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December 2019 Issue
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Pigeon Post, December 2019

Our reader of the month receives bushcraft Essential’s Bushbox LF Titanium multi-fuel stove worth $210.

Letter of the Month

TA Trail needs more money

Reading Katrina Megget’s story ‘A trail of two halves’ had me reminiscing about my own experience walking the Te Araroa Trail.

I walked the TA over two summers – the North Island in 2016/17 and the South in 2018. Both islands offer unique experiences, special in their own way and I agree with Katrina that the North Island section of the TA isn’t just mud and road walks. There are plenty of ‘gems’.

The issue, I believe, is the amount of mud and road walking. Most hikers don’t mind a bit of mud or a stroll down a country road. If the TA wants to maintain its image as one of the world’s great long trails, it needs to provide off-road trails and boardwalks in excessively muddy areas.
More amenities also need to be provided to cater for the number of people being allowed to hike the trail.

I am full of admiration for what has been accomplished on the TA by a small group of motivated enthusiasts. The TA has now become world renowned but with that comes obligations at another level. It is time, I believe, to get the funding this trail deserves in order to turn what started as a dream, into a sustainable reality.

– Jude Hayward, email

Mark Weatherall, chief executive of the Te Araroa Trail Trust, responds to Jude’s letter:
“We have some big challenges ahead and unless we are able to secure some ongoing long-term funding, we run the risk of not being sustainable – both regarding the track and the management of the trail.
At the moment, we rely on donations and gaming grants. I have been doing a lot of work with local and central government, but we haven’t been able to get the support we need at this stage.”

Jude receives Bushcraft Essential’s Bushbox LF Titanium multi-fuel stove
worth $210 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

Illegal camping on Scotts Beach

Behind the pretty picture of a sunny yellow tent pitched on golden sand  is an irresponsible bit of outdoors-ing.

Your contributor admits arriving at the road end late, declining both the ‘mad dash’ to Heaphy Hut and the use of a nearby DOC campsite ‘just off the track’ in favour of camping on the beach.

Wilderness publishes plenty of stories about tourists ruining the outdoors with their irresponsible actions, yet you promote freedom camping on a Great Walk, in a national park.

Going off-piste is damaging and arrogant, not to mention illegal in particular places (freedom camping is not allowed within 500m of a Great Walk track). DOC facilities are there to contain and minimise the environmental impacts of camping, especially in high-use areas.

An isolated beach-side camp might make a scenic photo, but Wilderness has a responsibility to not encourage others to break the rules.

– Lee Barry, email

Another tale of boot mishap

I just read the article ‘Boots best before date’ and thought I’d quickly share my story.

I have owned about four pairs of leather hiking boots in my ‘hiking life’ and never knew they could literally fall apart until pair number three. They had a ’rocker’ style where the sole had a bit of a curve to it. They were fabulous boots but without any warning the soles on both boots started to peel off. Of course this had to happen when I was doing my first long (eight day) solo hike!

The soles came away at both the forefoot and rearfoot simultaneously but were still solid in the midfoot. I was devastated and it was only day three.
I tried to source something from a few other hikers I met on the trail but to no avail – I had repair stuff for everything except boots. But then I came across a bloke who mentioned strapping tape would be durable enough. I was strapping my knees, so that was the end of my knee supports as I instead strapped my boots. Fortunately I had enough tape to last the distance, however my knees were a little worse for wear.

– Carolyn Clarke, Australia

Missing red

I moved from America to New Zealand in 2013 and am now a permanent resident. The country is beautiful by any measure; a surfeit of scenic set pieces almost unrivalled considering its geophysical compactness. So take the following with a grain of salt (or an appropriate regional spice of choice).

When I browse through an issue of Wilderness, I long to see red. Red rock, specifically. Most of the photography is very compelling – the ‘Last Weekend’ section, the featured trails and natural areas, the stories of people lost and found. Through it all, after five years of perusing many copies, I began to notice the lack of reds, oranges, and yellows in the landscapes.

Being originally from Pennsylvania, I didn’t see much of ‘nature’s red’ there either, except via the splash of autumn colours in October. But I have travelled through Arizona, Utah and parts of New Mexico where the red rock is such a force. And I miss it.

So what I’m requesting, if there’s the inclination, is to ask Wilderness to search out the best of New Zealand’s ‘red rock’, and feature it in one glorious go.

I miss red.

– Matt Kambic, Raglan

– As luck would have it, you can turn to p64 to view the red rocks of Mt Tarawera. Readers, have you any photos of red rock features around New Zealand we can publish (and pay you for) that will mitigate Matt’s homesickness? -AH

Go on, just eat it

Who says you must stick to ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ dates? I’ve always said they’re just a marketing ploy. If the item is not green and hairy or smelly, go ahead and enjoy it. I’m still alive to tell the tale.

Recently, my friend and I did a volunteer warden stint at Welcome Flat Hut in the beautiful Copland Valley. When packing my food box to be sent ahead by helicopter, I decided to add a packet of Absolute Wilderness Raspberries On Yoghurt dehydrated food, which was sitting amongst my tramping supplies. The best before date was shown as December 2010. Never mind, it’s time I used it I thought.

Once at the hut we opened the packet to find it rock solid. We grated it and added water, which mixed in but didn’t thicken up. So we sat the container in the hot pools overnight, but it still hadn’t thickened up by next morning.
Undeterred, we poured it on our daily porridge and it was delicious.

– Jean Hayward and Heidi Kuglin, email

Good advice

I agree with most of the advice offered in the story ‘Location awareness’, but I am not holding my breath in terms of changing outcomes. Unfortunately, most of the folk who need to take this good advice on board do not read Wilderness.

One sentence I thought could be improved was the one that says: ‘[I]t is important to look, listen, feel and smell your surroundings’.

I would suggest that first you need to take out your earbuds.

– Euan Nicol, email