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October 2021 Issue
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Fees in national parks

Our reader of the month wins a Salewa Carbonium Tour Pole worth $219.90 from

Letter of the month

Fees in national parks

Dave Bamford’s comments raised some concerns for me (‘Is tourism’s time up in our national parks’, September 2021). 

While I support a reasonable amount of user pays if the money goes where intended, the last thing we need is more bureaucracy, red tape and impractical obstacles impinging on our enjoyment of the outdoors at whatever life stage we’re at.

In planning to avoid past problems on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing or at Milford Sound, those in charge must identify the objective and keep the solution simple and focussed.

Power and revenue-collecting ability over our public treasures must never be given to anyone without the necessary competence, strict and recognised parameters, and consideration of the ability for Kiwis to challenge and make changes. The solutions must make things better, not worse, for all of us.

– Fiona Mackenzie, Whangaparaoa

– Fiona wins a Salewa Carbonium Tour Pole worth $219.90, thanks to

Great views but hard on the body

I have recently completed a mid-winter walk of the Paparoa Track. Our party of experienced trampers had booked our hut accommodation weeks in advance and we were fortunate to experience calm blue-dome days on three of the four days we were on the track.

DOC is to be commended for the route. Regenerating bush, ex-mining features, open tussock, mature character trees, ‘goblin forest’, nikau palm enclaves; limestone cliffs and cyclone-ravaged sections all contribute to the visual stimulation of the track.

And the vistas we experienced! We took time to deviate from the route to go to Croesus Knob and Mt Ryall. From the latter, we had an uninterrupted vista of the snow-capped Southern Alps from Aoraki/Mt Cook north to the Victoria Range while also being able to look down to the swells breaking on the coast.

The maximum number of people in any one hut on our trip was 13.

However, this track is multi-use and was fastidiously constructed to cater to mountain bikers, which means a hard surface to cope with the rigorous impact of knobbly tyres.

And that hard surface has a significant effect on the true tramping enjoyment. Envisage walking a gravel rural road for three or four days with a loaded pack. All members of our party, and others at the huts, experienced a range of complaints from sore feet, body weariness beyond that anticipated, to full-blown blisters.

DOC would be well advised to advertise the Paparoa Track as its first purpose-built mountain bike route – walkers welcome.

– Bill Allcock, Waikanae Beach

Milford proposals a win-win

I was glad to see the issue of fees for national parks raised. 

It would be nice if the one million visitors to Milford Sound in 2019 paid something towards the maintenance of the road and Fiordland National Park.

Hut users already pay a relatively small fee to use huts, so a tourists’ contribution is not a lot to ask. Otherwise, everyone in New Zealand subsidises the tourists who visit these remarkable places.

Apart from asking users to pay, we could also ask them to wait their turn. Having to book huts and tracks is now fairly common and having to book a time to visit the most popular places is a good idea. We don’t go to the wilderness to see hordes of people and I am happy to pay and book a time to have some semblance of wilderness.

More money for our parks and fewer visitors would be a win-win.

– Steve Bailey

Embracing the upcycle/recycle movement

Since starting a family, I have embraced the upcycle/recycle philosophy with gusto. As much as I like shiny new Gore-Tex coats and merino everything, I simply can’t justify the expense.

After my old Macpac Cascade pack became unserviceable, I bought a Tika Cupola backpack for $35 on TradeMe. Also on TradeMe I bought a Coleman one-person tent for $50 and a First Light sleeping mat for $15. At a garage sale, I found a Primus Spider stove for $35. 

I’m sure I get just as much enjoyment tramping with my old Tika pack and Swandri as the next person with a $450 pack, $200 fleece, merino whatever and Everest-capable stove.

I say it’s about being out there doing it, not about what one wears.

And for those starting out; I can only assume by the amount of late model gear on TradeMe, that people have kitted up before they’ve fully decided tramping is for them.

It was good to see the article on periods in the outdoors (‘Menstruation in the mountains’, August 2021). This subject that has always been whispered about but never spoken aloud. 

– Jamie Gray

Another option for the modern navigator

I enjoyed the article ‘Navigation with smartphones and handheld GPS devices’ (August 2021) and it reflected many of my thoughts.

I use the TopoGPS app, which makes trip planning a dream. All that’s required is to mark the start and finish points, with maybe some intermediate points. The route pictured required one additional point and took two-minutes, including naming it and creating an elevation profile.

In addition, you can import the routes Wilderness publishes or export to share with friends.

I have used the app for five years and have convinced many sceptical trampers to download it.

– Adrian Davis