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May 2017 Issue
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Pigeon Post, May 2017

Our letter of the month correspondent with this Petal Tikka+ headlamp worth $89.99

Letter of the month

The heroes have left the building

Your writer was lucky to find some solitude while paddling Abel Tasman National Park (‘Meeting your heroes’, March 2017).

Unfortunately, the article touched only briefly on the impact of mass tourism in this beautiful part of the country.

Having spent an extensive time recently in and around the many anchorages and small beaches of the park in a boat and sea kayak, I feel compelled to say the impact of tourism on this coastline is increasingly detrimental.

Last Christmas, it was not uncommon to see flotillas of guided kayakers descend locust-like on beaches while local beach users tried to defend tiny patches of sand to allow their children access to the water or for space to play.

When guides were asked if this overcrowding might be a problem, they seemed indifferent to, or unaware of, the situation.

One morning, while anchored in the lee of Adele Island, I witnessed, in the space of 10 minutes, more than 10 water taxis and two large, heavily-laden tourist launches arrive at the nearby seal colony to observe the wildlife. Does our precious marine mammal population need this unwelcome intrusion? Who oversees the interaction between tour operators, tourists and wildlife?

DOC should monitor concession holders more closely, for surely this level of intrusion is unsustainable – there seems to be nowhere in the park where you are guaranteed some solitude.

Maybe the heroes have left the building?

– David Cregan, Nelson

David receives a Petzl Tikka+ headlamp worth $89.95 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

A trip down memory lane

The idea of someone wanting to put life-size moa and a light show in the Oparara Arch (‘Walkshorts’, March 2017) horrifies me. Such an interpretive display would be wonderful in a DOC visitor centre, but not on site.

Surely the very definition of wilderness is somewhere to get away from all the trappings of civilisation and technology; to enjoy nature in the raw; to contemplate the wonder of creation.

I visited the Oparara Arches in the early 1980s, before Kahurangi National Park had been created. I had never heard of them until I arrived in Karamea and picked up a typewritten sheet of ‘Things to do’ in the area. At that time, public access to the arches was only available on Sunday, via a forestry road which was closed for logging operations during the week. Walking along the track, I was amazed at the lushness and diversity of the mosses growing on the forest floor. It was rather scary standing under the high arch at the top of the hill and noting some of the rocks – a few the size of houses – lying below, and knowing they must have fallen from the arch sometime in the past.

That same holiday, I found an interesting track up the Ngakawau River, through a tunnel, to the old Charming Creek Mine.

I also travelled to the Kohaihai River mouth. I had intended to take a picnic lunch and walk up the coast, where the Heaphy Track comes out, but was so plagued by wasps that I had to retreat. It was the first time I’d met up with these pests, but had to contend with them on another trip in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Thank you for sparking memories of a past trip.

–  F Dawn Gaskin, Stratford

Hot tip for smartphones

Cell phones are not the recommended communication device while tramping, but in an emergency anything goes.

Late last year, a friend and I did an overnighter on the new Kaimai Ridgeway tracks. My partner dropped us at the road end and I said we would call her with an ETA for our pickup.

My phone was at 70 per cent charge when I turned it off and put it in my pack.

The next morning, I was surprised to turn it on and see it had dropped to 10 per cent charge. I quickly turned it off to conserve the remaining power for my taxi booking.

An hour from the road, I powered up again to send the ‘leave home now’ message. It did not even have enough power to start up – oops!

So I put it in my chest pocket and continued another 15 minutes before trying again. Yeehaa – charge was now at 60 per cent.

Smartphones use battery voltage to indicate the charge status, and battery voltage is dependent on device temperature. If you need to make an urgent call and your phone has been in your pack and shows no charge, try sticking it in your warmest spot and waiting for 10 minutes.

– Bob Jordan, Hamilton

Thanks RCC and PLB

I would like to thank you for the article ‘Buyer’s Guide to PLBs’ (March 2017).

I read this two weeks before venturing into the wilderness. As it happened, I needed to activate my own PLB and was so reassured by the information gained by reading your article. Such as, activating it hours before darkness, being in an open area, and realising I had to patiently wait for the helicopter.

I also wish your readers to know the superb assistance from the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Wellington. They contacted my husband immediately the beacon was activated, but also rang him when the medics in the helicopter had checked my condition. Another call was made after my admission to hospital. It was so reassuring for my husband to be kept informed as to what was happening.

The RCC also wrote to me two weeks later to explain that I needed to have my PLB’s battery checked for future use. Wonderful service.

– Sue Skeen, email


Often when people ask why I enjoy tramping, the only reply I can muster is “Because it’s fun”, which makes absolutely no sense to non-trampers.

So, on a recent trip, I composed this song in an attempt to encapsulate some of the joys of tramping. This song should be sung to the tune of ‘Tramp, tramp, tramp the boys are marching’ /‘Jesus loves the little children’. (Listen to the tune here.)

– Heather Davidson, email 

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp!

As I amble through the bush
Tramping cheerfully along,
Listening to the bellbird’s melody
My heart it sings within,
This is where I do belong:
Among the birds and mountains, wild and free.

Tramp, tramp, tramp! The joys of marching
Over mountains, o’er hills,
And beneath the starry sky
We shall pitch our tents again,
With knowledge that there’s more to cover still.

We are following the route,
Picking carefully our way,
Swirling clouds and drifting rain obscure the view.
Undeterred we carry on,
This is summer after all;
Bad weather in New Zealand’s nothing new.

I lie in my tent worn out,
Muscles weary, yet content;
The journey has been long and hard today.
But despite the challenges
And the arduous ascent
I’ve relished every footstep ’long the way.

The aroma of wet earth
And the sunshine on my face,
Lungful after lungful of fresh air;
With nature all around
I am in my happy place.
There’s nowhere that I’d rather be than here!