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February 2015 Issue
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Pigeon Post, February 2015

Letter of the month

Pouakai Crossing

The article ‘Alpine crossing number two?’ (November 2014), which suggested a day trip in Egmont National Park to rival the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, gave me a sense of déjà vu – or was I thinking somebody was reinventing the wheel?

I began tramping with New Plymouth Boys’ High School tramping club in the early 1960s. One of the trips we did regularly was to go from Carrington Road, up the Kiri Track which followed a ridge directly to Pouakai summit, down the other side to where the much photographed tarns are, then down Mangorei Track, turning off at the junction with Plymouth Track which re-joined Kiri Track just before the road.

This tramp was an easy day’s round trip for moderately fit people. It gave all the views from Pouakai and the tarns touched on in the article, and had the great advantage of finishing where you started. In those days, the school had a hut ‘The Cottage’ at the Carrington Road end where we spent many an enjoyable weekend. There was also Pouakai Hut and Mangorei Hut, now replaced by the new Pouakai Hut.

In my mind, recutting the Kiri and Plymouth tracks would be a much better option than continuing the Pouakai Track through to Carrington Road.

As the article stated, the through-track from North Egmont to Carrington Road would take 6-9hr, and, knowing the route, that would be for very fit people not too intent on admiring the scenery. Most others would want to stop over at either Pouakai Hut or Holly Hut. Promoting the through-track as a complement to the Tongariro Crossing would increase the demands on these huts which are already well used.

Clearly there would be more track cutting involved but reinstating the Kiri/Plymouth round day trip would be more practical and enjoyable for those casual trampers who have enjoyed the Tongariro Crossing but do not have all the gear required for an overnight trip. There would be no need to arrange transport at one end and there would be no need, in the longer term, to expand the Pouakai or Holly huts.

– Kevin Sampson, Katikati

Tips for a better night’s sleep

What a breath of fresh air Jo Stilwell’s article ‘No room for cry babies’ (December 2014) was.

I fully agree – if we choose to sleep in a hut, we’re all in it together, come what may. I’d add a top tip though, one that can draw precious extra rest even from the worst of hut nights: ear plugs. A couple of dollars from any pharmacy, I keep a pair in my first aid kit so they’re always with me. And not just for ‘the others’ either. I’ve been known to snore myself awake only to find half a dozen people staring at me. You’ll know if I’m in your hut – I’m the bloke who sleeps with his boots by his head to protect from Nocturnal Flying Objects, with mostly limited success. Just as well I prefer to sleep outside.

– Mark Ashcroft, email

Roam with permission, don’t trespass

Out There columnist Mark Banham suggests ‘people should be able to freely wander over private property in New Zealand’ (‘Forgive us our trespasses’, November 2014).

I am writing to ask if you would balance things up by asking for some views of private property owners and if I can pitch my tent on Banham’s front lawn in the city without his permission?

I have had a wonderful outdoor life, born and bred in small town New Zealand and now a landowner. I know my own country well.

My views about private property are very clear. I would not think of entering private property without the consent of the owner (which is usually no problem).

If it is your wish for landowners to close their borders and shut everyone out, then Banham’s article has the recipe.

On the other hand, one third of New Zealand is in conservation land, plus we have miles of ocean, lakes and foreshore to roam. I have never felt unfairly restricted in my own wanderings because of private property. And most owners will allow reasonable access if you ask.

Many landowners would agree that the problems with access come from the people like Banham, who do not have the courtesy to ask for permission to enter.

Our recreation does not come before someone’s livelihood and life investment.

– Bruce Vickerman, email