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Hiking poles burn more calories, study finds

Hiking poles help users burn more calories and move more quickly. Photo: matthew Cattin

A wrap of the biggest stories and best writing about the outdoors from New Zealand and around the world.

A new study has summarised the pros and cons of hiking pole use, and the results may surprise.

The review article was published in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine by Ashley Hawke and Randall Jensen, and draws together the results of prior studies, writes Outside magazine.

One consistent finding was that trampers using hiking poles burn more calories.

“By some estimates, it’s about a 20 per cent calorie bonus thanks to the added demands of using your upper body muscles,” Outside writes.

Though this isn’t necessarily a positive note for trampers, benefits include a faster pace, better balance and load easing on muscles and joints.

“All six of the relevant studies in the review found that subjects tended to walk faster with poles. It’s not because you’re propelling yourself forward with arm power, though. Instead, the poles seem to enable people to adopt a more normal walking gait, with longer and quicker strides, particularly while carrying a pack or climbing a hill.”

Canterbury’s giant cat photographed in Hanmer Springs

Canterbury’s legendary large cat has been spotted again in Hanmer Springs.

Christchurch osteopath Mark Orr​, 25, was mountain biking on the Perseverance Biking Trail when he saw the cat about 50m away, Stuff reports.

“[It was] 100 per cent not a dog, no doubt about that,” Orr said. “It was a cat and at knee height and much stockier than a regular cat.”

In September, two large black cats were spotted in Ashley Forest by possum hunter Jesse Feary.

The hunter shot one of the cats – a 11kg giant – but believes he saw a larger specimen days earlier, and will no longer hunt possums alone in the area.

“I do a lot of possuming, I see wild cats all the time,” he said. “Normally they are quite scrawny but this is monstrous.’’

Angelus Hut moves to the booking system

Four more DOC huts and campsite have been added to the booking system in time for the summer season. 

Bushline and Angelus huts, in Nelson Lakes National Park, and Canaan Downs campsite and Cobb Hostel, in Kahurangi National Park, will now require booking through the DOC website. 

DOC’s Tim Bamford said the move gives trampers confidence their accommodation is secure before arrival.

“Another advantage of the booking service is, in advance of their trip, we can provide customers with safety information, track updates and if the reservation is affected by bad weather, other natural events or any cancellations due to potential Covid-19 alert level changes,” he said.

Bookings for Angelus and Bushline Hut are open and required from November 30 and Canaan Downs campsite and Cobb Hostel are open from November 2. 

Twizel mountaineer wins Access Award

Twizel mountaineer Shaun Norman has been honoured for his “significant and lasting contribution to public access to the outdoors”, Stuff reports.

Norman received the Outdoor Access Champion Award from the New Zealand Walking Access Commission for his work on tracks around the area.

“For the last 50 years Shaun Norman has worked as a mountain guide and shared his passion for the outdoors with his Aoraki/Mt Cook community through public talks and other methods to encourage people to engage with nature,” the commission said.

Norman is the New Zealand Mountain Guide Association’s longest serving guide, and once held the record for the most ascents (39) of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

He said he received the award on behalf of the many people who contributed to the maintenance of Twizel tracks. 

“It’s important to underline the fact that when small local groups get together they can actually achieve quite a lot,” he said.

White weka seen on West Coast

A rare white weka has been spotted in a Karamea backyard, Stuff reports.

Resident Michele Carman, who spotted the bird foraging around her chicken coop, initially thought she had seen a white duck.

On closer inspection, she realised it was a weka. 

“There [are] hundreds of weka around the place but that’s the first time I’ve seen a white one,” she said.

DOC spokeswoman Jose Watson said the white variant has a genetic condition called leucism – a condition similar to albinism that results in pale feathers.

“Anyone lucky enough to have seen one has experienced a once in a lifetime sighting,” she said.