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February 2011 Issue
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Pigeon Post, February 2011

Letter of the month

Saving that waterproof breathable

I live in Southland and tramp mostly in Fiordland, Stewart Island and around Arthur’s and Lewis Passes; in addition I once worked for outdoor manufacturers for a number of years and have been a keen tramper for 30 years – so I know a few tricks! One thing I need is a reliable rain jacket.

here’s the trick:

1) Wash (well) both sides of the fabric with warm (never hot or cold) water using a sponge;

2) Using an approved DWR (durable water resistant) spray for breathable garments, spray and then rub with a cloth a small area of fabric. Do a small area (say half a sleeve) at a time to ensure coverage;

3) Hang up in the shade to air/dry

I find I use about 2/3 of a can and generally get another one or two years of use from the jacket. If you use the right product the rain should now bead off your jacket. This process renewed my faith in expensive breathable jackets and prevented me from giving up on them as unreliable and heading back to PVC/nylon.

– Brett Smith, Invercargill

Great walks, but where?

Just got hold of the December 2010 issue: it’s my first copy and it’s a great mag! As a foreigner (recently arrived in New Zealand) I only have one suggestion. Not knowing the country, and reading through the main feature – ‘Walks that will change your life’ – it was really difficult to work out in which part of the country each recommended walk was.  

To anyone not familiar with Kiwi place names, and just relying on the large scale maps provided for each walk, it’s not easy to work out where these walks are.

Is it not possible to use a small map at the top of the page which at least illustrates in which part of the country each place is? That way, even new arrivals and tourists wanting to enjoy your magazine and plan a few walks can get a better understanding of where they need to go.

Just a thought from your newest fan!

– Gary Lawrence

– This letter is the straw that broke the camel’s back. After numerous requests to include more maps to show where various walks are we’re finally caving – see this issue’s lighthouse feature for example. – Ed

A beautiful, inaccessible, site

I agree with everything Ian Rogerson said in his December article on Boulder Lake (‘A beautiful site’, p88) – what a beautiful site and how blessed are we to have it on our doorstep.  

Unfortunately we are now the only ones who can walk this track to Boulder Lake: the James Road Bridge was washed away in the severe floods on December 28, 2010 and there is now no way of crossing the river. It is hoped that there will be a foot bridge in place by the beginning of February, which will be a great start, but will lengthen the trip described by Ian by at least 5km.  

Many Wilderness readers will have walked the track and will remember us and our farm – perhaps we have driven you to the Bainham shop so you could hitch back to Takaka, or maybe we took you in our 4WD to the end of the road saving you an hour’s walk? Maybe you parked and camped, and wrote in the intentions book on our farm, or just filled your water bottle or sat on our deck waiting to be picked up. If so, could you please write to Tasman District Council requesting that the council replace the bridge quickly as without this bridge one of the main Golden Bay access points to Kahurangi National Park is lost.

– Graham and Jenny Pomeroy, Collingwood

Contorta control

I would like to provide some background to the pines growing near to Ngamoko Hut that Richard Davies mentioned in his article ‘Melancholy in the Ruahines’ (October 2010). Over recent years I have been involved with Rangitekei Helicopters and DOC in removing all Pinus contorta that is known about in the Ruahines. DOC will respond to any reports of contorta, if you can not kill them yourselves record the grid reference and pass it on. 

Two years ago I discovered a couple of quite large contorta growing near the top of Remutupo in the north-west Ruahines which have since been removed. Then last year I managed to cut out a small contorta growing near the top of Mangamahue at an elevation of 1620m. This illustrates that we all need to keep an out for plants that are beyond known areas. If cutting one down please ensure that you remove all greenery, otherwise they will grow again.

The majority of pines in the various catchments of the southern Ruahines were planted as seedlings or by seed being thrown around by the NZ Forest Service many decades ago.

The areas that have had contorta will be monitored over the years with any regeneration to be targeted. The pines that are still there are Pinus radiata and do not have the same colonising attributes as contorta do and over time the radiata will gradually die off.

The areas of radiata are quite extensive in some spots and the cost to remove these is prohibitive. This photo shows the darker coloured contorta growing where planted on a slip top amongst the leatherwood, with radiata lower down.

– David Eaton, email

Forests destroyed faster

The figures given for the destruction of forests worldwide in ‘Seeing the Forest beyond the Trees’ (January 2011, p78) need correcting.

For instance, they should read ‘Over the last ten years we’ve destroyed 13 million hectares of forest per year‘. Not per 10 years as stated (see ). That means we are destroying an area the equivalent of New Zealand (about 27 million hectares) every two years, not every 20 years as stated in the article.

 Forests contain a lot of interesting wildlife. It is tragic that with the destruction of rainforest an estimated 50,000 species of plants, animals and insects become extinct every year. 

Too many people on earth, seven billion of us, and the need to provide for us, I see to be the main cause of the problem.

– Stephen Conn, Nelson

Hairy memories of Dore Pass

One sentence near the top of page 59 of the December 2010 issue really captured my attention. In particular, two words: ‘Dore Pass’.

The day 57 years ago that I tangled with that track is forever etched in my memory. During February 1954, I did a solo 10 day tramp which included the Routeburn (Kinloch was the beginning of the track) Dore Pass, Milford and Greenstone tracks. By today’s standards the huts ranged from primitive to basic, but were still worth their weight in gold. The tracks were sometimes so narrow that the odd leech would accept a ride and feed.

Over the years I have followed the development of these and other tracks, except the Dore Pass, about which I have heard or read practically nothing.

Many years ago I remember words like ‘Hard’, ‘Testing’, ‘For guided parties only’ and even ‘Closed’ associated with the track but for about a decade – nothing. I assumed the track over Dore Pass was history. Thank you Nick Groves for putting me straight and reigniting the memory of that crossing.

I would welcome news of its present status and, even better, a recent map and report. The hairiest 50 yards of my tramping life were on that track. Just above the bushline a still active, hanging, slip/scree had to be crossed. No alternative.

I will never forget it.

– Alan Anson, Tairua