManawayand Bellringer 2002; Garrard 2005). A detailed review of this research will be presented anddiscussed in Section 2.4, but it is important to highlight that the reviewed research is fairlyconclusive that aircraft can have a significant effect on users’ experiences. Noise is likely thebiggest impact with possible effects such as loss of feeling of solitude; loss of wildernessexperience; and annoyance (Mace et al. 2004). Also, users of natural areas sometimes perceivecrowding as result of aircraft passenger transport (Squires 2007).In the AMCNP and other parts of the New Zealand conservation estate, DOC works towardsprotection and conservation of native flora, wildlife, and important habitats while concurrentlysecuring public access for recreation on the conservation estate (DOC, 1983; 2003), and assuringthat a diverse spectrum of recreational objectives can be met, such as experiencing solitude,adventure, natural quiet and partaking in recreational activities without impairing on theexperiences of other users (New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) 2005). The difficult 2
  13. 13. balancing act of securing that the “two potentially conflicting sets of values” (DOC 2004, p. 35)of conservation, and securing public enjoyment of the park, are maintained, is an important partof the DOC mandate and also an issue that causes some discrepancy. Among investedorganisations (New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC), and Federated Mountain Clubs of NewZealand (FMC)) and users of the national parks, there has been a noteworthy debate related to theeffect of aircraft use in certain national parks in New Zealand (Garrard 2007; NZAC 2008; OtagoSection of the New Zealand Alpine Club (OSNZAC) 2007; 2008). This debate directly concernsthe “potentially conflicting set of values” noted above. There has not been the same degree ofdebate about aircraft use in the AMCNP, but it was estimated that approximately 70,000 peopletook part in some form of scenic flight within the glacier regions of the AMCNP and the WTPNPin 1999, a number which has been relatively stable over the last few years, but is expected toincrease (DOC 2000; Garrard 2005). Consequently, there is the potential that recreational users’experiences in the AMCNP will become further impaired by the effects of aircraft use.1.2 STUDY AREA BACKGROUND – THE AMCNPThe AMCNP (Figure 1) is a protected natural area with a size of 70,720 hectares, situated inSouthwest Canterbury on the South Island of New Zealand (DOC 2004). The AMCNP is part ofthe Southern Alps and most of the park consists of an imposing alpine mountain environment,with Aoraki/Mt Cook as the most striking and renown feature. Aoraki/Mt Cook is the highestmountain in New Zealand and, like many other mountains in the park, feature characteristicsideal for mountaineering. These traits have made AMCNP an attractive destination for domesticas well as international mountaineers and also a desirable destination for travellers seekingimpressive mountainous scenic vistas or alpine experiences. According to the AMCNPManagement Plan, the area is also of great significance to Ngäi Tahu, the principal Māori iwi(tribe) of the southern region of New Zealand, as they consider Aoraki/Mt Cook as a symbol oftheir ancestry and thus hold the mountain sacred (DOC 2004).The area consists of a precipitous alpine environment with the highest peak, Aoraki/Mt Cookreaching 3,754 meters into the sky and nine other peaks exceeding 3,000 meters. The more well-known of these, especially for recreation purposes, include Mt Tasman (3,497m), Malte Brun(3,198m), Mt Sefton (3,151m), Mt Elie De Baumont (3,151m) and La Perouse (3,078m) (NZAC 3
  14. 14. 2006). A third of the park terrain is covered by permanent snow and ice and only a smallpercentage of the remainder consists of relatively flat terrain, mainly in the Godley, Tasman andHooker Valleys (DOC 2004).Parts of the AMCNP have been designated as conservation areas since 1885, when the Hookerand Mueller Valleys became ‘recreational reserves’ due to recreational concerns with localfarming practices and economic concerns of preserving the area for tourism purposes (DOC2004). Additional areas, namely the Tasman Valley, the Murchison Valley and the GodleyGlaciers were given the same status in 1887, 1917 and 1927. Much due to lobbying from theNZAC and other clubs and a public debate, the National Parks Act 1953 was passed and theexisting protectorate was expanded and given status as Mount Cook National Park (DOC 2004).Recreation and tourism in the AMCNP was highly dependent on accommodation andinfrastructure in the area, and in 1884 the first accommodation in the area, the Hermitage, wasbuilt. The area has remained one of New Zealand’s premier tourist attractions and climbing areas,and today the area adjacent to the site of the old Hermitage has developed into a village withseveral forms of accommodations (including the new Hermitage), a visitor centre, a DOC AreaOffice and an airport (Figure 2) which is used for the ski-plane operations by the companyAoraki/Mt Cook Ski Planes. In addition there is an airfield at Glentanner about 14 kilometresoutside the park boundary, which is used by a helicopter operation (Helicopter Line) servicingpark users and offering scenic flight tours. 4
  15. 15. FIGURE 1: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park including mountain huts and ROS-sectors (Source:DOC 2004) 5
  16. 16. FIGURE 2: Aoraki/Mt Cook Village with airport (Source: DOC 2004) 6
  17. 17. 1.3 RECREATION AND GUIDING IN THE AMCNPMountaineering in New Zealand started in the Southern Alps and was for the most partundertaken with guides in the early years. The first true alpine endeavour in New Zealand isclaimed to be the crossing of the Main Divide (the central part of the Southern Alps) bygeological surveyor Dr James Hector and his two companions in 1863. Hector and company wereon a search for a trade route from east to west which led them up the west Matukituki Valley inwhat is now the Mount Aspiring National Park (MANP), and across parts of the Bonar Glacierusing ropes and ice axes, before ascending into Waipara Valley (Davidson 2002). Other earlyalpine exploration includes surveyor Edward Sealy’s trips up the Tasman and Godley glaciers(climbing almost to the top of Hochstetter Dome) in what is now the AMCNP. These expeditionswere important because they provided useful information and inspiration for later mountaineers(Wilson 2007). Classifying these undertaking as recreation may seem farfetched given theirpurposes, but at that time, as in Europe where mountaineering evolved, recreation, science,mountaineering and exploring were highly intertwined (Hansen 1995; Freedgood 2000; Davidson2002).It is commonly acknowledged that mountaineering in New Zealand was initiated by visitingBritish mountaineers during the last two decades of the 19th century (Davidson 2002). Thehighest peaks of New Zealand were the main focus of overseas climbers right from the beginningof the country’s climbing history, and Aoraki/Mt Cook was the main objective and the biggestprice. The first attempt to conquer Mt Cook was initiated by British Reverend WilliamSpotswood Green, a member of the recent English Alpine Club, which was formed in 1857(Davidson 2002). This pioneering trip, which took place in 1882, was also the first example ofguided mountaineering in the Aoraki/Mt Cook region, as Reverend Green was accompanied byEmil Boss and Swizz guide Ulrich Kauffman (Carr 1997; Davidson 2002). They got within 60meters of the summit before they had to return. Inspired by the overseas climbers and theirguides, a very small mountaineering and guiding community was formed in the vicinity of theSouthern Alps. Guided mountaineering in New Zealand advanced with the increase in visitors tothe Southern Alps after the Hermitage was built (Carr 1997), and self-taught local mountaineerswere employed as guides. Given the importance of the Aoraki/Mt Cook area for tourism, it wasnot long before guides were employed directly by the Government Tourist Department (ibid). 7
