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May 2018 Issue
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Pigeon Post, May 2018

Our letter of the month correspondent receives a Life Systems first aid kit worth $89.95 from

Letter of the month

Hurry, or don’t 

Combining tramping and trail running doesn’t seem to make much sense (‘Competitive tramping’, March 2018).

When setting out on a tramping trip, most of us will have some goals in mind. The more usual ones being to simply enjoy being outdoors, seeing unspoiled views, familiar or new, to view animal and plant life, to listen to the birds, to escape the hustle and bustle. To best achieve such goals, you shouldn’t be in a hurry. Isn’t it nice to stop to view and listen to the birds, study and photograph a tiny bit of moss or delicate fungi, to pick up an interesting-looking rock, to sit in a  quiet spot with beautiful surroundings?

Trail runners pursue very different goals. They want to get or stay fit, to train for the next race, whether participating competitively or not. Yet it is nice to do so in an environment that is infinitely nicer than busy and noisy city streets or staring at the wall behind a treadmill.

I do both tramping and trail running, but I never try to do them at the same time. It would defeat both sets of goals.

– Pieter Lunenburg, Waiuku

Pieter receives a Lifesystems Mountain First Aid Kit worth $89.95 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

Tourist operators confuse falls name

What’s with calling the Bowen Falls, ‘Lady Bowen Falls’ (Walkshorts, March 2018)?

I’d never seen or heard that version of the name, other than as the name for one of the tourist boats, until it was printed in Wilderness.

My dad made the same comment. He first went there in the 1940s and decided to do some digging. He discovered the name Bowen Falls was bestowed when Sir George Bowen, the Governor, visited in 1871. A check of the NZ Gazetteer shows Bowen Falls as a recorded name, while historic and recent topo maps on  also show Bowen Falls.

– David Barnes, email

– David is correct – the falls are simply Bowen Falls. It is known as Lady Bowen Falls by the locals and is used in the commentaries aboard the day cruise boats. 

See even more goat haunts

Further to the article on backcountry destinations named after goats (‘See more… goat haunts’, March 2018), an additional and dramatic goat-named place is Lochnagar above the Shotover River.

This is presumably named after the Scottish original and is a corruption of the Scots Gaelic ‘Loch nan Gabhar’ or loch of the goats!

The original lies in the Cairngorm mountains on Balmoral estate, and the name applies to both the loch and the mountain above, as it is with its New Zealand counterpart.

– Andrew Holmes, Scotland

 Time to charge tourists

I’ve been living and working at Aoraki/Mt Cook for more than 30 years as a mountain guide and restaurateur. I’ve seen tourism change and grow considerably. In the last three years, I’ve noticed a huge jump in visitor numbers and a serious lack of infrastructure to look after the increase.

There are no two ways about it, we have to charge overseas visitors to use our parks – the backcountry and front-country.

Certain areas, such as the Hooker Valley Track and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, are so busy and pumping with people, predominantly from overseas, that we should just let these people continue to flood into these areas and leave the other areas (which I will not name) to Kiwis and others who are looking for that peaceful encounter with nature. Leave the hordes where they are – they are happy to visit the Great Walks and tick the destinations off their list of things to do in New Zealand.

– Charlie Hobbs, Mt Cook Village

TATers are veteran trampers

Your correspondent Mike Judd (‘Don’t blame the backcountry’, Pigeon Post, March 2018) has profiled Te Araroa Trail (TAT) walkers as people more suited to walking front-country tracks. He’s a long way from the truth.

I completed the trail in 2012 and can assure Mike there are plenty of places to die on the TAT if you are not careful, many ranges and rivers to cross and tough forest tracks. By the time thru-walkers have reached the Tararuas, they have tackled several days of exposure down 90-Mile Beach, the Herekino, Raetea, Omahuta, Russell, Mahoe and Pureora forests, amongst others. Coming from Bluff, they have tackled the entire South Island including the Longwoods, Takitimus, Motatapu, Ahuriri, Deception, Harpers, Waiau Pass and the Richmonds. Hardly front-country tracks, which I hope one day Judd will see for himself.

By the time they reach the Tararuas, they would have to be considered serious trampers.

Judd should recognise that Te Araroa is a national trail that has been successfully set up and promoted to long-distance walkers from all over the world and that makes it quite a different destination than your typical backcountry trail.

Long may the rugged Tararuas remain a highlight for Te Araroa Trail walkers. It certainly was for me.

– Debby McColl, Te Araroa Wellington Trust