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November 2015 Issue
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Pigeon Post, November 2015

Tenure review not compulsory

You were incorrect to state that pastoral leaseholders are ‘being forced by government to go through tenure review’ (‘From the editor’, October 2015).

Tenure review is an entirely voluntary process and even if a lessee enters into the process, they are free to withdraw at any time. Whatever your views on the tenure review process, it is a fact that it has resulted in some outstanding outcomes for recreation and public access to the backcountry, particularly in the Southern Lakes and Central Otago. You could spend a lifetime and still not exhaust the new recreational opportunities that have been created over the last decade within an hour’s drive of Queenstown and Wanaka.

The reason all the Great Walks, huts and tracks are located down here and not close to Auckland is quite simple – this is by far where all the best scenery and tramping is. I often meet Te Araroa Trail through-walkers in the Southern Lakes who invariably express disappointment at the trail through the Waikato, Auckland and Northland. A common theme is that it is just pockets of uninteresting, degraded and weed-filled bush artificially linked by country roads, with boring scenery. It is too humid for tramping and it rains a lot.

There is just nowhere suitable for a multiday hut and track system anywhere from the Waikato to Cape Reinga. With 1.4 million people close by, any such system would be overwhelmed. You only have to visit the grossly overcrowded monstrosity Pinnacles Hut in the Coromandel to see that. No hut would be more than about half a day’s walk from a road and experience everywhere else suggests such huts would invariably get trashed by bogans.

Auckland outdoor activity is all about the sea – wonderful beaches, the Hauraki Gulf, the wild black sand, gathering kaimoana. The vast majority of Aucklanders have no connection to New Zealand’s traditional backcountry culture. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it means there is no justification for wasting taxpayer’s money on building huts and tracks close to Auckland.

Queenstown is only an hour’s flight from Auckland and there are some really good deals on fares. It can often be cheaper and quicker to fly to Queenstown than to spend hours driving south to find somewhere decent to tramp.

– Peter Dymock, Alexandra

Shaken, not stirred

I read the article ‘Sobering thought’ (Wild comment, October 2015) about mixing alcohol and tramping with interest.
We are freedom hikers, but did a guided walk this year. We were horrified at the amount of alcohol consumed by some walkers at the huts, to the extent they were loud, became obnoxious and abusive, and made it unpleasant. The trouble with the guided walk is if people want to pay for it, they can purchase unlimited alcohol.

And after a bottle of wine or two some people just ruin it for everyone.

– Diane Chandler, Nelson

More boredom, please

Wilderness does a great job of promoting and accessing the backcountry of by tramping and climbing. We have some stunning country and a fortunate, broad network of huts.

Now, I do enjoy my tramping. But sometimes tramps can have parts that are simply an unending trudge and, dare I say it, somewhat boring!

How about some stories on the downsides of tramping – the dull, the unscenic, the unexciting? You could keep it in a humorous vein, in order not to put budding trampers off

– Elizabeth Bridge, e-mail

– Surely you jest – boring parts to tramping? – AH

Trail chat

We asked readers what they prefer and why: camp, hut or bivvy. Here’s a sample of their responses:

“Mr6 and Mr8 always come with us now, so huts are easier” – Karen Hutchings

“Basic hut or bivvy, don’t like the fancy ones” – Russell Pullar

“Don’t get me wrong, I love the camp or bivvy options, but there is backcountry camaraderie in a hut. Meeting interesting people from different backgrounds and nationalities all brought together through a common love for the outdoors” – Terry Skudder

“Camp, love the whole outdoor experience!” – Carolyn Vasta

“Definitely camp. Off track, away from the crowds and on the tops by a mountain tarn or stream. It’s free and no bloody sandflies!” – Richard Forbes

“Hut but not too fancy. Getting too soft” – Patsy Naylor

“I always sleep best in the tent” – Jo Martindale