  18. 18. The first true ascent of Aoraki/Mt Cook was undertaken by New Zealanders Tom Fyfe, GeorgeGraham and Jack Clarke on Christmas Day 1894. It is fair to say that the first ascent ofAoraki/Mt Cook was an amateur undertaking, although the members of the team worked asguides at the newly established Hermitage. These men were part of the first generationmountaineers in New Zealand and are acknowledged to have, to a large degree, established bothrecreational and guided climbing in the Southern Alps (Leonard 2007; NZMGA 2009).Until the 1930s, mountaineering in the Southern Alps and what came to be the AMCNP, wasmost commonly undertaken in the company of guides. During the following years, tramping,skiing and ultimately mountaineering became increasingly popular past times amongst thedomestic population (Carr 1997; Wilson 2008). The NZAC which had been formed as early as1891 but “went into recess around 1896” (Wilson 2008, p. 9) was restored around 1914 andbecame very active in the 1930s. It had previously been modelled after the Alpine Club ofEngland, targeting upper class people and excluding guides, but as few New Zealand climberswere upper class people, this model did not allow for many members. Wilson (2008) writes thatmost early New Zealand climbers were either working class or middle class people and that “thedivision between amateur and professional was always blurred” (Wilson 2008, p. 9). Other clubswas established in the same period like the Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club (1923) andthe Canterbury Mountaineering Club (1925). All of the above clubs were important for therecruitment to the sport, but also because they built huts and shelters in the mountains allowingfor easier access to, and better living conditions in the mountains (Wilson 2008).At the same time as recreational climbing expanded, guiding went into recess. Guidedmountaineering almost ceased entirely from the 1930s, until 1967 when Alpine Instructions Ltd.(later Alpine Guides Ltd) was established (Wilson 2008; NZMGA 2009). This company alsooffered instruction courses as well as guided ascents, and during the last decades it has becomecommon for recreational climbers and trampers to get their first introduction to alpine climbingthrough such instructions courses.The establishment of other guiding companies and the need for a New Zealand standard of guidetraining led to the establishment of the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association (NZMGA) in1975 (NZMGA 2009). This organisation later became part of the International Federation of 8
  19. 19. Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) and today, everyone working as a mountain guide inNew Zealand is required to have partly or fully completed the IFMGA education process. TheNZMGA has implemented safety standards, training and qualifications for professional guides inNew Zealand, and has per 2009 a total of 36 fully qualified IFMGA mountain guides in theirregistry, and multiple guides with qualifications as ski guide, climbing guide or alpine trekkingguide (NZMGA 2009).The guiding activities taking place in the AMCNP consist of guided summit ascents, variousmountaineering and rescue safety courses, and advanced, alpine trekking often involving glacierterrain (DOC 2004). Other, less physically committing guided trips also exist in the so-called‘front-country’ of the AMCNP (see Section 1.4), such as walks up to Blue Lakes or Hooker Lake(Figure 2), but these do not require NZMGA qualifications, nor are they consideredmountaineering, and for these reasons (and for the purpose of the research) they are not taken intoaccount. Currently, several mountain guiding companies hold concessions for commercialoperations in the AMCNP, and they require aircraft for transporting clients and gear into themountains.1.4 MANAGEMENT OF RECREATION IN NEW ZEALAND’S NATURAL AREASManagement organisations such as DOC have to manage both recreational and commercial use ofnatural areas such as national parks, while simultaneously maintaining a conservational focus(DOC 2004). One of the tools widely deployed for managing use of natural areas is theRecreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS). This section will briefly describe the ROS and how it isapplied by DOC in the management of the AMCNP.The ROS is a recreation planning method which in New Zealand was developed and applied tomeet the booming recreational demand of natural areas with development of facilities like hutsand tracks, while simultaneously securing that some real wilderness areas remain. In this contextwilderness is considered “wild landscapes offering the opportunity for recreation entirelyunsupported by facilities like huts and tracks” (DOC 2003, p. 6). The ROS was designed to “toidentify the range of settings appropriate for different recreation activities from wilderness tofront-country which caters for a wider section of potential visitors” (DOC 2003, p. 6). These 9
  20. 20. settings are managed with the objective of providing certain experiences like physical challenge,natural quiet, self-reliance and isolation in designated areas (DOC 2004). Besides being animportant management tool, ROS also enables park users to choose which area to go to, based onwhat experiences they aspire and the properties of the area as described in the ROS (ibid). In theAMCNP, the settings used by DOC to describe the different areas of the park are: 1. Backcountry remote; 2. Backcountry walk in; 3. Backcountry accessible - motorised; 4. Front-country – short-stop; 5. Highways, roadside opportunities and visitor service sites. (DOC 2004, p. 31)The ROS definitions as applied in the AMCNP are pictured in Figure 1. Note that the AMCNPROS does not include a ‘Wilderness area’ setting. That is because there are no areas in theAMCNP that meets DOC’s criteria for a ‘Wilderness area’. A description of a ‘Wilderness area’is presented in the next paragraph.In addition to the above mentioned benefits of the ROS, the settings also work as guidelines forthe development of visitor facilities such as huts and tracks, and the nature and standard of these.They also guide management of concession activities such as aircraft use in the attempt toprevent these from impairing other users’ experiences, and they “assist in the management ofadverse effects (e.g. aircraft noise) or conflicts between visitor activities” (DOC 2004, p. 31).Cessford and Dingwall define a New Zealand wilderness area in a management perspective, as anarea with “no apparent modification and no huts, tracks, bridges, signs or other facilities” (1997,p. 41). Wilderness in this perspective also requires that there is no motorised access available andthat it requires at least half a day’s walk from the nearest access point. Cessford and Dingwalladmit that these distinctions are primarily useful for management purposes and recognise thatthere are many ‘Remote’ and ‘Backcountry walk-in’ areas that appear similar to the user and willprovide much the same experiences (this notion is further discussed in Section 2.3.1).Consequently, DOC tries to cater for ‘wilderness experiences’ outside the wilderness areas andthey consider the best way to do so is by maintaining an impression of unaltered natural settingsand minimal apparent visitor numbers. One example of this is the reservation system recently 10
  21. 21. applied to the Routeburn Track, which purpose is to keep user numbers down in order to lessencrowding at huts and on the track (ibid).1.5 AIRCRAFT USE IN THE AMCNPAircraft have a long-standing history of use in the AMCNP, which reaches back beyond HarryWigley’s vision of fitting small planes with retractable skis in order to land on the glacier snow,thus enabling passengers of all ages and abilities to visit the spectacular areas of the park. Scenicflights had actually been operating allowing passengers to view these areas from above beforethis time. With the invention of the ski-plane however, it was made possible to take off using thewheel set while landing with the skis on the snow (Mount Cook Ski Planes 2009). The first ski-plane landing occurred in 1955, and the subsequent ski-plane business revolutionised tourism inthe region and also provided mountaineers with fast and easy access to the high mountain (DOC2004; Mount Cook Ski Planes 2009). Helicopters were later introduced for use in mountain areasand provided different options than the ski-plane in terms of take-off and landing requirements.The introduction of aircraft made it possible to build huts high on the mountain, the GrandPlateau Hut being one of them, providing climbers with better facilities and better access (DOC2004). The ski-plane operations in the AMCNP are run by Mt Cook Ski Planes which is basedwithin the Park, at Mt Cook Airport (Figure 2). The main helicopter operation in the area is runby the Helicopter Line which is based at Glentanner, approximately 14 kilometres south of thepark boundary (DOC 2004). Both companies offer scenic flights as well as transports climbersand guided groups to designated landing areas in the park (see Figure 3 for an overview ofdesignated landing sites). In addition, there are several companies in the surrounding area thatoffer scenic flights (using both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft) but do not land within thepark (DOC 2004).Since its introduction, aircraft use has had a substantial significance for recreational andprofessional mountaineers. Mountain professionals, such as guides, utilise aircraft in conjunctionwith most of their mountaineering related products, such as ascending Aoraki/Mt Cook, ski-touring trips and mountain skills courses. The glaciers which in previous years provided goodaccess in the park have receded dramatically during the last few decades, making the accessmuch more difficult and the moraine walls on the glacier sides, unstable (DOC 2004). The 11
