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August 2020 Issue
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A Wilderness 100 omission

Our letter of the month correspondent wins three pairs of Thorlos socks.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Wilderness 100’ (May 2020). however, there is one glaring omission.

I completed the Anatoki Kill Devil Track in Kahurangi National Park six months ago. It pushed all my buttons. The hot shower that can be had at the Anatoki Hut, the easy climb over the saddle to Soper Shelter, which in turn was the most charming ‘hut’ I have experienced.

The scramble over rock slides from the Murchison earthquake that formed Lake Stanley. The historic huts: Waingaro Forks, Riordans, and Tin. Discovering the name of Keith Holyoake written on the rafters at Tin Shelter Hut, which led me to explore how the youthful Holyoake was connected to the region.

On second thought, if we publicised this destination too widely, it may become swamped with more people. Maybe we need to keep this one our little secret.

– Bill Mancer

  • Looks like you’ve let the cat out of the bag, Bill. For sharing your addition to The Wilderness 100 you receive three pairs of Thorlos socks, including Thorlos Trekking, Hiking and Outdoor Fanatic socks worth $139.70 from Readers, send your letter to the editor to win.

Act, don’t react

In regards to the story ‘Fishing out a Frenchman’ (June 2020), I wonder why the author, having made his own assessment of the Ahuriri River, did not discuss the crossing with his companion, Pierre, before they crossed?

Faced with such a river and crossing it with someone he hardly knew (and not knowing their backcountry skills), why did he not suggest they cross it together using the mutual support method?

After the author crossed the river successfully, it became clear Pierre had very little experience crossing rivers. Instead of shouting to him from the opposite bank, why did the author not cross back immediately when he saw Pierre needed help instead of agreeing to take a photo? During the ‘rescue’, the author then complained about ‘carrying the weight of a limping Frenchman’ and accused him of having selective hearing as Pierre staggered around in panic. No doubt the poor guy was in shock after his dunking.

I feel, had the author acted kindly and responsibly in the first place, it is likely that Pierre would not have fallen into the river.

– Jules Stacey

On sacred summits

Thank you, Tānia Gaffey, for bringing a Māori perspective to the discussion of summiting mountains (‘Why summits are sacred’, June 2020). I too was shocked by the negative responses to the original article ‘To summit or not to summit’ (May 2020).

Respecting the wishes of traditional owners is a fundamental part of reconciliation between indigenous and colonising cultures, and it isn’t onerous. Rather than marring the enjoyment of those of us privileged to access the outdoors, it should increase it. Who wants to undertake an activity knowing it causes distress to someone else?

We speak quietly and behave respectfully when visiting Renaissance churches in Italy (and feel embarrassed for other tourists when they don’t). We wear the sashes provided when visiting outdoor temples in Bali. We now hike around, not up, Uluru. These actions ensure our encounters are harmonious and mutually respectful. We must extend this respect to the tangata whenua and the sacred sites we encounter in New Zealand.

– Rebecca Shanahan

Tānia Gaffey’s article, which promised that we would learn why Māori don’t stand on the summit of a peak, was something I was interested in understanding better.

While this was explained and was helpful, the article went further and I was disappointed that it descended into a monologue about why her beliefs and values were right, and those of others were wrong. Notably, her criticism of Sir Edmund Hillary for his statement, ‘We knocked the bastard off’ came across as judgemental and shallow. If she had done her research, she would have found Hillary was someone who had incredibly rich and noble views and beliefs and who contributed much to society.

Yes, he was motivated by achievement and climbing summits, but like many climbers it is more than about standing on top of something. In fact, Gaffey could also have attributed his quote, ‘It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves’. Hillary believed that mountains provided a means of testing oneself that could lead to being a better person, but he never lost sight of the more important things in life and rated his contributions to Nepalese communities with the establishment of schools and hospitals as his greatest achievements.

I appreciate Gaffey’s views on the sacredness of summits that are underpinned by her culture and beliefs, but I don’t share those exact same beliefs myself. I do believe nature, mountains, the outdoors are sacred and should be treasured and respected, but I don’t personify a mountain in a way that stops me standing on its head.

She says, ‘One thing I can agree on is the suggestion that attitudes be broadened’. This is so true, but it has to work all ways and something she may wish to ponder on for herself.

– Pete Swanson

The writer explains that some mountains have the remains of ancestors buried on them and I wholeheartedly agree that if I was there I would respect the area in the same way as I would any grave in a church. But it doesn’t explain why we shouldn’t stand on the summit of, for example, Aoraki/Mt Cook or any other of the mountains that are special to New Zealanders. Surely there are no ancestors buried there.

I do object to one group separating themselves off from the rest and pointing to a faraway peak, telling others that they should never set foot on the summit because they feel it is somehow more special to them than to others.

We are all one on this planet together, irrespective of our culture, beliefs or the colour of our skin. Those who have spent time in the Aoraki/Mt Cook area speak about how special the area is and how they feel connected to the place because it is so special, not because of the colour of their skin.

– Andy Mullholland

A taboo subject gets an airing

I’ve found the various articles in Wilderness that cover tramping’s environmental footprint and how DOC manages huts and sewage treatment informative. I like that the magazine has discussed the importance of taking everything home from a tramp, including biodegradable food.

However, one taboo subject which I feel has not been engaged with and given enough attention is women hiking and managing their personal hygiene during their menstruation cycles. I personally struggled with this as I’m sure a lot of other women do. There are not appropriate facilities to dispose of sanitary items in the backcountry and no-one wants to carry them on long hikes. That was until I heard about the eco menstrual cup – an absolute game-changer.

Unlike traditional sanitary products, it’s reusable, more economical, safer, environmentally friendly and leaves no trace. For any fellow women trampers interested in a more carefree flow, I recently discovered one supplied by an Auckland-based social enterprise called Wa Collective. For every one cup purchased, they subsidise another for a young girl from a disadvantaged background. Now that’s a win-win.

– Rosanna Murphy