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November 2021 Issue
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A warning to always treat your water

Our reader of the month wins a Salewa Carbonium Tour Pole worth $219.90 from www.bobo.co.nz.

Letter of‭ ‬the month

A warning to always treat your water

I have enjoyed tramping in many different parts of our beautiful country and have always appreciated our ‘clean, green’ natural environment.

Staying at DOC huts and camping beside rivers or streams is one of the great things about living in New Zealand, especially as we don’t have to worry about things like wild animals that may eat us or poison us. 

We do, however, have an invisible parasite that, up until now, I thought was something very few people became afflicted with and was really nothing to worry about: Giardia.

On a recent overnighter, I drank unfiltered water from the sparkling clear streams and rivers we passed, enjoying the pure fresh taste. I also ignored the DOC warning at the hut we stayed in to boil my water. A couple of weeks later, I was seriously regretting that decision! 

I had become infected with Giardia and the symptoms are not pleasant at all. I thought it would pass quickly so was shocked that it didn’t. Several trips to the doctor, antibiotics, naturopath visits and five months later my digestion still isn’t back to normal. The worst thing is I can’t eat cheese!

I have now learnt to look after my health by filtering and boiling water. It is such a small price to pay to ensure you don’t ingest this nasty little parasite.

– Jacqui Dick

– A good reminder to boil or treat water, thanks Jacqui. We hope you get better soon and in the meantime, we’re sending you a pair of Salewa Carbonium Tour walking poles worth $219.90, thanks to www.bobo.co.nz. Readers, send your letter to the editor for a chance to win.

Shelter needed at Lake Dive

Lake Dive Hut was a key hut in Taranaki’s Around the Mountain Circuit (‘Lake Dive Hut rebuild uncertain’, October 2021). With the hut missing, trampers must walk another 2.5hr to reach an exit point (Dawson Falls car park) or at least 3.5hr to the next available hut (Waingongoro Hut). 

Adding this to the recommended 7-8hr needed to reach Lake Dive from Waiaua Gorge Hut makes for a long day. 

As the weather on Taranaki Mounga can deteriorate quickly in any season, it would be advisable to have some form of shelter in this spot.

Although the former hut site can be used for camping, as it has been cleared of the debris and the toilets are still in place, there is no water available other than from nearby Lake Dive.

As we have seen the number of trampers increasing over the last year, the remainder of the huts on the AMC now have to accommodate these growing numbers. 

It is also interesting to note that none of the DOC brochures (printed or on the DOC website) have been amended to advise trampers about the missing Lake Dive Hut.

– Jack Osephius, Taranaki

The reason for hard tracks: geology

Thanks to Bill Allcock for his commendations to DOC over the Paparoa Track (‘Great views but hard on the body’, Pigeon Post, October 2021).

Bill raises the issue of the hard track surface and its impact on walkers’ feet. I’d like to assure readers that there was no conscious decision to harden the track. 

The hardness is primarily a function of the geology of the area. In most places on the new track, we’ve simply taken the soft organic material off the surface and reformed the harder surface below. 

In some places, this wasn’t feasible so we’ve had to place harder material, sourced from elsewhere on the track, to give us a more sustainable surface that won’t turn into a boggy mess given the high rainfall in the area (around 6m per annum) and the high number of users (currently 6000-7000 per year). 

This is less comfortable to walk on than most lower-use tramping tracks that are primarily formed on natural surfaces, and some sections of other Great Walks where the geology is more forgiving. 

We get similar feedback about sections of the Milford Track which has significantly hardened surfaces in order to handle high water loads, the final day especially. 

Where the Paparoa Track passes through the forest, leaf litter and the like will soften these sections over time. It’s the same on sections of the Heaphy which have been hardened to handle soft peaty soils but are improving year on year. 

Paparoa is our first constructed dual-purpose Great Walk. We are constantly learning how to do this work and are especially proud of what our team has done in incredibly difficult country. 

I hope that helps, if not your sore feet, then at least your understanding of why we’ve got what we’ve got there.

– Shane Hall, operations manager, Department of Conservation 

Lack of diversity in 30th Anniversary issue

The selected articles showcased in the 30th Anniversary feature (October 2021) showcases articles by 29 men and one woman. Of the 29 men, 28 appear to be pākehā. There is only one Māori voice. The lone article by a woman is all about a ‘missing mountain man’.

Wilderness has had an increasing wealth of women contributors over the years, and diversity is slowly creeping in, but you have privileged the voices of pākehā men. It is disappointing that your key article celebrating 30 years of publishing isn’t more diverse and inclusive.

– Stephanie Gibson, Wellington

– We certainly need to do better in this regard and I would love to publish more stories from women and Māori – if you’d like to pitch a story, please get in touch. – AH

It’s true, Ivory Lake is the best hut

The story about Ivory Lake Hut (30th Anniversary, October 2021) took me back to the time when I visited the hut three times during the 1970s and nearly lost my life when I slipped off an iceberg lodged in the lake outlet channel. I was fortunate to have been on a rope. 

We eventually reached the hut and appreciated its refuge during a fierce storm. We woke to find 30cm of new snow around the hut. Two days later, our trip out down the flooded Waitaha Valley was also a bit tricky due to high river levels and extensive storm damage.

I went back to the hut again in 1978, on that occasion via Mt Allen and the Hitchin Range. The hut has always been one of my most cherished mountain huts, and I fully support its status as ‘the best hut in the world’. 

I really appreciated your story and also the great photos which take me back to this iconic mountain retreat.

– Graham Hancox, former DSIR/GNS geologist