Haast-Hollyford RoadI take issue with several statements reported in the article on the proposed Haast-Hollyford road. Developer Durham Havill is quoted as saying: “We also have to cater for people who will never see this environment unless there’s a road through it.” Actually we don’t have to. Should we also build a road to the top of Aoraki so people can see the view? Or into the glow-worm grotto at Waitomo? With maturity comes the realisation that everyone can’t go everywhere by vehicle. He is also quoted as believing the unformed legal road was “illegally removed from maps”. Is there any legal requirement that maps show such roads? Makers of maps include and omit what they choose, from ‘terra incognita’ and ‘here be dragons’ to contour lines and historical sites. This unformed legal road was merely one of the many good ideas at the time, primarily to allow the exporting of gold from Queenstown by bypassing Dunedin. Other ideas included release of possums and rabbits. Southland District mayor Gary Tong claimed to be a greenie and said there are thousand of hectares of conservation land and national parks. Might I remind him that there are also thousands of kilometres of roads and we can build new roads but we can’t build new parks. True greenies are into preservation, not construction. - Ken Griffin, Auckland
Dramatic licencePat Barrett’s article ‘Rescue mission down the Hokitika’ (February, 2014) was a good read. As someone who has been roaming the various Hokitika River headwaters since 1971, I can identify with tales of challenging country and weather. I wish to point out that there appears to have been dramatic licence taken regarding when tracks were last cut and huts last used prior to the December 1977 trip described. For the record, the Hokitika tracks between Bluff Hut and the Whitcombe Junction had been cut in the late 1960’s. There were some nasty slips to negotiate between Serpentine and Junction huts by 1977 though! Frisco and Serpentine huts had been visited more recently than the 15 and 20 years ago suggested in the article. Deer cullers were using these huts up to and including the 1971 shooting season. After the ground-based cullers were pulled out and before Barrett’s December 1977 visit, the occasional NZFS employee and tramper visited these huts. - Glenn Johnston, former NZFS employee, Hokitika
Nightmare at Woolshed Creek HutI consider myself to be pretty laid back and it takes an awful lot to get me worked up and angry, but a recent overnighter to Woolshed Creek Hut in Mt Somers Conservation Area, was unbelievable, to say the least. What started out as a leisurely hike for my partner and I to celebrate our fourth anniversary soon turned into a nightmare – a wide awake one. Getting in at lunchtime, we chose our sleeping spot in a 12-person bunk room – little did we know who we would be sharing with: a couple and their two babies, the youngest being about 12 weeks old and the other about 18 months and not yet walking. The hut was chock full of people and dinnertime was a hive of activity. By about 9pm everyone was settling down for a night of rest with people on the floor, under benches, on the balcony and some in tents. Without a word of a lie, we were woken about 15 times during the night. It was a never-ending process involving a period of babies moaning, crying, lights on, ssshhhing from their mother and sometimes feeding. In the morning, not even an apology. I know these huts are there for all to enjoy, but to take such young children to a popular hut defies logic. I never took my daughter to stay overnight in a backcountry hut when she was a baby. You just don’t do it in consideration to everyone else staying there. - Dean Williams, e-mail
Finding north with your watchI have another method to Nathan Watson’s for finding north with a digital watch (Wild Skills, April, 2014): face the sun, remove the digital watch and throw it over your left shoulder. Another watch gone west! - Peter Vella, e-mail
Great actingI always enjoy the range of subject matter in Wilderness but have to say the photo illustrating the story ‘Limp solutions’ (Wild skills, April, 2014) is a pearler. The expression and palpable anticipation of an above knee squeeze and tickle with clenched fingers is truly delightful. My family loved it. - Derek Oakes, e-mail Reason given for Heaphy hut replacement In response to your correspondent John Langley (Pigeon Post, May, 2014), the new Heaphy and Perry Saddle huts were upgraded to meet DOC's standards for Great Walks huts. Both huts were about 45 years old, poorly ventilated and had inadequate communal space for the increasing number of visitors using them. It was more practical and cost effective to replace them with new huts rather than revamp the old huts. The new huts have more bunks and increased space for cooking and dining, and are better insulated. James Mackay Hut is currently being replaced. The hut replacements are part of a programme of track improvements to benefit walkers and bikers on the Heaphy Track in line with standards set for Great Walks tracks. These also include new suspension bridges to replace the older-style single-person swingbridges, and improvements to the track surface. DOC has also funded three single lane bridges in the Aorere Valley to allow walkers and bikers all-weather access to the track. - John Mason, DOC Takaka conservation services manager
On Haast-Hollyford RoadI wouldn't worry about the Haast-Hollyford Road or the monorail (Conservation, May, 2014). Here are two very good reasons why neither will happen:
- New Zealand doesn't have the population base for large-scale multi-million dollar private investment in infrastructure. We don't have the population base of Australia, for example, where there is a lot of private sector investment in everything from roads and tunnels to prisons.
- Both the road and the monorail don't have monopoly-like characteristics, which means for a potential investor their return on investment is questionable. Infrastructure as an investment only works if the developer has high barriers of entry or a market stronghold. The road and the monorail will have neither.