  22. 22. difficult access makes it almost necessary to use aircraft in order to get to terrain suitable forguiding and training courses, as this study will show. In the AMCNP, aircraft landings have beenlimited by DOC to the upper parts of the Tasman and Murchison glaciers, and the Grand Plateau(Figure 3) (DOC 2004). This recognises the importance of aircraft as means of access to the highalpine huts often used by mountaineers, ski tourers and commercial guided parties. The head ofthe Tasman and Murchison Glaciers are mostly used for commercial mountain skills courses andrecreational climbing and ski-touring, and the Grand Plateau for climbing and Aoraki/Mt Cookascents (DOC 2004) (research participants also confirmed this). In addition, the head of Fox andFranz Josef glaciers in the adjacent WTPNP is also used extensively for similar purposes (DOC2004). DOC has the mandate to regulate all traffic and commercial activity on the estate but theirmandate is limited to land based activities only (see Appendix 2 for a summary of the relevantlegislative context). The activity in the airspace above national parks and conservation areas isregulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) (Tal 2004; Garrard 2005; CAA 2009a). Forflying in natural areas such as in the AMCNP, the CAA regulations demand a minimum heightabove ground level of 500 feet, as opposed to urban areas where the minimum height is 1000 feet(CAA 2009b). There is not much in terms of legal regulations controlling conservation land andnational parks overflights, and DOC has little jurisdiction in this matter (Tal 2004). DOC doeshowever, control aircraft landings on their estate and control concessions for commercialoperators who apply for landing permits. This situation has long been a problematic issue forDOC since they arguably cannot fully execute their directive when not being able to control oneof the most perceptible activities occurring on the conservation estate (Tal 2004).With the lack of specified legal regulations concerning flights in the airspace above the AMCNP,the Mount Cook and Westland National Parks Resident Aircraft User Group (MWNPAUG) wasestablished (DOC 2004), largely in order to maintain a high standard of safety within the localindustry but also as medium for cooperation with DOC. This group consists of localconcessionaires and other commercial operators utilising the airspace above the AMCNP(Garrard 2005). The MWNPAUG stipulates the ‘environmental policy’ for aircraft operations inthe AMCNP which can be found in the AMCNP Management Plan 2004 (see Appendix 3 for theguidelines as presented in the AMCNP Management Plan 2004). 12
  23. 23. FIGURE 3: Designated landing areas within the AMCNP (Source: DOC 2004) 13
  24. 24. 1.6 RESEARCH PROBLEMPrevious research concerned with the social effect of aircraft in the AMCNP has to a large degreefocused on measuring levels of users’ annoyance with aircraft, using a quantitative approach(Booth et al. 1999; Garrard 2005). While being able to identify if aircraft annoyance at themonitoring sites exceeds threshold levels (Booth et al. 1999) and providing management withlongitudinal statistics of annoyance levels which can identify changes over time (ibid), they donot reveal much about the meaning of the use of aircraft in the park and how it affects the parkusers. Another question which has not previously been addressed relates to why aircraft usecauses annoyance and other social impacts, and equally interesting, why aircraft activity does notcause more annoyance given the documented extent of use and the associated noise. As noted inSection 1.1, aircraft activity can be a source of social impacts and conflict in several naturalareas, but this appears not to be the case in the AMCNP regardless of the relatively high level ofaircraft use as stated in the AMCNP Management Plan: “Scenic and other aircraft traffic in bothAoraki/Mount Cook National Park and Westland/Tai Poutini National Park is considerable”(DOC 2004, p. 112). This will be discussed further in Section 2.4.Aircraft activity in the AMCNP has increased dramatically during the past two decades and isexpected to increase more in the future (Garrard 2005). For those reasons it is important tounderstand the complexity of the effect aircraft has on park users’ experiences, something whichcan contribute to the understanding of what factors instigate aircraft annoyance and other effectsin some areas, while not in others.1.7 AIMS AND OBJECTIVESBased on the knowledge gaps outlined in the above section, this research aims to explore howdifferent user groups relate to the use of aircraft and how it affects their experiences of using thepark. Partly because there is only a small body of research related to users of the high alpine areasof the park (DOC Community Relations Manager for AMCNP, R. Bellringer, pers. com. 2008),and partly because of the researcher’s own interest in the climbing culture and community,recreational climbers/ski tourers and mountain guides were selected as participating user groups.Due to the nature of the research, only experienced users of the AMCNP were chosen as 14
  25. 25. participants as they are likely to possess information beyond just their own experiences. They arealso likely to have reflected on any issues of contention in the AMCNP given that they haveundertaken several trips in the area. The selection of participants is discussed further in Chapter3. The fieldwork consists of a total of thirteen in-depth interviews (yielding a total of 10 hoursand 20 minutes of recorded material), of which five are with recreational climbers/ski tourers,and the remaining eight are with professional mountain guides.As noted in Section 1.1, there has been some debate about the use of aircraft in national parks inNew Zealand, especially in the MANP. The issues of contention have been the social impacts ofaircraft and the threat they pose on natural quiet (Garrard 2007; NZAC 2008; OSNZAC 2007;2008). Research has documented some level of conflict in the popular climbing area of theMANP partly due to aircraft use (Squires 2007). In addition, previous research has as noted (andfurther discussed in Chapter 2) focused mostly on ground-based users’ annoyance with aircraft,while not much has been investigated in terms of the benefits of aircraft use. Consequently, theissue of aircraft use in natural areas has become somewhat ‘conflict oriented’. To investigate ifthis notion is accurate or misleading, this study aims to explore the benefits and disadvantages ofaircraft use, and establish whether aircraft cause any conflict in the AMCNP. Also, since aircraftuse is an integral of the mountain guide operations in the AMCNP, and the guides and therecreational climbers use the same areas and the same huts, this study aims to disclose if there areany issues of conflict between the two participating user groups.To sum up, the aim of the research is to explore the complex issue of how recreational andprofessional users of the AMCNP relate to the use of aircraft.In order to achieve this aim, a number of research objectives were determined. The objectives ofthis research are to: 1. identify the benefits and disadvantages of aircraft use in the AMCNP; 2. explore how aircraft use affects users’ experiences in the AMCNP; 3. investigate if aircraft use is a source of conflict in the AMCNP; 4. disclose any issues of conflict between mountain guides and recreational users of the AMCNP. 15
  26. 26. 1.8 THESIS OUTLINEChapter Two, the literature review, will now proceed to present and discuss relevant literaturebased on the research problem and the aims and objectives of the research. It will begin withdiscussing recreational use of natural areas and relevant psychological factors which influencerecreational experiences. This is followed by a discussion of literature concerning aircraft use innatural areas and the implications and impacts such use can have on recreational users of theseareas. The chapter is finalised with a presentation and discussion of research related to conflictand crowding, which has been the focus of much of the existing research concerning aircraft usein natural areas.The third chapter will describe the methodology used for this research. A qualitative researchapproach has been chosen and information has been gathered through thirteen in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Two user groups are explored; professional mountain guides andrecreational climbers. Benefits and disadvantages of using a qualitative approach will beexplained and a detailed description of the fieldwork will be given. The chapter finally reflects onthe study’s subjectivity, bias and limitations.The fourth chapter presents the research findings. These are divided into the respectiveparticipant groups, and organised to reflect the aims and objectives and relevant themes identifiedin the literature review.Chapter Five discuss the research findings in relation to the theories presented in the literaturereview and other existing research. This chapter is organised similarly to the previous chapter,and discusses the findings in relation to benefits and disadvantages of aircraft use; userexperiences of aircraft; user attitudes towards aircraft; and issues of conflict related to aircraftuse. Finally, the research conclusions and recommendations are presented. 16
