Image of the May 2016 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
May 2016 Issue
Home / Articles / Pigeon Post

Pigeon Post, May 2016

Letter of the month: No kidding?

When Stephen Conn (Pigeon Post, April 2016) says that one of the worst things a nature lover can do to the environment is have children, I understand his point.

As a fellow nature lover, I share his despair at the environmental destruction going on. But responsible parenting is also the opportunity that we, as a species, have to turn this around. And really, if all the environmentally aware people stopped having children we’d lose this chance. When it comes to my own children, I have found that experiencing nature together provides some of the best chances to nurture their own sense of respect for the natural world. Not only that, but through wilderness experiences they can learn about leadership, decision making and risk, and build relationships that can last a lifetime. What better way could there be to inspire and equip children to be the environmental champions of the future?

Whether or not you have your own children, I’d encourage anyone to support children to get unplugged and into the wilderness.

– Helen Bayldon, email

– Helen wins a an AMK Escpae Bivvy bag worth $119.99. Readers, send your letter to the editor for a chance to win.

Hot ashes

Paul Corwin (Pigeon Post, April 2016) makes some good points about preventing hot ashes causing hut fires. A further excellent point is made by FMC president Robin McNeill who says: “Tidy trampers always clean out fireplaces, but I suggest that instead of doing so before leaving they should do so on arrival – when the fire will likely have been out for some time.”

It’s an idea that I’ll be adopting.

– David Barnes, Dunedin

No blind eye to cattle

In the article ‘Lake Taylor a storm in a teacup’ (Walkshorts, March 2016) it was said the regional council had ‘appeared to turn a blind eye’ to an incident of cattle photographed standing in the lake.

We definitely did not.

The photograph used by media was taken very early in January. We received the complaint on January 22 and were on-site on January 24 to investigate. Unfortunately, the person who took the photograph did not call us – the proper authority – to deal with these issues, and it was through the media, three weeks after the fact, that we were notified.

When we went to investigate, there was no sign of damage to the lake – not that you would expect anything after more than 20 days of January weather, just a few dried cow pats on the shore. There was no way a prosecution could be taken based on effect.

I do agree with the article’s statement that cattle in waterways is unacceptable and this is exactly what Environment Canterbury has said publicly from January 22. Such an action breaks our relatively new rules in our Land and Water Regional Plan (operative September 2015). We did issue an abatement notice to The Lakes Station on January 29, and it has not been appealed. The landowner has agreed to abide by the actions required and has taken steps, including erecting an electric fence, to ensure this never happens again.

I’d urge anyone in Canterbury who sees cattle standing in waterways to contact us as soon as possible so we can take action, as we do not turn a blind eye to these incidents.

– Bill Bayfield, CEO Environment Canterbury

Simon Bell’s legacy

Thank you for the article ‘Live for the outdoors’ (April 2016). Meghan Walker wrote of our son Simon Bell’s disappearance on Mt Earnslaw and his subsequent gift through donations of some of his estate towards FMC mountain safety and expedition projects, and through the book Simon’s Trips, compiled from writings and photos by Simon and his friends.

We are very grateful for FMC’s support. Their flexibility and expertise enabled both projects to be readily set up while the FMC Forest and Mountain Trust ensured tax-efficient use of modest funding. The project to convert Safety in the Mountains into an online resource was not our idea, but was an FMC initiative matching our criteria.

Simon had climbed 67 of the 100 great NZ peaks as listed by the NZ Alpine Club and posted about 100 climbs in total. His book is full of mountaineering information, stories and photos. It is available from in return for a donation ($33 suggested) to the FMC ‘Simon Bell Memorial Project’.

– Colin and Jeni Bell, Nelson

Don’t give away our wilderness

I recently walked Waiau Pass, Sabine Valley, Travers Pass and on to St Arnaud in Nelson Lakes National Park.

I have some major concerns for the lack of understanding and respect held by many of the tourists walking through that area.

I have been farming in the Canterbury high country bordering Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park all my life so have been dealing with visitors of all nationalities and from all walks of life. They have respected and enjoyed this country almost without fail – a countryside much cherished by us all.

I have been lucky enough to tramp throughout the world – Alaska, Italy, Switzerland, France, Nepal and more. In these places there are costs, checks and balances to ensure the environment is not abused no matter how large the human footprint. I was happy to accept their charges.

The section of Te Araroa Trail we completed in Nelson Lakes is in a stunning area which is in jeopardy of being destroyed by the numbers tramping it and a lack of understanding of environmental protection issues and facilities.

All along the trail we observed tufts of toilet paper on the sides of the track. Our night at John Tait Hut was spoilt by my having to shovel human faeces off the track 8m from the hut and 10m from the toilets.

It was with great sadness and alarm that we witnessed the abuse of what is, even on the world stage, a stunning wilderness area being so polluted. There is no way the present facilities on the Te Araroa Trail will cope with any increase in numbers as predicted for next summer. New Zealanders need to stop pandering to a numbers game and instead aim at maintaining quality for our visitors.

– Jim Murray, email

Countryside access

Did other readers see what I saw in the article ‘None shall pass’ (March 2016)?

A member of the police has bought a block of land, so that he can block access to publicly-owned bush, in order that he can have private hunting on it. Aren’t the police supposed to be public-spirited? This is the opposite and the law badly needs changing so some over-privileged landowners have fewer rights to keep the public from enjoying the countryside.

The Walking Access Commission puts on a brave face, but it has an impossible task and I don’t believe it is able to achieve very much at all.

It isn’t right that a relatively small number of people should have rights to keep the majority of us from enjoying large swathes of New Zealand land.

– Stephen Conn, Nelson