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April 2012 Issue
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Pigeon Post, April 2012

Photo: Jim Staton, DOC Greymouth

Letter of the month

Cramp remedy

There is one very good cramp remedy which I have used for many years and which wasn’t mentioned in the article ‘Don’t let cramp ruin your day’ (January, 2011).

No.8 magnesium phosphate works a treat. I have given a dose to others suffering cramp out in the hills and they have been pleased with instant results. Just put four tablets on your tongue, let them dissolve and the cramp will go. I use the New Era brand.

The key to preventing cramp, as the article states, is to keep hydrated. When going uphill for a few hours with a pack on I find the sweat fairly pours, so to replace those electrolytes I use a mix I read about in Wilderness some time ago. In a jar put 100g of iodised rock salt, two teaspoons of Epsom salts, and 1 teaspoon cream of tarter. Shake up and put a pinch in a mug of water or 1/4 teaspoon in a bottle of water.

No need to buy sports drink with far too much sugar not to mention colour. Carry a small pill bottle of this and add it to drinks on the way.

– Val Trow, Richmond

* Our letter of the month correspondent receives a Deluxe Survival Kit worth $149 courtesy of Readers, send your letter to the editor for a chance to win.

Wear orange, not red

I would like to point out that red is not a good stand-out colour (‘Bright Clothing Helps Rescuers’, March, p12) – at least not in New Zealand.

Quite a large proportion (seven per cent) of the male population suffer from red-green colour blindness. I am one of these people and I have great difficulty in seeing the person wearing red in the picture. Also, I can not see at all the red circle which illustrates the route into the Matukituki in the photo on page 7. Bright orange is a much better option for trampers – and could you please use yellow when highlighting certain points in a photo?

– Ryan Lock, Blenheim

Hut fees contribute to running costs

I have worked as a DOC volunteer hut warden for a couple of summers and collection of hut fees has been one of my duties. Sadly, it is obvious that when a warden is not present, many people, both overseas tourists and New Zealanders, use the huts without paying.

From what I can see of what DOC does, both with building huts, hut maintenance and other items such as track maintenance, I feel that hut fees are more than justified. I’m not sure the current system is the best way of ensuring payment, but in the big picture the revenue from hut fees can provide for a very small amount of the cost involved with maintaining and building huts and the access to them. I agree that the amount paid for some of the very popular huts or Great Walks huts does seem excessive when, for example, a family wants to use them, but there are other places to go where the cost is minimal. DOC has a good website which gives good information about tracks and huts which are not expensive. We do not pay to enter our National Parks as happens in some other countries.

Hut wardens can get abused and some people will try anything to evade paying hut fees. The system of huts and tracks here is unique and I feel that people should make at least some contribution when they use these facilities.

– Mary Miller, Christchurch

National park fees problematic

While entry fees for tourists sound a good idea to many (Walkshorts, March) there is a slight problem in that Section 4 (2) (e) of the National Parks Act 1980 states that ‘… the public shall have freedom of entry and access to the parks …’.

To impose an entry fee would require an amendment to the act, and therein lies the problem. If this were to be done it would open up the opportunity for a universal entry fee to be imposed. Far better for a levy, either on entry to New Zealand or as part of the departure tax, be imposed.

As for Mr Ensor’s claim that overseas visitors may ‘help secure the future of many huts by ensuring a level of use that justifies ongoing investment by DOC’, I’d welcome some examples. My experience over the last 40-plus years is that tourists tend to congregate towards popular huts and tracks and very seldom visit areas such as the Eyre and Takitimu Mountains in Southland where a true New Zealand backcountry experience can be obtained.

– Wynston Cooper, e-mail

Jet boaters have a right to recreation

In reply to your correspondent Dorota Giejsztowt (‘Jet boater ruins more than peaceful atmosphere’, March 2012) I am a jet boat owner, mountain bike owner and also have a pair of hiking boots in my cupboard and enjoy adventuring around the South Island showing my kids as much as possible like my father did.

The lake Dorota kayaked to is most probably Lake Ellery which runs into the Arawata River via the Ellery Canal which has been enjoyed by jet boaters and water-skiers on the coast for 40 plus years along with many other canals, streams and lakes which you would only ever get to via jet boat.

I agree jet boats aren’t the quietest of vehicles but for a large amount of New Zealanders who enjoy adventure and have a pioneering spirit which New Zealand was built on, this sort of sport along with mountain biking and hiking is what makes us New Zealanders and stop people moving to Australia for the money and warm weather.

– Steve Hadler

Kirwans legacy

It’s great to see the industrial heritage of the Reefton area getting a plug (Kirwans Legacy, March 2011). There is much to see and many tracks associated with the gold mining industry there, the main legacy of which is that people of all fitness levels and those that perhaps would not otherwise leave the tarseal can get into the forests with ease and have a pleasant journey on the graded tracks.

Since the author traversed the Kiwans Track, the once derelict battery pictured on p37 has been rebuilt and the orange fencing removed. The car park at Capleston has also had a make-over and there are no more cow pats there.

Jim Staton, programme manager, DOC Greymouth