  27. 27. Chapter 2. Literature Review2.1 INTRODUCTIONThis chapter will provide an understanding of outdoor recreation and discuss research previouslyundertaken on the topic of social aspects of aircraft use in natural areas. There is a limited bodyof research investigating this topic, and few of those have aimed to understand how recreationistsrelate to aircraft activity and how it affects their use of the area. As such, much of the researchdiscussed in this chapter deals with other forms of recreational use of natural areas and otherforms of motorised use of natural areas.There is quite a large body of research available in relation to environmental impacts ofmotorised use (including aircraft use) of natural areas, especially in relation to wildlife (Bowles1995; Cole and Landres 1995), and there is some consensus amongst researchers that motorisedmeans of transport and recreation have a negative impact on wildlife and the environment(Buckley 2004; Tal 2004). However, since the scope of this research is social aspects of aircraftusage, research concerning environmental issues will not be discussed further, althoughenvironmental values can factor in on some users experience of, or attitudes towards aircraft usein natural areas. Much of the existing research on social aspects of aircraft use is concerned withthe impact of aircraft in relation to airports and urban settings (Fields 1993; Anderson 2004), orfocus on acoustic sound levels (Ambrose and Burson 2004; Krog and Engdahl 2004) andannoyance threshold (Booth et al 1999; Cessford 2000).Before the commencement of the fieldwork for this thesis, several social aspects related to use ofaircraft or other motorised modes of transport in natural recreational areas were identified in theexisting literature: 1. perception of natural areas and wilderness; 2. visitors’ expectation and satisfaction; 3. users’ attitudes (towards aircraft); 4. recreational motives and objectives; 5. aircraft use in natural areas and its associated social effects; 17
  28. 28. 6. noise impact and loss of natural quiet; 7. conflict between user groups – interpersonal and social value conflict; 8. crowding and displacement.This literature review will discuss research relevant to each of these issues in order ofappearance. The first four points are collected under Section 2.3 (Psychological factorsinfluencing user experiences) as they can all be considered psychological constructs rather thanhaving external aspects. But before that an overview of factors which have led to thedevelopment of outdoor recreation as a phenomenon will be presented.2.2 RECREATIONAL USE OF NATURAL AREASRecreational use of natural areas, or outdoor recreation, is a modern and Western phenomenonthat evolved during the nineteenth century. Recreation and leisure occurred to a large extent as aproduct of abundance, and as such it is perhaps natural that it has its roots in the middle- andupper class society of Victorian England (Hansen 1995; Freedgood 2000). The RomanticMovement also originated in the same culture during the second half of the nineteenth century,and it spurred a major shift in how people perceived natural areas. Previously, Western cultureshad mostly perceived natural areas as wastelands and of little value unless they could be utilised,and mountains in particular were seen as places of fear which lacked the presence of God. TheRomantic Movement however, saw natural areas as being examples of the vastness of God’screation, and the most extreme examples of the vastness of the creation were mountains.Consequently, they were seen as sacred and sublime objects (Cronon 1995; Hansen 1995;Freedgood 2000). Places of spectacular scenery became places of ‘worship’, and visiting andviewing natural areas became a popular recreational undertaking (Hansen 1995). Chamonix andother places in the European Alps, as well as North American areas like Yellowstone and Banffwere among the first destinations to become subject to this new type of tourism. But Hansen(1995) argues that when the emphasis in experiencing the sublime changed from sublime objectsto sublime emotions, it became a sacred act to seek experiences in nature because that provided aspiritual contact with the creation. Accordingly, recreational use of natural areas evolved frombeing distinguished by passive, disengaged observation of extraordinary natural features, to 18
  29. 29. become tantamount with engaging interaction with nature. The notion of seeking divineexperiences in nature was but one factor in the development of outdoor recreation, as it cametogether with the strong traditions of global exploration as well as scientific exploration of thattime. Especially the latter was an important factor in the development of mountaineering, as mostearly mountain exploration happened in the name of science and the early mountaineers carriedall sorts of scientific equipment to carry out measurements (Bonington 1992; Hansen 1995). Buteventually mountaineering evolved as a recreational undertaking in itself, and the European Alpswith Chamonix, Mount Blanc and the Matterhorn became the focal points of the growing activity(Bonington 1992; Hansen 1995). As noted in Section 1.3, geographical explorations, such assurveying, are considered predecessor to the mountaineering culture in New Zealand, but thathappened at a later stage than that of the development in Europe.Cronon (1995) argues that the notion of sublime experiences in nature is still influencing the waywe see and experience nature today and that this notion also has dictated our preference forestablishment of national parks. This theory can also contribute to a deeper understanding as towhy people seek experiences in natural areas of such inhospitable nature such as the AMCNP,and why the issue of natural quiet is so sensitive. Users of such areas seek experiences that can beseen as being related to the notion of sublime experiences (ibid). Examples of extraordinaryscenic landscapes’ potential to evoke feelings are frequently found in literature from the past twocenturies, perhaps most famously so from artist like William Wordsworth and John Muir. Thefirst detailed description of the impressive AMCNP landscape, given by geologist and explorerJulius Von Haast in 1862, can pose a fitting example of such: “It was towards evening when this grand sight first burst upon us. The majestic forms of Mount Cook, Mount Haidinger, of the Moorhouse range, and many other wild craggy peaks covered with snow and ice, rose in indescribable grandeur before us, and whilst the summits were gilded by the last rays of the sun, the broad valley of the Tasman was already enveloped in deep purple shade. It was a moment of extreme delight, never to be forgotten.” (Von Haast. 1948, p. 209, in DOC 2004, p. 26)2.3 PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS INFLUENCING USER EXPERIENCESThis section presents a number of important psychological factors influencing user experiences.These factors are often a central part of research related to the subject of recreational use ofnatural areas. 19
  30. 30. 2.3.1 Perception of natural areas and wildernessRecreating and travelling in natural areas generates emotional processes in most people. Theseprocesses are hard to explain but they have been the subject of many discussions, writings andresearch, some of which will be discussed in this section. Recreating in natural surroundingsprovides us with more than physical exercise and fresh air. Kaplan (1995) argues that the naturalenvironment is particularly rich in characteristics that provide restoration for people sufferingfrom stress and related difficulties. He argues that restoration occurs due to the effortlessattention required by the natural surroundings, the exploration desire which often is triggeredwhen one engages with natural areas, and by experiencing surroundings which one has desired toexperience or is compatible with (ibid). There is a large body of research focusing on personalbenefits of outdoor recreation, but it is beyond the scope of this thesis to focus intensively on thistopic. However, it has previously been concluded that “in pursuing recreational activities inprotected areas, park visitors obtain a prodigious range and depth of psychological andphysiological benefits that manifest themselves throughout individuals and wider society”(Shultis 2003, p. 70).Some of the major attributes of national parks and other natural areas are their potential toprovide natural quiet and solitude (Booth et al 1999; Tal 2004; DOC 2004), and an option to‘escape’ the stressors of urban life and experience nature (Stein and Lee 1995; Rolston III 2003)which for many provides a sense of restoration as discussed in the previous paragraph. It can beseen as a paradox then that an increase in people engaging in outdoor recreation to experience thesaid benefits, can potentially derive the participants of what they seek to achieve (DOC 2004). Inthat sense, natural quiet and solitude can be considered commodities or resources which can getdepleted.While natural area management have clear definitions of what is front- and back-country areas(as shown in Section 1.4) and what is to be considered wilderness, most natural area users are notlikely to relate to these sector boundaries drawn on a map. What a backcountry or wildernessexperience consists of is actually very difficult to define. Should it be based on the remoteness ofthe location or does the individual’s perception define whether he/she is having a wildernessexperience? Obviously, one can encounter lots of people on some very remote places like 20
