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March 2016 Issue
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Pigeon Post, March 2016

Stitch the PLB case to an elastic band and wear beneath the breasts. Photo: Helen Peek

Letter of the month: Carrying a PLB for women

Where to wear a PLB is something I have contemplated at length (‘How to carry your PLB’, Wild Skills, December 2015). After taking into account pack hip belts and chest straps, garments worn, tramping conditions and the need to have the PLB on your person at all times, the result has been my under-boobs-band.

The PLB is worn sideways attached to a band, is tucked out of harm’s way, allows for full use of your arms and is comfortable enough to forget it’s there.

To make a band and attach the PLB will require a little sewing. All you need is a strip of elastic band wide enough to accommodate the PLB’s pouch and long enough to stretch around your torso, and the hooks and eyes of an old bra.

  • Sew the hooks and eyes to the ends of the elastic
  • Fold in half to get the centre of the elastic band
  • Fold the PLB pouch in half to get the centre
  • Align the centres and stitch the pouch to the elastic band
  • Insert PLB into the pouch and wear
  • I have also attached my PLB cord loop through the pouch so the two are joined – I don’t want to be stuck on a tiny ledge and drop the PLB!
  • I have also found that the band is worn best on the skin, as opposed to over a singlet.

– Helen Peek, e-mail

– Nice solution Helen! We’ll be sending you a Lowe Alpine Eclipse 25 pack worth $199.95 thanks to  Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

How valley got its name

I enjoyed reading about the Valley of Trolls on the Routeburn Track (Waypoints, January 2016).

In terms of how the valley came to be named, fellow guides have told me it is presumed to be named after the shape formed by snow on a rocky bluff next to the waterfall at the head of the valley. The shape resembles a troll’s face. It appears only a week or so from late November to early December.

– Sadao Tsuchiya, Routeburn Track senior guide

No to Rangiwahia booking system

As one of the stoat trappers that slept in the woodshed, (‘Notes from a small hut’, January 2016), I agree with Barbara Morris that it would be shame to put Rangiwahia Hut into the booking system. Sure, the hut is popular and accessible, but it is also a part of the Ruahine backcountry, used by more than weekend trampers.

Several times it has been a bolt hole when we have come in off the tops drenched and exhausted. An extra night at Rangi after a long day baiting some of the 500 traps in the Oroua Whio project has been a godsend. A chance to dry off, empty the packs of food, maybe scrounge some left-behind noodles, before heading back to civilisation.

A booking system would be an over-reaction to popularity, when a bit more flat tent space and a few extra mattresses for the floor would do the same thing.

A recent visit to the Orongorongo Valley near Wellington gave us an experience of the booking system. Two of us paid $80 for a bunk room that would have held eight. We momentarily panicked when the door codes to get in did not seem to work. Once sorted, we happily jammed open the front door to share the facilities with some day trippers. Coincidentally volunteer stoat trappers themselves. Don’t you find the best connections to like-minded people happen in the outdoors?

Later that afternoon, a gander up-valley took us to other huts whose occupants greeted us with steely gazes from inside their own temporary backcountry real estate. Neither willing to share nor interested in meeting anyone new. Where is the ethos of shelter from the storm?

Please leave the booking system for the Great Walk tourists.

– Fiona Burleigh, Palmerston North

A cunning plam

OK, I’ve got it figured: having failed to include your regular Wild Range column, you were aware there would be howls of protest, so you came up with a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a mustelid pest; namely, to drop Pigeon Post as well, thus silencing the critics! There will be repercussions!

And on the Geographx subject, assuming the February issue to be a temporary aberration, and taking a cue from #14 in February’s ‘Life List’, how about an eponymous series: Wilderness Areas of Aotearoa? It is surprisingly difficult to find where they are, let alone accurate maps of their boundaries.

– Richmond Atkinson, Eastbourne