Image of the May 2020 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
May 2020 Issue
Home / Articles / Pigeon Post

Pigeon post, May 2020

Our reader of the month receives a Petzl Bindi headlamp worth $119.

Letter of the month

I returned to the trail, too

Thank you to Nikki Slade Robinson and others who contributed to ‘Return to the trail’. Hearing other women’s stories is inspiring and encouraging.
In late October 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When my surgeon asked me if I had plans for Christmas, my reply was: “Yes, I’m booked to tramp the Routeburn, Kepler and Rakiura”.

Sadly, I had to accept this might not happen. My surgeon’s response was the most positive statement I’ve ever heard. She simply said: “We’ll make that happen.”

In early November, I had a lumpectomy with radiation therapy scheduled to start two days after we arrived home from the South Island.

I was able to complete the three walks with amazing support from family and friends. A lighter load in my pack and a slower pace meant I was able to have some incredible experiences and mentally ‘bank’ beautiful scenery which I focused on while undergoing radiation therapy. An amazing health care team and supportive family and friends meant I could ‘breathe green’ and go into radiation therapy feeling physically and mentally prepared. I can’t thank them enough.

– Rachel Mackay, Kapiti Coast.

– We wish you all the best for your continued recovery, Rachel. For sharing your story, you’ll receive a Petzl Bindi headlamp worth $119 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

Sacred summits

The article ‘To summit or not to summit’ raised some interesting ideas, but I respectfully suggest the conversation is missing an important consideration.

People should be free to act as they see fit, provided it does not adversely affect others, regardless of who they are. It is unjust for any one group to expect or demand compliance with their beliefs from other groups who hold different beliefs.

If one group does not wish to stand on the top of a mountain, they are fully entitled to do so. But they should not expect or demand that others, who do not share the same beliefs, do the same. For me to feel I have completed a summit, I will have climbed to the top and returned safely to the starting point.

If one group wishes to impose a rāhui, they are entitled to do so, but they should not expect or demand that others who do not share the same beliefs also comply. I will ignore a rāhui but respect the right of others who wish to comply to do so.

Cultural respect should be about the freedom to hold your own beliefs whilst accepting others may have different beliefs.

– Mike Hayman, email

As a geologist, I have no time for superstition, witchcraft, legend, myths or ancestral folklore in any practical, day-to-day situation. I am not going to abstain from standing on one little patch of ground miles from anywhere just because of a fairytale that exists inside someone else’s head.

If there is a rāhui or DOC restriction in place for some good reason, then I would honour this. For example, I would respect a rāhui on stopping kauri dieback and not removing pounamu and other taonga.

I would also respect Māori protocol on a marae or urupa (burial ground) or similarly at a church or mosque. But these things are human constructs.

The natural landscape is different. There is no anthropomorphic element in a mountain range. There may be some national laws that apply to these areas, but traditional Māori beliefs have no dominion or jurisdiction here. The mountains were here many thousands or millions of years before Māori came and any claim to the supernatural high ground will only last a blink of an eye in geological time.

I believe in the right to free speech, the freedom of personal belief and being able to exercise any expression of your beliefs (as long as it does not unduly impact on the rights and beliefs of others).

Whilst I respect the right to have an opinion or belief, I do not necessarily respect someone’s opinion or belief. If we respected everyone else’s opinion or belief, then we would be guilty of hypocrisy and double standards. Does anyone respect Israel Folau’s rants on social media?

People are free to believe in whatever supernatural ideas they want, but there should never be a compulsion to believe or to conform to anyone else’s belief.

I’m sure that most Māori would not be offended if a climber were to stand on the summit of Aoraki/Mt Cook. If some think they have been offended, then perhaps they should consider broadening their attitude.

– Ryan Lock, email

A balanced pack

In the article ‘Return to the trail’, the author and other breast cancer survivors all stated they have trouble balancing after their respective surgeries and found it difficult to find a suitable pack.

I wonder if any of these women have tried an Aarn balance pack? I have had mine for four years and love it. I find I carry very little weight on my shoulders.

– Stuart Prattley, email

Trampers, take off your headphones

In reply to ‘Bikers, ring your bell’, I would like to reply from a biker’s perspective.

Yes! We all share the same trails, both walking and cycling, but I note that when coming up behind a walker or jogger, I always slow down and ring my bell, but mostly to no avail as they have ear plugs or headphones covering their ears, and inevitably don’t hear me anyway. And when they get a fright, you never know which way they are going to move on the track. Therefore, I think walkers have to take some responsibility for not hearing cyclists.

– Anne McDermott, Bluff

Buy local

We have all been impacted by the coronavirus, some mildly and some significantly. Our leadership and medical professionals have done their bit to help us through this situation. It is now our time to stand up. I encourage everyone to head out and buy local – New Zealand makes some fantastic products and they all need our support more than ever to keep going. In an upcoming edition could Wilderness do a review of solely NZ products?

Everything from clothing to equipment, this can give all of us an opportunity to fully appreciate and purchase what is on the market.

– Thomas Trott, email