  31. 31. Denali/Mt McKinley in Alaska, and one can be very isolated and experience solitude in relativelyaccessible areas such as the head of the Rakaia River in South Canterbury.As briefly mentioned in Section 1.4, there are several ways of defining wilderness and wildernessexperiences. Higham, Kearsley and Kliskey (2000, p. 218) define wilderness as “a concept thathas both a physical and a perceptual meaning”. Perceptual meaning implies that recreationists canachieve wilderness experiences wherever they perceive they are in wilderness settings. Thatcould be in virtually any natural environment (Higham et al. 2000). If catering for wildernessexperiences is a managerial goal then it should be important to also consider what the usersperceive as wilderness, since it is “likely that the majority of wilderness experiences can beaccommodated in non-wilderness areas” (Higham et al 2000, p. 218). In that case, true wildernessareas can maintain very low user levels which benefits wildlife and vegetation, and other areascan provide recreational wilderness experiences. Higham et al. also suggest that low keydevelopments such as basic huts and tracks should not diminish the wilderness experience for allbut the most “purist of wilderness adventurers” (ibid), which implies that the fraction of outdoorrecreationists that require ‘true’ wilderness in the physical sense in order to have a wildernessexperience, is very small.A definition of the perceptive wilderness concept will differ greatly from a definition of thephysical wilderness concept. Higham et al. (2000, p. 218) loosely characterise wilderness as a“personal construct that can be defined as an image that varies from person to person”. Thisperception fit well with how the conception of wilderness as we know it came about, as describedin Section 2.2. In this perspective, wilderness is a concept that is ever changing, and is dependenton cultural as well as individual references. Higham et al suggest that wilderness “exists wherepersonal cognitions dictate; different people perceive wilderness in different ways and indifferent places, but, for each of them, wilderness exists in that place, although it might not forothers” (2000, p. 218). Wilderness experiences are thus emotional states which emerge if thephysical conditions are right, as ‘defined’ by the individual. 21
  32. 32. 2.3.2 User expectation and satisfactionThe concept of user expectations refers to what users expect out of their recreation experience.For example, users who expect to experience little or no aircraft activity are more likely tobecome adversely affected by aircraft encounters or have a less satisfying recreation experience(Booth et al. 1999). A study by Shelby (1980) aimed to improve the understanding of therelationship between crowding and user satisfaction (a concept which will be discussed shortly),found that user density and interaction has virtually no impact on user satisfaction, contrary to theassumption of many previous studies (ibid). Rather, Shelby argued that the individual users’expectations to the recreation experience, and also the users’ values had a major impact on usersatisfaction. The importance of users’ expectations was also highlighted in an earlier study. Clarkand Stankey (1979) were some of the first to discuss noise impact on recreationists and theyreasoned that the recreationists’ tolerance level for mechanical noise depended on theirexpectations based on the areas development level. They argued that in an un-developed or lessdeveloped natural area, users were likely to believe that noise would not be prevalent thusexpecting little noise impact, whereas if visiting a developed area they would be likely to expect acertain presence of human produced sounds and consequently be more tolerant towards thesesounds.Evidence of the importance of user expectation is found also in aircraft impact specific research.A study by Sutton (1998) of aircraft impact in the front-country areas of the WTPNP, found ahigher annoyance level amongst users of the rugged bush-walks in the valley sides than the usersof the valley floor trails which are easier to access. He assumed this to be related to differences inexpectations between the two user groups. This assumption supports findings by Kariel (1990)who compared how mountaineers and roadside campers perceived and evaluated differentnatural, human and non-natural (technological) sounds. Kariel found mountaineers to be morenegative towards human and non-natural sounds than the other group but also more positive thanthe other group towards natural sounds. This indicates that different user groups have differentexpectations but also different motivations, which will be discussed in the following section(2.3.4). Both Sutton (1998) and Booth et al. (1999) suggest that the difference in annoyance withaircraft from front- and backcountry users is caused by the expectations users of more remoteareas have of encountering fewer other users and fewer aircraft. 22
  33. 33. User satisfaction is a concept widely used by park managers and recreation researchers (Booth etal. 1999; Borrie and Birzel 2001; Tarrant and Smith 2002), which can be described as a measureof people’s satisfaction with their recreational experiences in a given area (Booth et al. 1999). Asimilar but inverse concept is the visitor annoyance measurement widely used by DOC in theirrecreational management of New Zealand conservation land (Booth et al 1999). Visitorannoyance measures the level of annoyance among users of a given area, and in New Zealand therecommended threshold value is 25 percent annoyance before any management action is required(Cessford 2000; DOC 2004). For instance, in the AMCNP, Garrard (2005) measured anannoyance level of 27 percent at Mueller Hut (see Figure 2) which is around the same level aswas recorded in 2000, 2001 and 2002 (ibid).Both user expectation and satisfaction have been closely linked to the concept of visitorexpectation (Shelby 1980; Booth et al. 1999). Shelby (1980) argues that a concept like usersatisfaction is perceptive and highly contextual, which makes it difficult to measure. The samecan probably be said about user expectation. These are psychological factors influencing theusers’ experiences and as all psychological concepts, they are inherently difficult to quantify andmeasure.2.3.3 Attitudes towards aircraft useIndividual attitudes are also considered an important factor of how users perceive theirexperience. For instance, Booth et al. (1999) found recreationists to show less annoyance withaircraft if the purpose of the flight was either search and rescue (SAR) or management related.Scenic flights however, were not thought (by users) to serve equally important purposes, andwere thus considered unnecessary by many. In this case the individuals’ attitudes towardsdifferent types of aircraft use affect how they feel towards the impact of the aircraft.An attitude is in social psychology defined as “a cognition, often with some degree of aversionor attraction (emotional valence), that reflects the classification and evaluation of objects andevents” (Encyclopedia Britannica (website) 2009). This implies that an attitude is either apositive or negative view about an object. 23
