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April 2013 Issue
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Pigeon Post, April 2013

Letter of the month: Keep NZ beautiful

I congratulate you on February’s editorial on the protection of our environmentally important rivers. My wife and I have just completed a South Island wilderness trip in the car (a change from using our feet).

As you would expect our contact with those doing the same consisted of a high percentage of overseas visitors. We had a fantastic time visiting many places of interest that we had seen years previously. We repeatedly commented positively how both wilderness and urban areas have been carefully protected and developed with conservation at the forefront of planner’s minds.

In visiting the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, part of the Westland World Heritage area including the kotoku nesting colony, to our horror we viewed cows walking in and polluting the Waitangitaona River.

We have so much to celebrate and to be proud of being a New Zealander, in what has to be the most beautiful country in the world, but let us not be complacent – we must always speak out when we fall short.

– Rex Hunt, Richmond

Brunner not so bad

Pete Lusk has a good dose of anscestromorphism in his article ‘Maori guide showed explorer the way’ (February, 2012). Someone putting their 21st century thinking into the minds of those who lived more than 160 years ago. Impossible to do, but many do it anyway, often, as in this case, with few historical records to justify this critical judgment of Brunner.

According to Brunner, Heaphy and others, Kehu was a good bushman, ‘worth his weight in tobacco’, so why didn’t he find that elusive terrace above the Buller River that Lusk refers to? Why didn’t he find the short cut Lusk has seen on Google Earth or the topo map? Kehu good, Brunner bad – well, not good anyway. What a judgment!

Of course was an explorer. He went into the unknown and made it known. He is as much an explorer as Charlie Douglas, William Grave, Heaphy or Colenso. He was a surveyor for heaven’s sake, charged with finding new land, especially farm land the Nelson colonists craved. The connection with gold fever is spurious to say the least.

The biography of Thomas Brunner by Emily Host gives a much more balanced view of the man, far more so than Lusk’s summary of opinion.

– Barry Dunnett, Kaikoura

Vicarious trails

I was excited to see the article Ultra light gear maker lonely on Te Araroa Trail’ (March, 2013) as my husband and I have eight items made by ZPacks.

We can speak first hand of the quality and durability the lightweight cuben fibre products have. Unfortunately, the article spoke more about the Valesko’s unhappiness on the Te Araroa. We are also hiking New Zealand’s long trail and in 2011 completed the Appalachian Trail in the US. Speaking from experience, anyone that has completed or attempted a long distance hike will tell you that some days are good and some are bad. For that matter a kilometer may feel like a day and a month could feel like a week. One day you will be bashing through a tussock field in the rain begging to be teleported to a hotel with nice white robes. Every day is new and every track is different.

– Clara Mills, email

Alone, totally

Further to your article ‘Alone in the Wild’ (March, 2013), can I suggest that the ‘going bush’ experience can be further enhanced if one goes away without telling anyone where one is going.

This goes against the popular mantra that one should tell others of your planned movements, but if no-one has any idea of where you are bar yourself, you would not put other people to trouble if you had a mishap because they would have no idea where to start looking for you and they couldn’t start a search. So no-one else has any right to complain.

I don’t suggest one does this lightly. It is a risk, but if one is confident in one’s tramping skills, a small one. The benefits are a heightened bush experience, and believe me it is sheer delight being totally disconnected from the rest of the human race and completely self-reliant.

Is one being irresponsible doing this? No more irresponsible than other adventurers like rock climbers who risk their lives for a thrill. It is a lot safer than climbing Everest for instance.

– Stephen Conn, Nelson

National park confusion

I really enjoyed ‘The Shattered Heart – in search of an historic bivouac in Mt Aspiring National Park’ (September, 2012) and decided to try and work out their route as we were planning an extended expedition into Mt Aspiring Park.

However, the trip described is nowhere near Mt Aspiring National Park but is actually in Westland National Park.

It’s a bit of a misleading title to the article!

– Caroline Hager, email

– Indeed it is. Apologies for the confusion. If it’s any consolation we have a real Mt Aspiring NP story on p34. AH