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September 2020 Issue
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Pigeon Post, September 2020

Our reader of the month receives a Macpac Rapaki 22 pack worth $170 from Readers, send your letter to the editor to win.

Letter of the month

The article ‘Subscribe to outside’ confirmed for me that I’m on the right track.

I’ve started a private Facebook group called ‘Lunchtime Hikes’ for an invited list of friends and close colleagues – all women in their 40s and 50s.

When I’ve spoken about my tramping trips, where I’d been and what I’d seen and heard, various responses would usually start with ‘oh wow – I’d like to do that but…’ – insert any of the next phrases to finish the sentence: ‘I’m not fit enough’, ‘I wouldn’t be able to keep up’, ‘I don’t have the right gear’, ‘I’m not brave enough to do that’ or ‘aren’t you afraid?’

I agree with the author that ‘for every Kiwi tramper, there are two non-trampers just waiting for the opportunity to give it a go’.

I’ve now set aside the third Sunday of each month for a ‘Lunchtime Hike’. It starts at 10:30am and we’re back at the car by 2:30pm. The timeslot and format are to provide certainty and assurance for families.

My hope is that we’ll learn more about what we’re capable of while seeing the beauty in what we have in our backyard. I’ll be rapt if the confidence levels rise to the point where we all do an overnighter at Waiaua Gorge Hut or one of them joins me on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing next autumn.

Most of all, I look forward to our friendships deepening.

Thanks for your article – it’s given me a pat on the shoulder and a ‘good on you’.

-Te Aroha Hohaia

– Seriously good on you, Te Aroha. We’ve got a Macpac Rapaki 22 pack worth $170 from on it’s way to you. Readers, send your letter to to win.

River crosser did it right

I feel it is necessary to offer a counter view to the observations made by your correspondent Jules Stacey regarding Oscar van der Beck’s experience assisting a deliberately mute foreigner across a river.

In my opinion, van der Beck’s actions were extremely generous, potentially to his own peril.

We Kiwi’s have a great history of stepping up and stepping in. However, in the outdoors, I would recommend taking a cautious approach prior to ‘assisting’ strangers in situations where one has limited or no knowledge of their experience or capability. In this case, both were solo travellers who ended up travelling in lockstep for a time. However, both remained responsible for their own decisions and the outcomes of those decisions.

It might sound bloody-minded, but after a number of decades of tramping, I now refrain from ‘assisting’ hikers I come across who are obviously ill-prepared and ignorant of the demands of the outdoors, beyond indicating they should exit the area if they are not confident and competent to continue. In the worst case, how might it play out at the subsequent inquiry in the event my assistance resulted in injury or worse to the party I was assisting?

I bear responsibility for the welfare of the members of my own party. It is not my responsibility to assist others to achieve their planned destination.

– Graham Pullyn

Snoring solution

Weird as it may sound, I have found that taping my mouth with a paper tape (available at chemists for about $5 a roll) has been an easy, cheap and very effective method of overcoming snoring and especially at getting poked in the ribs at night by my wife at the slightest suggestion of a snore.

Google ‘taping the mouth to stop snoring’ to find out how it’s done.

– Lindsay Cuthbertson

Nelson Lakes predator control

I have just got back from a tramping trip to Nelson Lakes National Park and the birdlife was amazing.

Standing on the deck at Speargrass Hut at dawn, I listened to the birdsong begin with the first haunting korimako call, soon joined by riroriro and others.

On Robert Ridge, I watched a kārearea upon a crag scan the valley below for prey.

I watched a glorious sunrise at Bushline Hut listening to the birdlife wake in the forest below.

Tramping through beech forest all day, I was surrounded by titipounamu, korimako, toutouwai, miromiro – normally I would expect this level of birdsong in a predator-free sanctuary.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to St Arnaud DOC, Friends of Rotoiti and other groups for their hard mahi down south. It’s a fantastic result.

– Andrea Shepherd

The joy of outside

It’s 4am and I can’t sleep. On entering the living-room I notice the August issue lying on the couch. The Joy of Outside plastered on the cover.

The joy for me comes from the natural world – the plants, the rocks, the insects, the air scented with native flowers, the wind moving the tussocks, the beauty of the night sky and endless vistas if you sleep out. Always hiking upwards, I can photograph a tiny fern, a dryland beetle, or an ancient lichen with a resting red admiral. I can admire the girth of a mature dryland kowhai shedding hundreds of seeds on the ground.

The joy once came from the knowledge that this wilderness is safe for future generations. Other like-minded people will wander these beautiful mountain ranges – Dunstan, Pisa – and still see beauty in the fractures of the rocks and the orientation of the minerals when I am gone.

Only now I’m grieving (and not sleeping). Christchurch Airport wants this valley for money. Suddenly, the joy of outside is replaced with grief and tears.

The lepidoptera and other insects have no voice. They cannot cry out and protest. Will jet fuel kill off the almost extinct tiniest fern in the world? How many native bees will a plane full of tourists kill with each incoming flight? Can banded dotterels still nest on Mahaka Katia Reserve 1000m from the runway and in the flight path? Will anybody ever want to walk in these mountains with jet planes landing and taking off?

The ‘outside’ is never safe from money-grubbers.

– Barbara Armstrong

Footing the wilding war bill

It was good to read the article ‘War of the Wildings’ and learn of the efforts of individuals and groups who are battling these invasive plants.

I was also pleased to learn that the government is putting a large amount of money towards the eradication efforts. I have to ask, though, why the government is not insisting that it’s the forestry companies and those who plant these trees who are made responsible for the control and tidy up of the unwanted pests. Surely they’re the ones who have the resources to do so.

– Jean Hayward

A winning climb

A big thanks to Pat Barrett for his story ‘Red Hill’s a winner’. This peak was a perfect remote morning escape from Christchurch that got us back at lunchtime with plenty of time with the kids to spare. The views were as spectacular as promised and I’ve been grinning all week since climbing it.

– Tim McIntosh