  34. 34. In a study of the relationship between trail user groups, Beeton (1999) investigated hikers’attitudes towards horseback groups. Beeton (1999; 2006) found that many of the participantsdisplayed attitudes towards horseback groups without having encountered such groups and assuch their attitudes were preconceived. Those walkers having met horse riders actually displayedmore positive attitudes than those who had not had an encounter. This finding corresponds withthe findings of Cessford (2003) who studied the relationship between hikers and mountainbikerson the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand. Cessford found that those hikers who encounteredbikers displayed more positive attitudes towards them then those who had not met any bikers.Beeton (2006) suggest that these findings “reinforce the influence that attitudes formed throughmeans other than personal experience can have, especially from a negative aspect” (Beeton 2006,p. 51). This highlights the importance of user group interaction for increased satisfaction withuser experiences. These findings suggest that users are more tolerant of each other and moreforthcoming towards the other’s requirements the more they know about the other’s needs andbehaviour. Interaction in the form of knowledge sharing can also be facilitated by managementon order to increase awareness, and thus understanding about other user groups.While some have indicated that users of motorised transport have more consumptive and activity-based attitudes towards outdoor recreation (Jackson and Wong 1982; Jackson 1986; Shultis2001), Davenport and Borrie (2005) present findings that goes across the common beliefs aboutrecreational snowmobilers as “thrill seeking” individuals. They state that “non-motorised andmotorised recreationists are commonly pitted against one another as having divergent activity andexperience preferences, natural resource values, and environmental attitudes” (Davenport andBorrie 2005, p. 151). However, in their study of recreational snowmobilers visiting YellowstoneNational Park (YNP), they found that snowmobiling in YNP is perceived as a means of transportin order to experience the park rather than an attractive activity in itself. The researchers carriedout 93 personal interviews with YNP visitors, of which 65 were using snowmobiles. The mostimportant incentive for visiting the park seemed to be interaction with wildlife and experiencingthe unique geothermal nature. Another interesting finding was that the snowmobile users actuallydifferentiated between snowmobiling in YNP and other places, expressing that in the YNP it was“touring” rather than “real snowmobiling”. They were using snowmobiles to get around the parkin order to experience the park and the nature, and not to ‘play around’. This is a very important 24
  35. 35. distinction, and it indicates the importance of the attributes of the location (or site) in theformation of users’ attitudes towards an activity or engagement at a particular location. The usersalso displayed concerns with the environmental impact of snowmobile use, but considered it theonly way to get a comprehensive experience of the YNP. Davenport and Borrie’s findingsactually support much earlier findings by Jackson and Wong (1982) who could not find anydifferences in the importance snowmobilers and skiers place on feeling a part of nature, despitesuggesting that snowmobilers are machine-oriented and value the activity, adventure and socialinteractions rather than interaction with nature (Jackson and Wong 1982; Davenport and Borrie2005).2.3.4 Recreational motives and objectivesMotivation for outdoor recreation is a complex field and it is beyond the scope of this research toexplain all known aspects of it. Ewert defines motivation as a “set of internal and external factorsthat arouse or direct human behavior” (1993, p. 336) and adds that recreational motivation can bedescribed as “a construct that is activity dependent, goal directed and related to leisure need”(ibid). Motivation is thus a psychological process and it is believed to be a product of humandesire to achieve particular outcomes or benefits (Manfredo, Driver and Tarrant 1996).As previously noted (Section 2.3.1), recreation in natural settings has been found to have arestorative effect on people. Kaplan and Kaplan (1989) suggest that humans have specific needsthat can be fulfilled in interaction with nature due to the psychological, social, and physiologicalexperiences which cannot be as easily obtained in an urban setting. Taking this to an even morebasal level, Ulrich (1993) actually argues that the restorative effect of natural areas is a result ofhuman adaptation through evolution. Taking this into account, a basic sort of motivation foroutdoor recreation could be natural and somewhat instinctive to us. Regardless of its evolutionaryorigin, a common perception is that motivation for outdoor recreation emerges as result ofpeoples’ “pursuit of personal benefit” (Kyle, Mowen and Tarrant 2004, p. 441).An interesting finding emerged from a study by Ewert (1993) of mountaineers who hadattempted to climb Denali. Ewert found that those who did not succeed in reaching the summitalso communicated that they felt many of their motives were met. It was especially motives such 25
  36. 36. as photography, catharsis/escape and the experience of wilderness environment that werefulfilled. Consequently, Ewert concluded that in order to perceive the trip as successful, climberswho did not summit, subconsciously emphasised the other sub-motivations which were met.Ewert (1993) also found differing motives amongst different types of climbers. Independentclimbers (not using guides) who are usually in small groups and have more experience werecompared to climbers from guided parties who typically have less experience. The guidedclimbers had higher motivation scores on variables such as ‘exhilaration/excitement’ and ‘socialaspects’. A selection of solo climbers was also surveyed and they gave a significantly highermotive score on the variable ‘risk’ than the other two groups (ibid). These findings suggest thatmotivations differ greatly between user groups and between users of different experience levelswithin the same user group. Supporting this, Lee, Scott and Moore (2002) noted that severalstudies point out the connection between motivation and intensity of involvement, level ofexperience, commitment or level of specialisation. They, as well as Ewert (1993), also note thatthere are clear indications in the existing literature that motivations alter when people gain moreexperience and acquire skills.2.4 AIRCRAFT USE IN NATURAL AREAS AND ASSOCIATED SOCIAL EFFECTS2.4.1 International experiences with aircraft use in national parksMuch of the international research that has been concerned with the social impact of aircraft haveless significance for this study as most are not overly focused on the experience of the users, butrather focused on external factors such as actual noise levels within the soundscape of nationalparks. For the benefit of the thesis structure, noise factors are discussed further in section 2.5.Aircraft operations serving recreation demands in national park are also common elsewhere in theworld. In the USA, Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) and the Hawaiian national parks areexperiencing huge demand for scenic flights, and the issue has been debated publicly for severalyears (Henry, Ernenwein, Thompson and Oppermann 1999). The management situation inAmerican national parks is somewhat similar to that of New Zealand in the sense that bothcountries have a split jurisdiction between airspace and land management. The US National ParksService (NPS) manages and controls all ground based activity in much the same way as DOC in 26
  37. 37. New Zealand, while the Federal Aviation Administration regulates the airspace above nationalparks (as is the case with the CAA of New Zealand). According to Henry et al. (1999, p. 118), thetwo involved bodies “have not had a common mechanism to address the management of airtourism over parks, the quality of service provided to park visitors, or how this service might beprovided in a way that minimises impacts on park resources and visitors”. As outlined in Section1.5, in New Zealand this situation creates difficulties for management of conservation areas andnational parks since they cannot control the activity which affects the natural soundscape of theareas they are set to manage for the benefit of all users.An international case study which is comparable to the situation in the Southern Alps is that ofDenali National Park and Preserve in Alaska (DNPP) (Tranel 2006; Watson, Knotek &Christensen 2008). This national park has a relatively high recreational demand, with usersengaging in activities such as mountaineering, hunting, fishing, boating, hiking and camping. Forrecreational users to access suitable and desired areas and to meet their recreational objectives,aircraft use is often the most viable option. The majority of those who utilise air taxis arehowever mountaineers and the most requested landing spot is on the glacier adjacent to thestandard climbing route on Denali/Mt McKinley (Tranel 2006). Similarly to New Zealand whereorganisations such as the New Zealand Alpine Club have expressed concern about aircraftactivity (Garrard 2007; NZAC 2008; OSNZAC 2007; 2008), climbers and climbing organisationsNorth America has expressed concerns about aircraft noise in DNPP (Tranel 2006). Alsosimilarly to the AMCNP, one major challenge for the NPS in their management of the aircraftoperations in DNPP, is that the air taxi and scenic flight operations actually pre-date theestablishment of the national park itself (Tranel, 2006), which legitimises the aircraft use in thearea. This is not necessarily a problem in itself, but it can pose a higher risk of conflict betweenpark management and operators if enforcing regulations is necessary. The situation in DNPP hasreceived a lot of attention from researchers and a soundscape monitoring programme wasinitiated in 2000 (Hults & Burson 2006). Unfortunately, in spite of all similarities between thetwo areas, there is little current research on social aspects of aircraft use in DNPP that is directlyrelevant for this study. 27
