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January 2019 Issue
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Pigeon Post, January 2019

Our letter of the month correspondent receives a GSI Miniespresso worth $93.90 from

Letter of the month

The diversity on our doorstep

Many families these days have to fund an overseas school trip for their children. But how many Kiwi parents are aware that they can give their family an international experience within New Zealand for much less than the cost of an overseas trip for one family member?

We did just that when our three children were students, by booking onto the Milford Track.

Amongst the 40 people on the walk, we were the only five Kiwis. For three nights, our family mixed with people from a variety of countries and ages. There was an ex military man from Austria, a young Israeli, a family from India, Australians and a quiet Slovenian to mention a few.

Another time, when we were tramping the Rees-Dart Track, the hut camaraderie developed into something very special. Some hard-case French-speaking New Caledonians brought a zest to hut exchanges, an older German woman who liked to bathe naked in the streams raised our 14-year-old’s eyebrows, and a lovely Australian family enfolded our youngest into their midst.

I look back on those trips with fondness. We were glad to give our children the opportunity to be ambassadors for their country, and for them to find in the ordinary everyday activities of walking and hut life, that human beings are the same wherever they come from. I’m glad to say that as adults, they can talk to anyone, anywhere, and not just their own age group.

Sadly, with hut fees being raised, this kind of experience may be beyond the reach of many Kiwis. I’d love to see a family pass available that takes into account the fact that parents are often supporting their tertiary student children. For such trips, it’s the parents who foot the bill. Can we not make it possible for more parents to take their families into our wonderful backcountry – thereby enabling tourists to meet some genuine Kiwi tramping families too?

– Liz Hay, Christchurch

– Liz receives a GSI Miniespresso worth $93.90 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

Vegans will save the world

The lemon dahl meal in the Wild Cuisine section looks good. But it’s a shame the author felt the need to write: ‘I’m not suggesting that you become some sort of freaky vegan’.

Making veganism seem freaky when we need people to be more conscious of the environment is a touch sad from ‘Wilderness’. To assume people have low expectations of the deliciousness of vegetarian and vegan food is an insult to vegetarians and vegans.

Outdoors people sure are mixed in their views. But one thing they all have in common is looking after the environment and sharing a love for it. We are all there to appreciate what the outdoors holds and I would think Wilderness would be more open minded.

Going out of your way to be offensive to your vegan readers is not your best work. Especially when more and more people are waking up about their own impact on the planet.

– Adam Roys, email

Fiordland hut fees have ‘lost the plot’

I have just paid the Kepler Hut fees for myself and four Australian friends. For the Australians, the quoted price was $150 with GST.

I recall a six day walk in the Dolomites two years ago with mostly the same group where the nightly cost of around $100 included dinner, breakfast and showers.

Whilst ripping off foreigners, especially Australians, is great sport, I have the feeling we’ve lost the plot here.

– Stewart Brown, email

Washing babiesin sinks

With regard to the ‘enchanting’ photo of a baby being washed in a hut sink, I always felt that brushing one’s teeth over a sink in a hut was the height of uncouthness.

This beggars belief.

– Phil Cawley, email

Heaphy logistics

I read with interest your Great Walks special issue, of which I have thoroughly enjoyed – rather than ‘bagged’ (terrible term!) – all of them.

I did miss, though, what I consider a much better solution to those proposed for the logistical problem of the start and end of the Heaphy Track being so far apart. How about returning on the Wangapeka Track? If you have the extra time, after the Heaphy enjoy a day of rest at Karamea, re-supply, and walk back for another three-four days enjoying beautiful bush and the alternative experience of a great (though not Great) walk.

Plenty of operators will help you out with transport to the start, and from the end, of the Wangapeka.

– Juan Blanco, email