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Pigeon Post, October 2016

Ann wins this goodie bag worth $60

Letter of the month

Poles and boots for me, okay?

I am way over 30 and have a couple of diseases which create joint/tissue issues. In response to Steve August’s letter in which he advocated for saying no when things didn’t feel comfortable (‘The ability to say no’), I have some comments.

I love tramping and walking and run a small farm. I can walk for hours at a steady (not slow) speed, but I cannot walk fast for hours, or run.

Steve hit the nail on the head when he mentioned trip leaders who take off and leave everyone else behind. When I meet a trip leader who does this, I have a very unpleasant day and never go with them again. Fortunately, most trip leaders are caring and kind.

I use poles because they take a lot of joint impact. I also invariably wear boots, because they have a lot more grip.

Most people I meet are lovely, but there is an element out there who look down at, and are critical of, anybody who doesn’t do the ‘right’ thing as they perceive it. The health issues I have are not visible and I am not going to explain why I, at the back of the pack, am wearing boots and using poles when everybody else is wearing shoes.

To that small but sometimes very impatiently shrugging, vocal element: stop looking at the world from your point of view. One day you might have a few problems too.

It may take me eight minutes longer to get up the hill, but I get there unaided, poles and all, and it is a damn sight better than sitting around in front of the TV feeling sorry for myself.

– Ann Leys, email

Just go out and enjoy yourself at your own pace, Ann. We’ve got a Mother Earth Food Goodie Bag worth $60 on its way. Readers, send your letter to editor@lifestylepublishing.co.nz for a chance to win.

Pests rather than predators 

Predator N. an animal naturally preying on others.

Some New Zealand predators: Maui dolphins, tuatara, Powelliphanta snails, yellow eyed penguins, bats, peripatus, kiwi, karearea, kokopu, black robins, eels, sea lions, even, it appears, kea!

Some non-predators: possums (mostly), rabbits, hares, goats, deer, tahr, chamois, mice (mostly), koi carp.

My concern is that the September 2016 cover, editorial, Pigeon Post (‘Predator plan no gain’),Walkshorts (‘Ambitious predator plan needs stars to align’), and Wild Skills (‘Help make NZ predator free’), all lead readers to conclude: Predators = bad.

The word we need is pests, which would cover not only non-predatory animals, but also undesirable plants.

On a related note, a word of warning on the Wild Skills snare: if you are not watching it full time, you are just as likely, in some areas, to kill weka or kiwi in such a snare. Still, they are predators after all!

– Richmond Atkinson, Wellington

– We’ve decided to use the term predator because the government’s plan is to make New Zealand predator free – not pest free, which would be an entirely different, and more difficult, objective. The term predator in New Zealand commonly refers to introduced species only – mainly rats, stoats and possums. – AH

Landing rights

DOC recently refused the Southland Aero Club’s request to use the grass airstrip near Mason Bay, Stewart Island, citing the preservation of wilderness areas. A good enough reason.

The club members were understandably disappointed. But I have a suggestion to assist them through their frustration. Equip a couple of their aircraft with snow skis and apply to DOC for a concession to land on Fiordland’s Ngapunatoru Ice Plateau. That should not be a problem as DOC has recently increased the concession for helicopter landings there from 10 to 80 per day.

Obviously there is no concern for the preservation of wilderness there!

– Ray Willett, Te Anau

Quiet helicopters

I heartedly endorse the view of Wayne Clark expressed in the story ‘Then along came a helicopter’.

Over the summer of 2015/16, I spent several months walking in the South Island. My pleasure in the scenery and the atmosphere of the area was constantly disrupted by the noise of helicopters passing overhead. This was especially so at the start of the Great Walks in the Glenorchy area and the glaciers of the West Coast.

I understand that helicopters are necessary for transporting supplies to huts and removing waste materials, and that taking some trampers’ packs into huts might allow some to experience the tracks who otherwise would not be fit enough to do it.

At 67, I am one of those who no longer carries an overnight pack and is limited to day walks. Obviously my walks are not in Wilderness Areas so suggesting that those who don’t want to hear helicopters should limit their walking to these areas, as DOC’s Mike Slater suggested in the article, wouldn’t solve the problem for me.

What are possible solutions to this noise pollution? Keeping helicopters as far as possible from the popular tracks? Or is there a way of lessening the noise that a helicopter makes in the air? Perhaps some creative Kiwi could put their mind to inventing some sort of muffler?

– Pat Wright, email