  38. 38. 2.4.2 New Zealand experiences with aircraft use in national parksThere is both a recreational and a tourism demand for access to natural areas in New Zealand.Areas that are interesting for tourism and recreation often embody properties which also makethem important for conservation. This can be considered a paradoxical situation since byallowing more people to experience these areas some of the very things people want toexperience can be impaired (Kearsley and Coughlan 1999). This paradox was acknowledged byDOC already in their first General Policy for National Parks from 1983 which states that: “Aircraft can provide a means of access to and enjoyment of parks with minimal physical impact compared with roading and some other methods of access. However, while scenic flights can be a valuable way of enjoying the parks, it is also important that the enjoyment of those who seek quietness in the parks, particularly in remote areas, is not unduly impaired” (DOC 1983, p. 21, in Tal 2004, p.11).The General Policy for National Parks (GPNP) states that “measures need to be taken to avoidthe adverse impact of aircraft on the natural state of a national park, and on the enjoyment bypeople of natural quiet” (NZCA 2005, p. 50). Tal (2004) however, argues that the governing bodyof New Zealand national parks does not do enough to maintain some of the values of theconservation estate. Tal implies that in some sense, allowing for an increase in aircraft activity(which in some places results in a continuous aircraft presence) is not wholly in accordance withsome of the key objectives of national parks, namely providing “solitude, peace and naturalquiet” for visitors (Tal 2004). In its Visitor Strategy, DOC obligate themselves to strictly manageaviation traffic on the estate by saying that “the qualities of solitude, peace and natural quiet willbe safeguarded as far as possible in all areas managed by the department” (DOC 2003, p. 14).There are significant considerations to be made in the management of both aircraft use andrecreation however. DOC has to provide for a wide range of recreational opportunities within apark and “as the number of aircraft overflying parks continues to increase, the potential forconflict between ground based recreationists and those seeking experiences from the air is likelyto be exacerbated” (Booth et al. 1999, p. 7).There have been a number of studies undertaken on social impact of aircraft use in natural areasin New Zealand (Sutton 1998, Booth et al 1999; Cessford 2000; Horn 2001; McManaway andBellringer 2002; Garrard 2005; Harbrow 2007; Squires 2007). Much of the existing research isproduced in affiliation with DOC, as it has a keen interest in how aircraft affect users of the areas 28
  39. 39. which the agency governs. This interest is formulated in the AMCNP Management Plan (DOC2004) as well as the GPNP (NZCA 2005). Much of this research employ ground based users’annoyance level as a primary measure for social impact (Booth et al. 1999). While most studiesdo not reveal much understanding of the issue it has been concluded that it is mostly the auralfeatures of aircraft that have the most impact on users, and causing annoyance. The visual aspectis considered acceptable by most (Booth et al. 1999).Interestingly, research has not found aircraft annoyance to be a major problem in many nationalparks (Sutton 1998; Cessford 2000; Garrard 2005). Booth et al. (1999) found that “visitordissatisfaction with aircraft overflights was often secondary to other park concerns (for example,poor signage, conflicts with other recreationists)” (1999, p. 23). This could indicate that socialimpact of aircraft is not a major concern amongst recreational users of natural areas in NewZealand. Their research also find no connection between aircraft annoyance and total visitexperience, which indicate that annoyance with aircraft is a fluctuant reaction and disappearsshortly after the aircraft does. This supports previous findings from USDA (1992 in Booth et al.1999).Acknowledged as a precursor to the aircraft monitoring programme (Booth et al. 1999), Sutton(1998) studied aircraft annoyance amongst visitors to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers in theWTPNP, using self administered questionnaire based on Likert-like scales. The aim of theresearch was to see if there existed dissatisfaction with the presence of aircraft. Sutton found theaverage number of aircraft in the valleys to be 6.3 per hour with a range of up to 40 per hour(1998, p. 8). He recorded a significant annoyance amongst the visitors, correlating with the levelof aircraft activity, especially high was the annoyance amongst those being exposed to more than14 aircraft per hour. But, interestingly, even with high levels of aircraft presence, there were morepeople that were either neutral or accepting of the aircraft presence than those being annoyed. Asnoted in Section 2.3.2, Sutton compared users of the main valley floors with users of the bushwalks in the elevated valley sides and found the bushwalkers to have significantly higherannoyance levels, something he assumed can be related to the different expectations of the twogroups. Also, the valley sides are of higher elevation so users of these tracks will inevitably findthemselves closer to the aircraft flight-paths. This supports the earlier mentioned (Section 2.3.2)significance of user expectation. 29
  40. 40. In another New Zealand study, Cessford (2000) analyzed 11 surveys of visitors to popular multi-day hiking trails (also known as the New Zealand Great Walks), together sampling almost 5000users. The users of these trails typically expect to experience “natural conditions with minimalintrusion by human effects” (2000, p. 71). In this analysis Cessford distinguishes between theusers noticing a noise effect and actually being bothered with it. He found that overall, the users’impact tolerance levels are not consistent; “where the awareness levels are similar, theproportions of visitors actually bothered often varied considerably, suggesting case specificdegrees of noise tolerance” (Cessford 2000, p. 72). He continues to say that previous research(NPS 1994; Sutton 1998) has indicated that higher levels of annoyance with noise is attributed tohigher sound/noise levels, to which Cessford disagrees. Cessford is of the opinion that noiselevels and annoyance levels are not the variables of major importance for management of noiseimpact on recreational users. He believes that “the activity, setting and recreation experiencecontext in which noise effects occur, and the different variables affecting the visitor’s individualevaluation of those noise effects, may be more important in most cases” (2000, p. 72).A study monitoring the effect of aircraft on recreationists at Mueller Hut was carried out byGarrard (2005) in 2005. The study drew on previous research done at that location in 2000, 2001(Horn 2001) and 2002 (McManaway and Bellringer 2002). This body of research discovered thatthere is some degree of user annoyance with aircraft at Mueller Hut and other locations within thepark. The percentage of users being annoyed with aircraft has remained relatively stable duringthe four monitoring projects, at a level of 27 to 35 percent, which is just above the managementthreshold suggested by DOC (Cessford 2000; DOC 2004). Garrard concludes however that evenif visitors are annoyed with aircraft, it rarely detracts from their overall trip satisfaction.In a study of social impact of aircraft in relation to the Milford Aerodrome in Fiordland NationalPark, Harbrow (2007) draws on five previous studies undertaken on behalf of DOC with similarobjectives. Some of these studies have been concerned with the Milford track and foundannoyance levels ranging from 51 to 69 percent. Interestingly, Harbrow found consistentindications that fixed wing aircraft caused less annoyance than helicopters in this area. This, hestates, is in contrast to management perception. At one location helicopters and planes bothcaused about a 14 percent annoyance “despite there being almost three times as many overflightsby planes as helicopters over the period of the survey” (Harbrow 2007, p. 12). Another of 30
