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July 2016 Issue
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Pigeon Post, July 2016

Letter of the month

A magazine for all levels of experience

I have been reading Wilderness for a couple of years now. The photographs and insight into wild New Zealand has been a most inspiring adventure and a chance to discover what is out there through the escapades of others.  I love the great outdoors and tramp with friends, albeit on a rather simple scale in comparison to some of the more avid trampers whose stories are told in the magazine.

I did feel for a while that Wilderness was only talking to the most experienced outdoor experts, pitching the walks and articles at a totally different level to mine. I lost interest and thought I was so out of my depth, I should look to another magazine to encourage me to keep up with the ‘outdoors’.

I am glad to say that Wilderness seems to have changed tack a little and the coverage of more feasible walks and hikes is reassuring. As we enter the winter months, I look forward to reading about, and hopefully trying out, some of the walks suitable for my level of tramping: day walks with a bunch of friends.

Let’s hope you can continue to interest all levels of trampers.

– Hilary McKee, email

Hillary wins a a UCO A 120 Comfort Fit headlamp worth $84.99 from Readers, email for a chance to win.

How to s*** in the woods

This is the title of an excellent book by Kathleen Meyer. It goes into great detail and with much humour about the essentials of correct and environmentally sound disposal of human waste when in the wilderness.

It was sad to read Jim Murray’s letter, ‘Don’t give away our wilderness’, that the scourge of faeces and toilet paper is spreading in our beautiful backcountry. There have been a number of previous articles in Wilderness and I have seen faeces and paper spread around an isolated hut in remote Canterbury and right on the Motatapu Track near Wanaka.

Friends who have recently tramped in Sardinia said the trail was littered with human waste.

We must not let this happen here! We must educate all users of our wilderness.

I have (hastily) ‘designed’ a sign that could be put up in every hut in New Zealand.

This is a simple, cheap way of getting the message out there.

– John Forrester, email

A week in conservation politics

Budget week saw New Zealand politics at its best, or worst.

Early in the week, at a Department of Conservation conference in Dunedin, the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry, announced DOC was to get an extra $20million for pest control. Yee ha, we thought.

A few days later, when the 2016 budget was announced, Finance Minister Bill English comes along and says DOC will get a $34million cut.

Poor DOC, more budget cuts. Now it can either lean on corporate handouts, or ask more from volunteer groups.

– Ian McAlpine, Stratford

Religious propaganda on mountains unwelcome

Shame on George King and the Aetherius Society for plastering religious graffiti and their initials on the top of a mountain in white paint (‘Aoraki’s holy mountain’, May 2016).

The sin was committed in 1960, according to the wording in the photo, so let’s hope time and the weather have obliterated it.

Please don’t do this again. People don’t like it. If one visits a spot in the mountains, one wants to be accompanied by one’s own views, not confronted by the views of other people.

– Stephen Conn, email


Maybe it’s time for a name change for the Department of Conservation – to the Department of Tourism?

Under this government’s watch, it seems as though the human species has become more important than the conservation of our endemic and native species and protection of our natural resources.

In late May, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry suggested DOC could put up hut fees for overseas visitors. But there are already many overseas visitors avoiding paying hut fees, as well as New Zealanders, but at least Kiwis, in general, have paid the taxes that go to conservation.

DOC has just approved increasing daily helicopter landings on Ngapunatoru Ice Plateau in Fiordland from 10 to 80. This will cause extreme noise pollution for the Milford Sound area and the climbers and trampers expecting peace and solitude on Mt Tutoko and surrounding valleys.

There are already complaints about the helicopter noise in the Franz Josef valley, with flights at times three-minutes apart. Do we need to do the same to Fiordland?

Stop selling our soul for the sake of tourism and in the process destroying the outdoor experience for many.

– Pam Pope, email