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November 2019 Issue
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Pigeon Post, November 2019

Our letter of the month correspondent receives a Pocket Rocket Deluxe stove with piezo ignition worth $169.99

Letter of the month

Pirongia proof of 1080 effectiveness

In regard to Kevin Hague’s request for trampers to speak up on the benefits of 1080, a friend and I started off-road running on Mt Pirongia in 1997.

We have run the same track throughout the year and started at the same time in the early evening – a time of day when one would expect to hear the evening chorus of birds. But the reality was that the forest was silent, except for the hissing and growling of possums which were a common sight bounding off the trail and into the trees.

It was not until around 2007 that we saw the first of the signs saying that 1080 was about to be used on Pirongia. In the years that followed, there was a noticeable increase in the birdlife and with additional 1080 drops since then, the forest has come alive.

Having run the same track every week for 22 years, you get to know every change in the forest and we both agree that the use of 1080 on Mt Pirongia has undoubtedly allowed the bird population to increase and thrive. Years of silence has been transformed into a constant chatter of birds which starts as soon as you arrive at the car park where you are greeted with the sounds of tui, bellbirds and warblers.

Thanks to 1080, birds have been brought back to Pirongia for all to enjoy.

– Steve (last name withheld), email

– Steve receives MSR’s best selling Pocket Rocket Deluxe stove with piezo ignition worth $169.99 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

Local huts miss servicing

Two of my favourite places for an overnight stay are the Nina and Boyle Flats huts, both in the Lewis Pass area. However, I have become increasingly disappointed and saddened at the poor servicing and upkeep of these huts by DOC.

In early September, at Nina Hut, the toilet was close to overflowing and, as usual, there was no wood for the fire. In the last year, I have not seen any wood at all provided by DOC, but plenty of evidence of people hacking away at trees around the hut.

Boyle Flats is the same, exac-erbated by the large numbers of Te Araroa Trail walkers now passing through. To give credit where due, I have recently returned from Boyle Flats where DOC had obviously been doing track maintenance, including stocking up the wood supply – the first time they’ve been there in a long while.

I’m not interested in joining large queues of people paying silly money on the Great Walks. Like many regular trampers, I like the relative solitude and comfort of a warm hut on a cold night. It would be nice to see DOC doing a bit more work locally. I regard the DOC men and women at the coal-face as hard-working and dedicated people – this is a management issue.

– Craig Minehan, Lyttelton

Instant mash

While I think that the regular instant mashed potato is useful, I cannot agree about it being indistinguishable from fresh. It’s indistinguishable from KFC potato, which I dispose of if supplied with a meal.

However, the Backcountry Cuisine version is excellent and worth the modest price and is great as a meal extender. In addition, it can rescue those meals that you’ve added too much water to.

– Adrian Davis, Thames

Old boots last well

In 1990, my husband and I moved to the Hawke’s Bay where we discovered we had a taste for tramping.

My husband said we should take this seriously, so we signed up for a night class run by Mountain Safety Council.

After several sessions, I realised that a pair of good quality boots would be essential but the cost was going to be a problem.

One of the instructors, on hearing of my dilemma, told me that a family member had an old pair of boots that if they fitted me, I could buy. Nearly 30 years later, these boots are still comfortable.

I have tramped through rivers, streams, snow, mud, bush and scree, safely gripped to the earth by these sturdy boots.

They now have a few splits in the leather, the toes are badly scuffed and the lining is slowly fraying at the edges; but the uppers are still firmly stitched to the soles, and now, at age 80, I can see these boots doing me for a few more years yet. Maybe one day I can hand them on to someone else who needs a good loyal pair of boots when my tramping days are over.

– Anne Parore, Hawke’s Bay

Tararuas not bursting yet

Regarding the story ‘Rise and rise of the Tararuas’, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to claim these ranges are ‘practically bursting at the seams with trampers’.

Over four days last March, we shared a hut with only one other person. Start a trip on a Sunday – the day the hills empty out – and avoid the hotspots, and you will be unlucky if you experience overcrowding.

– Dave Scoullar email

Routeburn review misleading

I thought something wasn’t quite right about the TripAdvisor review from one disgruntled visitor to the Routeburn Great Walk that was included in ‘Not so Great Walks’.

The article quoted TripAdvisor reviewer msnakim, who walked a section of the Routeburn Track and said: “You get bored after the first 15 minutes as it all looks the same. The Sugarloaf swingbridge provided some diversion, but that’s about all you get.”

The mention of the swingbridge being the highlight gave me a hunch as to which section of the Routeburn they did, and a quick search for their TripAdvisor review confirmed it, the first sentence being: ‘We did the much shorter Routeburn Nature Walk (60min return) and weren’t particularly impressed.’

It’s odd and misleading for Wilderness to leave this first sentence out of the article, which would have given readers context about the location that was reviewed.

The reviewer did a nature walk which includes a 30-minute section of the Routeburn Track.

Perhaps they would have enjoyed it as truly one of the best Great Walks if they had been prepared to go further.

– Zack Williams, email

– The article does state the reviewer walked a section of the Routeburn Track. The review was also posted in the Routeburn Track section of TripAdvisor. However, we agree we could have been clearer on the walk the reviewer did. -AH