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May 2021 Issue
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Great loo views hard to find

Too many loos no longer have views. Photo: Anne Webber

Letter of the month

Great loo views hard to find

Reading Peter Laurenson’s article ‘Tararua tops feast’, one sentence triggered a reaction in me: ‘The nearby loo has an even better view.’

Fantastic views from loos have vanished as DOC seems to have decreed to its contractors that ‘all loo doors must now face away from the view and if possible also face the hut’. This does not help the tramper perspiring, and/or expiring, in a fibreglass coffin (FC) on a sunny day and who has to prop the door open to survive the smell and heat.

In my favourite tramping area – the Travers Valley in Nelson Lakes National Park – there has been a mass extinction of loo views. Here’s an unofficial list:

  1. Bushline Hut: I used to tell everyone going there, ‘Check out the loo view over the lake’. Alas, it’s no more as the new FCs face away.
  2. John Tate Hut: The old loo was wiped out by an avalanche but the two replacements are now facing the track which at any moment may reveal a Te Araroa walker wandering past. Rotating it 180-degrees would give privacy and a view of the river.
  3. Upper Travers Hut: The newish loos face away from the magnificent views.
  4. Cupola Hut: The old long drop had a view of the Cupola cirque with Mt Hopeless towering above. The newish FC sits in the same position but has been turned 90-degrees with its door now facing the hut. All that holds this loo down is four large nuts. Maybe a group going up there could take a large spanner, lift the bloody thing and turn it around so that next time I’m there I will find the peace of a good loo visit whilst relaxing and soaking up the view.

River Howe

– Good luck finding loo views, River – a Kiwi Camping Rover Lite self-inflating mat worth $99 from is on its way.

Solo tramping high

Returning on a real high from my first ever solo overnight tramp in the Tararua Ranges, I was really interested to read ‘Alone on Te Araroa’.

A lot of what the author, Emma Connell, wrote resonated with me, even after only doing a mere one nighter. Having always previously tramped with family, friends or on tramping club trips, I had not considered solo tramping as an option.

A friend gave me the idea and now I understand the feeling of pure freedom, independence and self-responsibility that comes with being alone in the wilderness. Being by yourself in the bush or on a ridge top looking out to distant mountains gives you the opportunity to be in the moment, to fully absorb and appreciate the beauty of our wilderness without the distraction of others: it can be almost spiritual.

We are very lucky to be able to do this in relative safety compared to some other parts of the world. On my solo trip, I was thankful for the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years from tramping with other people: the tips and tricks picked up from each adventure into the bush or mountains.

There is always something to learn and going solo gives you greater confidence to tackle new challenges.

– Jacqui Dick

The unknown distance of Te Araroa

The editorial ‘Walk it your way’ stated Te Araroa is 3000km long. This is what TA maps show. But in reality, it is not 3000km, or not at least in terms of the distance actually walked. Currently, its exact distance is unknown for at least two reasons.

One is that in many places TA maps include the distance of water crossings, which are clearly not walked – unless of course you are a certain well-known religious figure. For example, the 10km section of water crossed from Opua to Waikari is counted as part of the walk.

The second reason is that the ups and downs are not accounted for. So the distance to walk over a hill will be longer than the horizontal distance shown on the map, or for that matter on GPS recorders.

The only way to accurately measure the exact distance walked would be to use a surveyor’s wheel. So there’s a challenge for someone, but not me I’m afraid.

– Andrew Craig

Prepare yourself

Like many others, I tramped over the Easter Weekend. I won’t divulge the hut or location as this letter is not meant to chastise anyone but merely provide a friendly reminder about preparedness.

When tramping, especially over an expected busy long weekend period, it is advisable to always bring a tent and a sleeping mat – at the very least.

Arriving at a full six-person hut at 8:30pm and asking the occupants if anyone has a spare sleeping mat, essentially relying on other trampers for gear and generosity, isn’t being well prepared.

– Tom Marchant

Walking Te Araroa’s underrated city sections

I enjoyed reading the stories about Te Araroa Trail.

My wife and I are unlikely to contemplate walking the whole distance (we are in our mid-70s) but would encourage active retirees and families to ‘have a go’ on sections near where they live.

In our case, living in Auckland, our challenge last summer was to walk from north of Puhoi across Auckland to the south of the city. Maybe not as exciting and arduous as some of the remote trail sections, but it was still scenic and varied.

We started at Remigers Road and followed the Puhoi Track to Puhoi. From there, we hired kayaks to paddle the Puhoi River to pick up the trail again at Wenderholm. Over the next few weekends, we followed the coastal trail to the Weiti River.

Perhaps the most challenging part was wading across the Okura River, just avoiding stepping on a sunbathing stingray.

We set an objective of walking on the rock shelves at low tide all the way from Long Bay to Devonport, to avoid any road walking. After the ferry ride to the city, there was the Coast to Coast walkway across Auckland with hardly any street walking, and then around Ambury Park to the airport.

On the northern sections, we positioned a car at each end of our day’s walk, but once at Long Bay it’s practical to use public transport to link with the route.

We have also done several sections leading into Wellington. If you live in these cities, be sure to walk the nearby sections.

– Tony Hooks

Double whammy

I recently subscribed for my son who lives overseas and then just got sick of being ‘rained on’ and bought myself a subscription. What a great magazine Wilderness is – I just wished I had more years ahead of me than behind.

Coincidentally, just before reading the article ‘The return of the bum bag’, I resurrected my old bum bag for a clean up as I thought it would be ideal for my short midweek walks.

Fortunately, I have a flat belly!

– Mary Modrich

– Anyone reading this who isn’t a subscriber should follow Mary’s example and buy two! – AH