Letter of the monthProtect unspoilt wilderness I was delighted to read the article ‘Seeing the benefits of a widlerness unseen’ (July, 2014) by Paul Quinlan in which he spoke out against the proposed Haast-Hollyford Highway. With friends Phil Houghton and Mike Gill I tramped the Hollyford, Pyke, Forgotten, Barrier and Kaipo valleys in the 1950s and helped explore and map the Skippers mountains and visited Cleft Creek. I have visited the Hollyford area a number of times since, the last being in 2013. Fiordland National Park should remain untouched as a World Heritage Park and I applaud Nick Smith in his decision to cancel both the monorail and the tunnel to Milford. Apart from our wonderful national parks and wilderness areas, New Zealand has little to offer the rest of the world. We are a small, isolated country but visitors from afar choose to visit just to see our unspoilt wilderness. We must be custodians for future generations and not follow the rest of the world by desecrating these areas with roads, motels and fast food outlets. - John Kent, Christchurch A shocking idea I am totally shocked by Stephen Conn (‘Alone, totally', Pigeon Post, April 2014). I agree with him that being alone in the mountains can be a special experience. But I cannot agree that the experience of going alone into the wilderness can be enhanced by not telling anyone where you are heading. This is a crazy idea for three reasons:
- A broken ankle or leg totally disables even the hardiest tramper. Any river or slippery rock in a remote gully could become a death trap. With no prospect of being rescued, it will be a slow and painful end.
- You’d get a short terse reply from any park ranger or LandSAR member on this idea. Every year, untold hours are wasted by searchers combing rough bush and steep mountainsides looking for lost trampers.
- It breaks a fundamental rule of bush craft. Anyone going into the wilderness must always leave plans of their trip with someone who can raise the alarm if they don’t come back.
- The online booking system needs to force the user to individually tick a series of statements/questions that provide specific information on likely off-season conditions
- Ages and country information are already collected – the website should automatically alert DOC to parties consisting only of people who are likely to be inexperienced, and these parties should be personally called by DOC to elicit further information and provide advice as deemed necessary.
- Most importantly, perhaps the marketing people need to look more carefully at their target market and the language used on its website. Are these tracks in fact ‘great walks’ in the normal usage of those words, or does the Great Walks brand lead to real-world confusion?