  41. 41. Harbrow’s findings of interest to this research is that Homer Hut, which is associated with theclimbing areas in Fiordland, had the highest level of visitor annoyance with aircraft, recordingover 60 percent annoyance. Also, 43 percent of the respondents at Homer Hut indicated thataircraft was what they disliked the most about their visit (this survey question is strategicallyplaced prior to indications that the survey is concerned with aircraft impact). These results couldindicate that climbers are more sensitive towards non-natural sounds as Kariel (1990) discovered,and/or that they, as presumably more experienced and specialised users, have more fundamentalgoals related to their use of natural areas.A survey specifically targeting mountaineers was carried out by Squires (2007) during theclimbing season of 2006-07 in the MANP. The aim of this research was to “assess climber’sexperiences in terms of expectations and impacts relating to possible overcrowding, the socialimpacts of seeing and interacting with other climbers, and the social impacts of helicopter access”(Squires 2007, p. 2). The method used was based on the previously mentioned monitoring modelby Booth et al. (1999). The use of aircraft for access to Bevan Col, close to Colin Todd Hut in theMANP, emerged and has increased drastically during the last 8-12 years. Squires (2007) foundthat 57 percent of the respondents used helicopters for their current trip. Amongst the ones whowalked in, more than half stated that cost was the main reason they chose not to use aircraft.Thirty-six percent said they did not use aircraft because they wanted the experience of walkingin. Only 13 percent were ethically opposed to using aircraft for access. These were opposedbecause of either the noise emissions or a preference for a more purist approach to climbing. Therespondents who chose to use aircraft did so mostly because of: - ease of access/convenience and heavy loads; - limited time; and - timing trip with weather window (source: Squires 2007, p. 13)Interestingly, according to Squires (2007), 41 percent of those who used aircraft would not haveclimbed there if helicopter access was not available, and 73 percent of all respondents reportedthat seeing helicopter landings had no negative impact on their trip. This indicates that aircraftactivity has little effect on user experiences. It is important to note that Squires’ survey onlyasked about the impact and attitudes towards helicopter access flights to Bevan Col, not all forms 31
  42. 42. of aircraft activity. Nevertheless, Squires noted that in the comment section of the survey,respondents had outlined that scenic flights were considered far more of a disturbance than flightsinto Bevan Col. This is however not examined further in that study.None of the research currently available in New Zealand concludes that overall user satisfactionis adversely affected by aircraft activity at any of the studied locations up to this point in time.There are at times significant aircraft annoyance levels, but as Booth et al. (1999) concludes,there are indications that annoyance with aircraft is a fluctuant reaction and disappears when theaircraft is gone. These studies also demonstrate that the factors that are disliked (or are annoying)about aircraft, is the noise effect (Sutton 1998; Booth et al. 1999; Cessford 2000), and the oftenassociated crowding (Squires 2007) at popular recreational locations and huts. They also pointout that user expectation is an important factor as to whether users perceive a negative impact orget annoyed (Sutton 1998; Cessford 2000; Squires 2007). Another influencing factor emergingfrom these studies is the users’ level of experience (Cessford 2000; Squires 2007). Also worthmentioning is the fact that even though the importance of ‘setting’ (or location) has beenmentioned by researchers (Cessford 2000), the special properties of the location or ‘setting’ arenot emphasised in existing research as important factors influencing user satisfaction or the userexperience.2.5 NOISE IMPACT AND THE LOSS OF NATURAL QUIET2.5.1 Noise impact researchNoise is a phenomenon often defined as unwanted sound (Mace et al. 2004). That implies it isbased on perception and as such it is a psychological phenomenon. Consequently, it is notquantifiable like sound is (Mace et al. 2004). Noise generates annoyance within people andseveral factors contribute to such annoyance, for example whether the noise is consideredunnecessary or provocative by the affected individual, or considered to represent a health hazard(ibid.). Research has found that when regularly exposed to noise in the daily life (work/home)people can suffer from concentration problems, increased fatigue, increased blood pressure(Talbott et al. 1990) and sleep problems (Bronzaft, Ahern, McGinn, O’Connor & Savino 1998).The contextual factors deciding the origin and nature of any mechanical or non-natural sound are 32
  43. 43. “fundamental to understanding the social consequences of recreational noise” (Cessford 2000, p.69). That is because social impacts are often defined by the social values of the people involved.Hence, the values, or attitudes of the people experiencing the noise determine whether or not theyperceive the noise as intrusive and thus, if this noise is an issue of conflict.Several research projects have been undertaken on the impact of noise on recreationists in naturalsettings (Kariel 1990; Fidell et al. 1996; Miller 1999; Nugent 1999; Krog and Engdahl 2004). It isbeyond the scope of this thesis to present all of these as not all provide much useful informationfor this thesis. They all however fall into one of the categories presented below. Gramann (1999)divided the existing noise impact research into three approaches or theoretical frameworks: - psychological research; - acoustical research; and - psychoacoustical research.These divisions are appropriate for describing the existing research in this field and as these termswill be used later in this thesis, a short description is necessary. It is worth mentioning that mostof the research covered in this chapter follows the psychological approach since those studiesfocus on the perception of sounds, thus being more related to the subject of this study.The psychological approach is considered beneficial in that it brings aspects of the users’ ownreflections and perspectives into the research and as such examines people’s evaluation of sounds(Gramann 1999). This approach involves many factors, the actual sound one of them. Moreimportant are people’s own expectations of what they will encounter. Other factors that influenceevaluation of sounds are; which activity people engage in and their foreground tasks; their selfproduced noise; and the perceived purpose of the sound (in this case the aircraft activity).The acoustical approach “considers the effect of physical properties of noise. Among these areloudness, duration, tone, frequency, pitch, and rhythm qualities” (Gramann 1999, p. 4). Instead ofasking participants how they react to sounds, the audibility of sounds is measured in terms ofdecibel and then compared to a “standard of acceptability” (ibid.). This type of research is mostlydescriptive of a physical phenomenon and cannot disclose anything about the effect or the socialimpact of the phenomenon. 33
  44. 44. Psychoacoustical research combines elements of the two previous approaches as the namesuggests. According to Gramann (1999) this approach explores the correlation between physicalenergies such as light and sound and people’s psychological evaluations of their exposure to suchenergies. Their evaluation of this exposure is called a dose response, the dose being the soundand the response being usually measured as annoyance (Gramann 1999; Miller 1999).Researchers have come up with a few possible factors as to why some users perceive a negativeimpact of noise and some do not. Recreationists’ focus on foreground tasks is one possible factor(Fidell and Teffeteller 1981). A foreground task is something that engages the recreationists, suchas photography or climbing, and detracts the focus from potential disturbing elements. Otherfactors are the self-noise made by the visitors that can be loud enough to drown out mechanicalnoise (Fidell et al. 1996). In which case, the size of the group would be an influential factor(Gramann 1999). Another possibly influential factor which has received little attention is “howthe perceived need for mechanical noise may affect visitors’ evaluation” (Gramann, 1999, p. 10).This has also been referred to as the purpose of flight (Booth et al 1999).Considering all the research focusing on noise in recreational settings, one would think that it is asignificant problem. But in fact, most available research finds that aircraft noise, althoughperceived as annoying, does not impact negatively on the overall recreational experience.According to Miller (2008), an important distinction was made by a 1992 NPS study between 39U.S. parks, between noise interference, which is a brief occurrence where visitors are exposed tonoise but which would stop when the sound expired, and noise annoyance which on the otherhand is an emotion which might linger for a while after the sound has ceased (ibid). However,this distinction is not always evident in research on social impact of aircraft and noise research.Tarrant et al. (1995) and Staples (1998) recognise that this can be problematic. They areconcerned that by focusing on one subjective measure (the measure of annoyance), userresponses to certain questions may be misunderstood. Staples states that “simply because visitorssay that they want to experience natural quiet and that noise interferes with this opportunity, doesnot imply that they expect to experience natural quiet all the time, or that noise interferes withtheir enjoyment all the time” (1998, p.1726). Additional critique of the assertiveness of thescientific rigor which is embedded in the acoustical and psycho-acoustical research comes fromMiller (1999, p. 80): “Noise metrics do not always relate well to human experience. Too many 34

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