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August 2021 Issue
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Tramping with a toddler

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Letter of the month

Tramping with a toddler 

After reading the amazing achievement of the Gerlach family ‘Holding on to trail life’, I felt motivated to share our recent experience of completing our first overnight hike with two children aged seven months and 30 months. 

I’ve read tips on how to successfully tramp with babies and school-age children; but is there a 101 on the art of an overnight hike with a toddler?

Here is what we learnt:

  • Compartmentalise your daily toddler snacks into snack pouches for each day. Having a snack pouch handy in my pack’s waist pocket made for a quickly accessible distraction when tramping to Te Rereatukahia Hut.
  • Sometimes a cracker with cheese doesn’t quite cut the mustard. That’s when bribery with a once-daily ‘sweet treat’ gets you over that steep climb.
  • When our tummies are full we turned to ‘Where’s Wally’, spotting the next orange DOC triangle (works for motivating the adults, too!).
  • Songs were our next go-to. But there are only so many humps that ‘Alice the Camel’ can have before that runs dry…or rather we run out of puff getting over our own hump in the track.
  • When all else fails, we turned to storytelling. Recounting our pre-children hiking and camping adventures with a bit of embellishment to inspire our wee ones into developing their own sense of adventure.

We’re now busy planning our next overnighter in the East Cape. 

– Thomas Chin

– Good work Thomas – do any other readers have advice to share? A Leatherman Wingman worth $139.99 from is on its way. Readers, send your letter to the editor for a chance to win.

Boots not what they used to be

Back in the 60s, when my life revolved around tramping, we would buy a pair of ‘John Bull’ boots, or similar, and they would last for years and years. The soles were heavy-duty, sewn and screwed onto the boots. Then we’d whack some ‘tricounis’ into the insteps so we didn’t slip on greasy tree roots. Admittedly, the boots were exceedingly heavy but, boy, they could sure take the punishment!

Every time I read anything about boot maintenance in Wilderness, it is suggested that a leather wax or conditioner is rubbed into the leather so that the boots will last. I contend that this is a complete waste of time with modern boots as the soles will inevitably come adrift way before the leather packs up. My latest pair has lasted about 20 months of not very frequent tramping – maybe 50 walking days. A selling point was the rubber lugs protruding around the perimeter of the soles to give more grip. Unfortunately, the lugs are all now pulling off. My previous pair of boots lasted maybe 60 or 70 days of tramping before the soles came off halfway through walking the Old Ghost Road! Spare laces and strapping tape saved the day.

I think this is pathetic but, unfortunately, it seems to now be the norm in our throw-away society. Meanwhile, I have to start another search for some extra wide boots which won’t fall apart in short order.

– River Howe

Bellbirds thriving at Tawharanui

Bellbirds, or korimako, are resident north of Hamilton – and spreading, contrary to the story in the Wilderness Daily newsletter on June 28.

In 2005, korimako re-established naturally at the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary, flying in from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island after a predator-proof fence was completed at Tawharanui Regional Park. Clever little birds!

Since then, the population has increased so much that there are translocations to other secure locations.

As well, korimako are now prevalent at nearby locations: Baddeleys Beach and Buckleton Beach. They are regularly heard at Omaha and Point Wells.

Tawharanui Regional Park is open to the public and is a pleasure to visit. The forest and wetland restoration and re-introduction of threatened species shows what can be achieved with the involvement of local people guided by experienced Auckland Council conservation staff and other experts.

The very active volunteer organisation is the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society. An added benefit to the community is the joy and sense of belonging it provides to many who can choose activities to suit their capabilities.

– Jill Stone

Responses to our stories on our Facebook page

Great Walks could turn a profit
When did DOC become a business, and when did Kiwis vote to have the Great Walks run at a profit? – Peter Wilson

The fun business of hut bagging
There was a chap 20 or 30 years ago who would visit all the huts. We called him Hieroglyphics Man as he would sign the hut books with symbols. I met him a few times and I think he was eastern European. Don’t know what became of him but there were plenty of rumours that kept us all amused. – Jim Herdman

Seizing the day
I loved this article! Val is such an inspiration, I certainly hope I will still be climbing hills at 86. – Kate Malcolm

New DOC land created in Mackenzie Country
Love the Mackenzie Country, now if they just would stop irrigating it and leave it in its natural state. – Daniel Sue