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June 2013 Issue
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Pigeon Post, June 2013

Dorset Ridge Hut

Letter of the month: Staying connected

Every month we get Wilderness and gaze at the pictures of these beautiful destinations in our backyard, at present unreachable for us as we have two very young children. Our extended family also inhales the mag cover to cover. You cover all the issues and include such great gear summaries and advice.

The May issue also included the excellent NZ Trail Runner edition and with it the truly fantastic story of Nicola McCloy’s entry into running. How dare people shout at any runner – let alone at someone clearly taking on a new challenge – and no doubt from the luxury of their cars? This must make every runner’s blood boil. Nicola is a true adventurer and a pin-up girl for the joy of running. Keep it going lady!

Thanks for helping us stay connected to our New Zealand outdoors while we are on home duties.

– Diana Simpson, email

Paying hut fees necessary

Peter Lusk’s comments about hut fees (‘Wild Comment’, April 2013) are useful in so far as keeping those who manage huts aware of the fears of privatisation and track ownership, but it is a limited statement.

I don’t believe our taxes can possibly pay for the hut network, unless there is a change in the taxation system and/or all tourists entering New Zealand pay a fee towards this sort of service. As for ‘privatisation’ it sort of is happening already and in many circumstances it does not exclude people from using the huts. For DOC I suspect it is a fiscal necessity considering the imperative from the government to reduce spending.

If DOC started to lease their huts to guided parties so that we were not able to stay in their huts, I would object loudly but I have not seen any evidence of this so far.

Finally, if Lusk is not going to use huts I hope he carries a small spade to deal with his doings, which are becoming more and more of an issue in our backcountry, especially in areas designated for camping but where no toilets are provided. Toilet paper waving from a toilet in a high wind is bad enough but drifting across the track or off to one side in picnic areas is just not on.

I can remember in the old days at Empress Hut there was no toilet, and the approach to the hut in the height of summer could be quite disgusting.

Today I am very happy knowing my hut fees will help pay for the chopper to fly the toilet waste out at regular intervals.

– Peter Strang, email

Progressing the ideology of Pete Lusk, I should not be paying road user charges and should get free electricity, water and travel on Kiwi Rail. Lusk appears not to have factored the supply of coal, gas or wood when there are no combustible supplies at hand. When the long drop reaches its use-by-date, who pays for the replacement? I suggest the taxes collected from trampers over the years would not even cover the maintenance of huts and tracks in Nelson Lakes National Park, let alone the rest of the estate.

When one has been up to their butt in swamp pushing through scrub in the face of an incoming front, the sight of a hut is worth twice the price.

– Peter Vella, email

DOC should have final say over monorail and tunnel

The action of the Minister of Conservation in deciding to relieve the Department of Conservation of the final decision-making role in respect of the proposed monorail and tunnel projects in Fiordland smacks of political interference of the worst kind.

For the prime minister to state “It’s very hard to take the politics out of these decisions …. I think it probably makes sense for the government to step up and say through its minister we’ll make the decision it thinks is right” overlooks the fact that neither the government, nor the minister can make a decision that they just ‘think is right’.

Part IIIB of the Conservation Act 1987 makes no provision for ‘political consideration’. Instead, decisions on concession applications are required to be made on the basis of the effects of the proposed activity on the values of the subject land and the ability to avoid, remedy, or mitigate the effects to an acceptable degree. The legislation is specific to what the decision maker can consider!

Why has the Minister really decided to step in and make the final decision? Is it because a large number of public submissions challenging the application material and the applicants’ interpretation led to a recommendation that DOC decline one, or both of the applications?

If the government wants either of these proposals for purely political reasons, then it should have the guts to say so, and push through, under urgency, the necessary empowering legislation. However, if it is a government working democratically for the people of New Zealand, then it should step aside and let DOC do the job as prescribed by the Conservation Act.

– Wynston Cooper, email

Bush tucker

With regard to the article ‘Survival Grub: Eels’ (April 2013), please don’t overlook possums as an excellent and healthy source of protein, usually in plentiful supply in the bush and very easy to catch if you take a possum trap with you.

Eels are good to eat if they are there, and I advise always taking a short nylon line with a hook whenever you go bush. If you are also catching possums, their livers can be used as excellent bait for eels.

Eels are delicious salted and smoked and last a while, but they can also be boiled in the billy. If boiled it is best to remove the skin first then wash the flesh before cooking.

I once caught two eels on one hook. A good sized eel had taken the bait. Then a second much larger eel had decided to swallow the first eel.

When I was tramping I never wasted any of the flesh I had caught, sometimes carrying it for days before it was all consumed.

– Stephen Conn, Nelson

Dorset Ridge Hut

I agree with everything the author of the piece said about Dorset Ridge Hut in the Tararuas (‘Wild Trips’, May 2013). It is perhaps the most pleasantly sited huts in the range. It’s a little perplexing that it gets so few visitors as it’s less than an hour from the well patronised Tarn Ridge Hut.

The photo used to illustrate the article is of Tarn Ridge Hut with Bannister in the distance, not Dorset as captioned. Attached is a photo of Dorset Ridge I took Nov 2013 while there. To emphasise the author’s point we were the first there since June.

Bruce MacKenzie, email