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February 2018 Issue
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Pigeon Post, February 2018

Our winning correspondent receives a Black Diamond Stride headlamp worth $70

Letter of the month

Christmas poem

I was delighted to receive a poem from my nine-year-old daughter on Christmas Day.

We live in Island Bay, Wellington, and as a family we love walking in the nearby bush. I thought your readers might appreciate the poem, too.

– Gillian Henderwood

The New Zealand Bush
By Molly Henderwood

The tiptoe of the kiwi
Wandering through the bush.

The song of the tui
Echoing through the trees.

A little blue penguin
Curled up near the beach.

The excitement of the kea
Running down the roots.

The beauty of the fantail
Brightens the morning.

The New Zealand bush.
Gillian receives a Black 

– Thanks for sharing Molly’s poem, Gillian. We’ve got a Black Diamond Stride headlamp worth $70 from heading your way. Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win

No soap in streams

Contrary to the advice in the article ‘Staying healthy on the trail’ (December 2017), it is not OK to use biodegradable soap to wash in mountain streams. It simply isn’t biodegradable enough to be safe to use in mountain watercourses. It can still kill plants and animals and shouldn’t be put into any wild water at all. It’s reckless to publish such advise and DOC certainly wouldn’t agree with using biodegradable soap.

– Wayne Clark, email

Old maps show incorrect location for Quarterdeck Pass 

From French Ridge, the Quarterdeck has always been well defined. Leaving French Ridge Hut at 1465m, the rocky ridge narrows, then gains the crevassed snow slopes of the Quarterdeck. You barely need a map.

However, approaching from the west, over the Bonar Glacier and with convection cloud rolling across its white expanse, the pass is less obvious. Numerous climbers have ended up either climbing Mt French or finding the Flight Deck at the base of Mt Avalanche. The fact that, for many years, the Mt Aspiring topo map showed Quarterdeck Pass 400m to the west of the correct location hasn’t helped things. Climbers have been stranded, forced to bivvy or have become injured in attempting this false pass.

The newest maps of the area have corrected the error, but the maps on the walls of local huts are old and still show the incorrect location for Quarterdeck Pass. If you have an old map, check it out and make the correction.

– Geoff Wayatt, email

Deer release a ‘kick in the teeth’

I am both a tramper and hunter and it is a shame that Dave Hansford seems intent on tarring all hunters with the same brush as those radical few anti-1080 campaigners who illegally released sika in Taranaki last year (‘A fury unleashed’, January 2018).

The vast majority of hunters strongly object to this sort of liberation as it does nothing to contribute to the sensible management of wild deer or the image the general public have towards recreational hunters. The inflammatory title of the story is more in keeping with a propaganda statement than the reality of what most hunters believe.

Groups such as the NZ Deerstalkers Association and NZ Game Animal Council work tirelessly with DOC and others to manage game numbers and provide infrastructure to support people using the outdoors. These illegal releases are a kick in the teeth to both hunters and all other outdoor users.

There also seems to be some confusion about deer and Predator Free 2050. DOC’s director general stated that the release of these deer was sabotaging the initiative.

Like Hansford, I am no scientist, but I am pretty sure deer are not predators. They are browsing animals and in moderate numbers have little negative effect on the bush. In general, they add to the outdoor experience. Many trampers I have spoken to over the years will mention seeing a deer or chamois and always relay it as a positive experience.

New Zealand has embraced the introduction of brown and rainbow trout and thought them worthy of mindful management. Perhaps it is time deer were looked upon in the same light?

– Brent Cameron, Nelson.