Image of the August 2012 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
August 2012 Issue
Home / Articles / Pigeon Post

Pigeon Post, August 2012

Letter of the month
Family ties

I was very pleased to see the 3D Shaler Range map (July, 2012), as the area has great family significance. My great uncle James Park was a keen hiker and climber in the early part of the 1900s and with the family based in Hokitika, with a lakeside bach by Lake Kaniere, he spent a lot of time in the mountains. In 1929 he lost his life, along with his friend John Morpeth, drowning in the Burnett. The Park Morpeth Hut, by the Wilberforce River was built in their memory and recently renovated; it’s the oldest Canterbury Mountaineering Club hut, now 81 years of age!

The Parks were very active in the Southern Alps. In late 1889 to early 1890, James Park (my great grandfather) and his younger brother George paddled and dragged two 40kg Rob Roy canoes 330km from Hokitika to Lyttelton in 13 days and then paddle-sailed down the coast to Christchurch. They also crossed Cook Strait in 1888, paddling and sailing from Mana Island to Nelson via Picton and French Pass over a two-week period.

Our branch of the family is Auckland based and the West Coast and Southern Alps are frustratingly distant. But the family history in the region – wonderful stories of adventure and challenge as well as tragedy – continues to inspire the younger descendants of the Parks.

– Dave Nicholas, Auckland

* Our letter of the month correspondent receives a Kovea Moon Walker Stove worth $120 courtesy of Readers, send your letter to the editor for a chance to win.

Rope has its uses

It was good to see Geoff Wyatt advocating the use of the rope by trampers when negotiating bluffs (April 2012). For a number of reasons rope doesn’t often find its way into tramping packs these days.

I recently carried out some research that improved our knowledge of fording rivers and which led to the development of a refinement of earlier methods.

For the rope that is essential to the success of the new method, I was happy to come across 7mm polypropylene marine rope that is cheap, light, and floatable. Both its lightness and its inability to soak up water will be of interest to trampers who are conscious, like me, of every extra gram. The floatability is a bonus when fording; an advance over all other rope or line.

– Brian Wilkins, Wellington

Black Hill Station contacts

I recently led a group of trampers on a trip up the Redcliffe Stream and visited the musterer’s hut mentioned by Pat Barrett (July, 2012).

The property, including the hut and 4WD track mentioned in the article, to the west of the Redcliffe stream belongs to Duncan and Fiona Ensor and is called Black Hill Station. Permission to use the 4WD track above Packers Stream should be sought from the Ensors (P: 021 855 014).

The article incorrectly gives Redcliffe Station as the contact for permission, although a short section of the track as it leaves the road does go through the Redcliffe farm stock yards.

The Department of Conservation track up the true right of the Redcliffe Stream leads on to the saddle as mentioned, but all the land to the west of the DOC track (which continues south along the side of the saddle) is on Black Hill Station.

– Trish Faulkner, Christchurch

Adventure Smart is one solution

I used the new Adventure Smart website ( before departing on a recent trip into the hills and I have to say I like it.

I was able to easily navigate my way to the website and once there found that it was a simple one button click to begin logging in my intentions. The required information is not too onerous and amounts to what I would usually tell someone, plus a few details about what extra survival gear I am carrying.

I found the best part was that contained within the email sent to my trusted contact was a detailed and sensible list of instructions about what to do should I not return when expected. Fantastic.

While I think the new system is great I believe its role should be to complement, not replace, what is already in existence. I feel DOC did not give due consideration to the many permutations of outdoor users and was naive to think that one system would cover everything and be suitable for everyone.

I can only hope that DOC backs down from its mindless policy before someone goes missing.

– David Short, email

Community needs mining

The article by Mick Abbott ‘Contradictions abound in Denniston and Milford proposals’ (July 2012) is very one sided.  Yes, in the ideal world we would not be mining coal (or using any fossil fuels) but unfortunately we don’t. Also unfortunate is the fact that people like Mr Abbott obviously do not live in areas like Buller or if they do, have a safe and secure job.

The Buller area had been in recession for many years prior to Solid Energy’s arrival at Stockton. I believe the residents’ welfare comes before trees and animals. Selective native logging ceased several years ago thanks to the pressure of the vocal few. The West Coast main industry is now dairy farming which is not a large employer.

I presume Mr Abbott owns a vehicle, maybe he could work to reduce the vehicle usage in New Zealand by 50 per cent? I’m sure that would have more benefit than closing a coal mine.

Finally, has Mr Abbott been on the tour of Stockton Mine? If not I recommend he does.

– Geoff Bateup, Westport

Tonic for a homesick Kiwi

As a new reader and now subscriber to Wilderness, I just wanted to let your team know what a great job you are doing with the magazine. I only discovered Wilderness at the airport in April this year and really enjoyed the magazine.

I’m originally from Christchurch, but am living in Australia now. I can’t believe I didn’t do overnight or multi-day tramps in the Southern Alps when I was there!

Wilderness is just the inspiration I needed to start tramping in the Alps on my two trips home each year. The magazine has also inspired me to start hiking here in Victoria and has been a great motivator during winter to check out the local national parks. Two things that are apparent are the great network of huts in New Zealand and how lucky Kiwis are to have wilderness so close to the main cities.

– Darren Cottam, email

Didymo reminder

The suggested tramping routes in the Polar Range article (June, 2012) included numerous river crossings.

Moving from one waterway or catchment to another without cleaning tramping equipment carries a high risk of spreading unwanted freshwater pests such as didymo. Once these pests get into a waterway they can spread rapidly, destroying the environmental, recreational and aesthetic values of the waterway.

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Some pests are microscopic and can be spread by a single drop of water.

Trampers can help slow the spread of didymo and other freshwater pests by checking, cleaning and drying gear that has come into contact with river water, especially before they move into another catchment.

Drying gear until it is completely dry to touch will thoroughly kill didymo.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to slow the spread of freshwater pests.

– Jeff Donaldson, South Island operations manager, Ministry for Primary Industries.