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February 2019 Issue
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Pigeon Post, February 2019

Our reader of the month receives a Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp worth $89.95 from

Letter of the month

Inspired to tramp with bubs

Regarding the article ‘Babe in the woods’, thank you for the motivation to change my status quo.

I am the father of a nine-month-old girl and facing my first year without tramping. While we have been on multiple holidays in this short time, we haven’t been tramping. This article was so inspiring it brought a tear to my eye. I wholeheartedly admire what Katy and her husband achieved after four months. You are very brave souls. I dread to think of the weight of your packs!

This article was fantastic and just what I needed. Thank you for the tips, my mind is a whirl of plans!

– Ricky Pugh, email

– Ricky receives a Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp worth $89.95 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

Rakiura Track is great

Having recently walked the Rakiura Track, we were surprised to find it’s not at all ‘tedious’ as the author claimed (‘Up anchor‘). Rakiura/Stewart Island is a richly-forested area and the Rakiura Track showcased a range of forest habitats over different elevations, and is rich with wildlife. If your writer finds wildlife so boring, and is just after open vistas, then I suggest next time a walk in one of the many over-farmed ecological dead-zones of central Otago.

And perhaps in future when Wilderness reviews a Great Walk you could ask a writer who actually enjoys the walk so we can all enjoy a fairer and more readable review?

– Bryony Slaymaker, email

Lake Waikaremoana not so ‘Great’

I recently spent four days tramping around the beautiful Lake Waikaremoana. The track to Panekire Hut and down to Waiopaoa Hut was in good condition and the hut itself was good for a Great Walk hut, but without gas.

Unfortunately the track was closed from Waiopaoa Hut to Waiharuru Hut due to storm damage.

A temporary ferry is provided by Ngai Tuhoe from Waiopaoa Hut to Waiharuru Hut at the cost of $50/person.

Our last night we stayed at Wanganui Hut, which was cramped and had no facilities at all – equal to a backcountry hut.

There were no wardens in any huts.

The track surface at lake level was very muddy and not up to Great Walk standard.

Big Bush water taxis no longer runs a service from Wanganui Hut to Onepoto. To replace this, the iwi offered a complimentary road service from Hopuruahine Landing to the campsite. We booked this and confirmed the time of pick up twice with the office. Unfortunately, the transport did not arrive and we began walking up the road towards the campsite 28km away. There is a low volume of traffic on the road and we walked for an hour before a car came along.

A kind local then gave us a lift to Onepoto to get our car.

The iwi has recently taken over of the running of the track from DOC which I am sure has been challenging.

I feel the re-opening of the damaged section of the track should be fast-tracked as it has been closed for three months now.

I also advise trampers to make their own arrangements for transport at both ends of the track.

Apart from those hiccups, we had a great time.

– Mike Miller, email

DOC’s forgotten its role

It seems that the Department of Conservation has lost the meaning of the mission contained in its name: conservation. Instead it is becoming a real estate agent for commercial opportunities.

Slowly, bit by bit, the natural estate is sold away to private interests which will sabotage these unique places with more engines, more noise, more emissions, for a handful of wealthy tourists. Each time, there is no trade-off for nature: more flights are added to an area, but none are removed from another. Nature loses, and trampers (or whoever seeks peace and quietness in nature) lose too.

A few years ago, I read that some conservationists feared New Zealand would become a giant theme park. It seems this will realise itself, eventually. Doing so will, of course, backfire: people visit New Zealand for its natural wonders, not to hear the constant buzz of flying machines, which they can easily listen to at home.

200 flights a day for Aoraki/Mt Cook’– it’s insane just writing it. And they dare to say that trampers should be happy that it won’t be that many every day when the weather is bad – when it rains, it’s all yours guys! Why is there even a submission process for that? Who can be happy about this, but the flight operator?

DOC should be the guardian of the estate. It should protect and preserve the national parks, and New Zealand nature in general. Sadly, the exact opposite is currently happening. This is even more sad considering the current government had displayed an appetite to preserve New Zealand’s natural bounty.

– Benoit Pette, Wellington

Whitebait recipe ill-timed

I was disappointed to see a recipe for whitebait spring rolls sent in the ‘Five from the archive’ email sent to subscribers on December 29 last year.

Nearly all species of whitebait are either declining in number or are threatened by chronic overfishing. As such a small fish at the bottom of the food chain, their existence is vital for many of our ocean ecosystems and the larger fish species that depend on them as a food source.

A magazine for those who love nature and the outdoors should not be promoting the catching of such a vulnerable species. I would expect a publication such as Wilderness to champion sustainable and positive practises that don’t harm the natural environment or its inhabitants. All of which makes New Zealand and its outdoors so spectacular.

It would be really great to see Wilderness take a more proactive approach to these issues – and to use its place as a specialist magazine to encourage and champion more sustainable ways to interact with our awesome country.

– Rikki Smith, email