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October 2019 Issue
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Pigeon Post, October 2019

Photo: Fanny Leduc

Letter of the month

Two less Tararua rats

When I joined our local community pest free group (Pest Free Aotea), I made a tunnel trap from fence paling and wire that contains a mouse trap and a rat trap. I haven’t caught anything in our garden yet, but I did find success on a recent tramp.

On a trip to the historic Cone Hut in Tararua Forest Park, I took my trap with me, because in my experience ‘historic’ can also mean wonky, holey, drafty and ratty. The hut was very tidy, but definitely had a few holes and signs of rat.

Success! Two Tararua rats caught during the night.

The trap is very light and it will now be part of our regular tramping kit.

– Fanny Leduc, email

Fanny receives a Kiwi Camping Stellar Chair worth $149.99 from Readers, send your letter to for a chance to win.

1080 works, says this hunter

I found Kevin Hague’s comment on 1080 to be spot on.

Like many people, I was anti-1080 until I saw the results of it first hand. I have spent the last 20 years hunting the Clinton Valley in Fiordland National Park during the winter months when the Milford Track is closed.

DOC first dropped 1080 in 2014 and again in 2017. The results have blown me away. The return of birds is staggering. It’s a real pleasure to see such a variety of birds flying around. Every time you stop, a robin appears to catch sand flies – I’ve seen up to six at one time. Kererū, tui – you name it – are everywhere. On a good day you will see 20 or more weka.

Five years ago, the valley was so quiet that we often commented that it was a pity there were never any birds around.

I have had many a discussion with people who are anti 1080, but what I find is that very few have ever been in a valley pre- and post-1080 to see the difference. When asked why they are so anti, they always come back that they have read about it.

Whilst I am never happy with poisons of any sort being used, when you see the vastness, remoteness and topography of Fiordland, you realise that until they can come up with a better form of pest control we are stuck with 1080.

– Richard Ronald, email

Tone it down
I object to the tone of the article ‘Biker’s stymie walkers’. It implies that bikers are somehow being greedy in booking the majority of nights at Moonlight Hut on the soon to open Paparoa Track Great Walk. It’s a first come, first served booking system and if, for whatever reason, bikers are more organised and/or proactive, that shouldn’t be construed as a negative. It clearly shows that there are not enough such two or three day rides.

Mountain biking is growing exponentially and there is obviously a shortage of options compared to those available to hikers.

– Mark Perkins

Foreign hikers struggle on TAC

In late July, I walked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with a group from the Wanganui Tramping Club.

En route, in snowy conditions, we encountered three separate groups of struggling Chinese hikers who we had to assist. None of these groups had adequate winter gear – boots, crampons, ice axe, hat, gloves, goggles, PLB or the basic equipment necessary for the TAC at any time of year.

Couple A: Struggling up the slope to Red Crater with a walking pole which slipped on the ice, endangering balance.

Couple B: The male dressed in shorts, sneakers and street jacket; the female in long trousers, jacket and sneakers. Both had only small daypacks.

Couple C: Met on the downward stretch before Ketetahi. Two males, one dressed appropriately, the other in denims. They had become separated from two women in their party but when our group reconnected with them about 20 minutes later at Ketetahi toilets, they had been reunited. None of the group carried any snow gear.

I’m sure that these are not isolated incidents and if it wasn’t for our experienced trampers assisting these people, their day out could have ended with serious consequences.

It would be beneficial if a Chinese-language sign could be erected at the Mangatepopo end illustrating the items of clothing and equipment required to safely walk the TAC.

I realise that the Chinese are not the only people not being suitably dressed or equipped for the alpine conditions, but with the help of signage it would bring greater awareness of the conditions that might be encountered.

– Carolyn Shingleton, Wanganui Tramping Club

More like hypothermia
I found the articles about hypothermia in the June and July issues fascinating.

They allowed me to re-evaluate past experiences through new eyes and understand mine and others’ decisions in these situations. This will definitely make me a safer and more aware tramper.

It was also fresh in my mind when I ended up going for an involuntary 15 minute sea swim at the start of August during a big southerly. After the initial shock wore off and my extremities became less dexterous, the stages of hypothermia popped back into my head. I knew that I was in a more serious situation than I would have realised in the past, and before I had made it to the shore my mind was focused on what would become the bigger problem – getting dry in a southerly without getting cold.

This sparked me to think, if I found the hypothermia articles so useful, imagine what other skills would be great to include in future issues.

I would love to see other examples of medical issues relevant to tramping as well as more scenarios and how to cope with them.

So many times in life we only think about something when it happens.

Having a section in Wilderness that deals with a new scenario each month would expose people to these situations and hopefully result in a much better response and even preparation when it comes to wilderness incidents.

– Sam Janssens, email

– Nice idea Sam. Have you, or any of our readers, got anything in particular in mind? Drop me a line with your suggestions: