Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Special Interest: Silverstream Silver Peaks 1080 Information

"The Dunedin City Council has agreed to a request from OSPRI to undertake a pest control operation using 1080 on council land in the Silver Stream catchment area.
... The 1080 application is likely to begin on or after 5 June (weather dependent)...
The Silver Stream catchment is a 3,880 hectare area which is used as a back-up treated water supply. A highly cautious approach is being taken and no drinking water will be used from the catchment while 1080 is present.
The operation is weather dependent, and will take around two weeks. The catchment and affected tracks will be closed to all users for around 15 days. After that, the reserve will re-open to the general public, but will remain closed to dogs for up to 12 months and hunting permits for the catchment will be suspended to ensure dog safety."

Here is all the information I can find on this operation, collated and linkable.
This will be updated as more information is released.

Operational Area

Original ODT article
DCC take cautious approach over 1080 drop

Operational Area with DCC-owned land in green

How do I keep my dog safe?

In the case of 1080 Poisoning, urgent care is vital. Often by the time symptoms have been noticed, it is too late. Get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Washing soda crystals are a good way to induce vomiting. If you know me in person, let me know and I'll give you some for free.

Keep Your Dog Safe PDF

Muzzles are available from the OSPRI office, 399 Moray Place, level 1 above Rabobank

Where can I walk my dog while this area is closed for access?

There are a number of places where you can walk your dog in Dunedin, including similar tracks at Mt Cargill, Bethunes Gully, Flag Staff and Nicols Creek.

From the DCC website Silverpeaks Pest Control

DCC owned dog walking areas

Mt Cargill and Bethunes Gully - Dogs On Lead

[OSPRI] will carry out a possum control operation at Mt Cargill Scenic Reserve and Bethunes Gully, starting from the 13 March 2017. These DCC reserves contain important and unique forest areas. The TBfree possum control will have much benefit for forest health and biodiversity. The possum traps will be placed raised (>70cm above the ground) from 20 – 40m from the walking tracks and can be placed on the ground >40m from the tracks (traps that are placed on the ground catch 50% more possums than when placed above ground). Feratox bags will be placed on trees >20m from tracks throughout the areas. Visitors should keep their dogs on the lead at all times.
From the MTB Otago Forums, I'm currently seeking further information.

Signal Hill was not on the council supplied list of alternative areas, but it has also had Feratox bait bags and ground possum traps laid. Signal Hill was completed on the 25th of March. The four month ‘caution period’ (Feratox was used there) finishes on July 25th.

The ground-based possum control operation at Mt Cargill and Bethunes gully is still ongoing and will be finished on the 1st June which means the caution period will go to the 1st October. During the caution period dogs should be walked on a leash in these areas.

Flagstaff - May be risky

By my very rough computer-screen measurement, the operational area is 1.5 km away from the "Flagstaff loop" many of us commonly use. This is outside of the exclusion zone for possoms, but within the exclusion zone for pigs. The other factor influencing risk factors is that there are no rivers originating in or passing through the operational area that flow into the "Flagstaff Loop" area.
UPDATE: Pigs have been sighted in this area in the past  

Nichols Creek - May be risky

"From the bridge on Leith Valley Rd that crosses Nicols Creek, the left hand track leads up to the Nicols waterfall and Swampy Ridge. On the right is the Nicols Creek/ Switchback mountain bike track. The walking and bike tracks merge at times so look and listen for other users."
From Dunedin Walking Tracks PDF

By my very rough computer-screen measurement, the operational area is just over 1.5 km away from the top of Nichols Creek/Moon Track where it joins the Swampy Ridge Track (underneath the legend in the Operational Area map). 
Some track write-ups suggest walking Nichols creek as a return trip to the waterfalls, which may be a safer, if shorter option.

For general information on where you can take your dog, see the  DCC Dog Control Bylaw Interactive Map

Non DCC owned dog walking areas (contributions welcome)

City Forests Flagstaff Creek Track

Forest entry is generally by permit only (to be applied for at least a week in advance), but walkers are welcome on the Flagstaff Creek Forest walking track at all times. The use of other City Forests' forest areas must be outside of normal forestry operational hours, i.e. during weekends, public holidays and weekdays from 6pm until dusk during the daylight saving period of the year. Forests may be closed at any time due to operations and hazardous conditions.

This area suffers from the same problems as the Flagstaff loop, in that it is very close to the operational area so safety of access would depend on the type of animals you are likely to encounter.

City Forests Wakari Creek Mountain Bike Trails

McGouns Creek track is dogs on leash only, but the Pineapple Track allows dogs off leash. Be careful as the top end of the Pineapple track connects to the Flagstaff Loop discussed above (DCC)
The Wakari Creek biking, walking, running tracks allow dogs according to the City Forests website, please let me know if you come across any signage contrary to this.

For Reference

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Trip Report: Otamatapaio Hut, and bonus feature "How not to be a Dick in the Backcountry" - Oteake Conservation Park, Canterbury

Recently I went for a short overnighter with Elmo, following the Otamatapaio River up to Otamatapaio Hut.

Note: This track shows Day 2. The small purple dot indicates the car park where I started the walk on Day 1.

I had a bit of fun trying to find out the rules regarding dog access, but luckily both stations I talked to were more than helpful.
According to the DoC brochure, the people to talk to about access are Bog Roy Station, contact phone (03) 438 9400. However, Bog Roy station have now built a 6km easement across their land from Backyards Rd, allowing vehicle access across a 4wd track to the car park at the point where Bog Roy, Otamatapaio, and Otematata Stations meet. Dogs are allowed along this easement under control or in vehicles.

I was still feeling a little under the weather recovering from a cold, so we drove to the car park. The track was quite bumpy, and there was gorse close to the track in places, so I wouldn't advise driving in if you have a low car, or are precious about your paint job. Very shortly after the car park, you come to a barbed wire gate, wired shut. I climbed over it and sent Elmo under. He's pretty good about scrambling through gaps in wires.

For 7.5km after the car park, you are crossing Otamatapaio Station Land. I'm not sure if they would allow dogs off lead, but they were more than happy with Elmo on lead. Their phone number is (03) 438 9709, for a courtesy call requesting access.

This part of the walk is grassy meadow, meeting a 4wd track that heads up into the valley. It passes an old stone hut, and what looks like a Musterer's Hut, while following the Otamatapaio River up the valley. There are a few river crossings here, don't expect to keep your feet dry!

The track quickly fades to non-existence here. However, the route is poled, and so long as you stay on the valley floor and follow the river upstream, you can't really get lost.

The ground track then becomes more visible, and you will pass a sign indicating Dog Leg Gully.

A couple of km beyond that there are a couple of gates. According to the DoC signage previously, somewhere around here is where Oteake Conservation Park begins, but there is no signage to indicate this.

After you enter Oteake Conservation Park, dogs are allowed under control, but don't have to be on leash.

Elmo exhausted himself running backwards and forwards after rabbits (never coming close to catching them), and I enjoyed a lovely wander up the valley floor to the hut.

We had afternoon tea at the hut, and then walked a little way up towards peak 1435, but we didn't make it too far as I was in my camp shoes and trying to keep my feet dry. It will be a lovely walk for another day. I pitched my tent near the hut and settled in for the night.

Around midnight, a group of hunters arrived at the hut, having driven down from the tops. They invited me in for a drink and I respectfully declined. We had a bit of conversation about where we were from and what our plans were, then I tried to get back to sleep. A short while later, the drunkest of the hunters came back out of the hut and asked if I wanted company in my tent (I didn't). He offered to cuddle my dog (Elmo wasn't keen), then tried to unzip my tent flap (I told him in no uncertain terms to piss off).

I tried to get back to sleep, but Elmo wouldn't settle. I heard whispering outside the tent, then next thing I know, the hunters put one of their dogs in the vestibule of my tent. At this point I gave up any hope I had of sleeping the rest of the night, and packed up my bag and tent. As I came out to pack up my tent one of the hunters (the sober driver) was standing outside in his sleeping bag, complaining it was far to hot in the hut as his mates had lit the fire. We chatted as I packed up, he apologised for his mates behaviour, and I got to meet his dog, who was a lovely creature.

It was 2am at this point, misty drizzle, and approximately 3m visibility. Luckily I had tracked my path via GPS on the way in, so I could follow my path out and make sure I was on the right track, there was no hope of seeing the orange track markers. Elmo seemed to enjoy the impromptu night hike. We walked until we were out of sight and sound range of the hut, and I re-pitched the tent well off the track in case the hunters decided to drive along the walking track the next morning. Back to bed and we both got a relaxing sleep-in.

The walk out was another beautiful blue sky day, with a few fluffy clouds. Elmo chased some more rabbits, and I splashed my wet boots through some more river crossings

Where the track turns off to the new Bog Roy Station Easement and car park, the turn off is not marked and exceedingly hard to spot.

If you reach this bridge, you've gone too far.

We walked past the car park and followed the 4wd track out to Backyards Rd, and got picked up from there. Cell phone coverage should return around 1km from Backyards Rd, but it pays to check on your way in.

How not to be a Dick in the Backcountry

1) Respect other people's property. Messing with somebody else's tent is really uncool.
2) As with everything in life, no means no! Do not climb into somebodies tent or bunk without permission.
3) Following on from 2, if somebody nearby is trying to get some sleep, try to be considerate.
4) Keep your dogs under control. We are lucky to be able to take our dogs into conservation areas, so don't let them be disruptive or destructive.
4) Maybe, in the middle of summer, the hut fire doesn't need to be lit. Just a suggestion...

Local DOC Office

Kā Moana Haehae / Alexandra Office
Phone: +64 3 440 2040
Address: 43 Dunstan Road

Alexandra 9320

Te Manahuna / Twizel OfficePhone:  +64 3 435 0802
Address: Wairepo Rd, Twizel 7901

Pest Control Operations

DOC Land
Bog Roy Station +64 3 438 9400
Otamatapaio Station +64 3 438 9709

Closest Vet

Veterinary Centre Omarama
13 Chain Hills Highway, Omarama
Phone: (03) 438 9868

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 8.30am – 5.00pm. 
Out of hours calls with be transferred to Oamaru clinic.

Further Information

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Trip Report: Mavora Lake to Forks Hut - Southland

One sunny weekend in November, Elmo and I set out to explore a section of the Mavora Lakes Conservation Park. Poor Winston is recovering from an injury, so he stayed home. There is very little in the way of poison operations planned for this area this summer, so hopefully this will be the first of many trips. I talked to the DoC office in September. Dogs are allowed up to Forks Hut without a permit, and to Taipo Hut but not beyond, outside of lambing season.

We also took the opportunity to test out Elmo's new backpack, and Sunday Pets freeze dried food, more on these in separate posts.

It was an early start on Saturday as Elmo woke up with the sun, and we were walking by 7.30am and admiring the mist in the valley. The first part of the track is following a four wheel drive track through bush, which soon opens up to tussock land. The NZ Herald ran an article recently complaining about the state of the tracks, and the damage done by 4WD vehicles, and I certainly saw many signs of that.

Two and a half hours of easy walking later (I'm a bit slow) we came across Careys Hut, and had morning tea there, while chatting to a lovely couple from Wanaka who had come down for a weekend of fishing

After Carey Hut the track quickly rose from the lake level to give beautiful views of the head of the lake, and plenty of time to look down and plan a route across the upcoming rivers, the Mararoa River and Windon Burn.

The river crossings were wide and smooth, both about knee deep at the time of crossing (my knees, not Elmo's!). This was the first time Elmo had done river crossings of any significant width, and he tucked himself in on my downstream side the whole way across. He's not silly!!

An hour after leaving Careys Hut we were safely across both rivers. From here an unmaintained 4WD track follows the true right of the Windon Burn, This track is boggy in places, and underwater in others, and we both ended up doing a lot of walking through tussock to avoid bogs. Elmo loved this bit, apparently I should do it more often! This did however slow our progress. By this time the mist had well and truly burnt off and we were getting quite hot! I was very grateful for Elmo's extra water bladders.

We reached Forks Hut at around 2pm, after a stop for lunch, and a couple of smaller river crossings. Although smaller, they were also deeper and had more large rocks, making them more arkward than the ones earlier in the day. We had a look around the hut and signed the hut book, then headed back down the valley.

The return trip to the confluence of the Windon Burn and Mararoa River took around three hours, so I decided to pitch the tent near here for the night. Once across the rivers, there weren't really any more good campsites until very near Careys Hut.

Elmo was exhaused, and lay on his side the entire time it took me to pitch the tent and set up camp, only moving when I called him for dinner, after which he proceeded to curl up on my sleeping bag and resume his nap. Unfortunately my camera battery was dead by this stage so i didn't get any photos of the campsite or return trip.

Sunday morning allowed a bit of a sleep in, followed by the two river crossings, and an easy walk back to Careys hut for morning tea. The fishing couple from Wanaka had gone by this stage, although I was passed by three off-road trail bikes heading back towards Mavora Campsite, presumably having come out from Boundary Hut.

From here it was a short wander back to the campsite, and then the long drive home.

Local DOC Office

Murihiku / Invercargill Office
Phone:  +64 3 211 2400
7th Floor
CUE on Don
33 Don Street
Invercargill 9810

Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:  +64 3 249 7924
Fiordland National Park
Visitor Centre
Lakefront Drive
Te Anau 9600

I have to make a mention of Karin Dougherty particularly as being extremely helpful when I emailed to confirm what areas dogs are allowed in.

Pest Control Operations

DOC Land

Closest Vet

Northern Southland Vets
Te Anau Clinic
133 Govan Drive
Te Anau, New Zealand
Phone: 03 249 7039
Open Hours: Monday to Friday - 8.30am - 5pm (24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year emergency service)

Further Information

Mavora Lakes Campsite
Mavora Lakes Park PDF (note that the information on where dogs are allowed here is slightly different to what the DoC office told me, When in doubt I prefer to go with the most up-to-date information)
Snowden Forest and Mavora Dog Access Area Map

Friday, 3 July 2015

Gear Review: K9 Natural Freeze Dried Raw Food

How to Choose a Dog Food

There are many things to consider when choosing the best dog food for your dog. The quality of the ingredients, how the food needs to be stored, and cost all impact the decision. The choice is not made any easier by looking at the various types of dog food out there - kibbles, wet foods, raw foods, or home-made diet options abound.

I am not qualified to talk about the "best" dog food for any particular dog. Sites like Dog Food Advisor have already been set up to cover this in detail. Your vet may also be a good source of advice. Instead, I will be talking about how this dog food performs specifically for a camping situation.

When selecting a dog food for tramping trips I consider the factors listed above, as well as the foods density (how much space does 100g of food take up), and its calorie content (how many Calories per cup or per kg). This also makes price comparisons between foods easier, as you can consider the price of each food on a calorific basis. Have you ever heard people say that more expensive dog foods are better value because you feed less? It's true - sometimes.

Calories are important when travelling. All dogs, even if they merely follow in their humans footsteps, will burn more energy while walking all day, and camping at night. As well as increased exercise (except for perhaps some working dogs) they will also expend more energy keeping warm. You can expect your dogs calorific requirements to go up by 25-50% depending on where you are going and how much exercise your dog gets on a daily basis. We usually increase calories by 25%.

Another consideration is choosing a food that your dog can adjust to easily. Sometimes changing a food can produce loose stools, which is exactly what you DON'T want to be dealing with away from home. For this reason I suggest testing out a food before you travel with it. Most pet food companies will send you a sample sized pack to try free of charge, but if you have a larger dog it may only be 1-2 meals worth.

K9 Natural Freeze Dried Dog Food

Freeze dried K9 Natural has been a staple for us for tramping trips for a while now. It is made in New Zealand, consisting mainly of meat products with a little fruits and vegetables, and green lipped mussels. We use the Beef or Lamb flavours because they have a higher calorie content than the rest of the range (Beef - 4792 Kcal/kg, 76Kcal/dollar and Lamb - 4713 Kcal/kg, 75Kcal/dollar). For the rest of the review I will be focusing on the Lamb flavour, because that's what I had in my cupboard for photos, although the two flavours are very similar in calorie content and density.

K9 Natural requires rehydration before it is eaten, this is a bit of a hassle with more than one dog, as we usually only take one dog bowl for both dogs food and water. Although, the rehydration requirement comes in handy when you can add extra water to rehydrate your dog, without having to carry extra "bait" to encourage your dog to drink.

Both dogs are keen to eat it up, and the bowls are licked clean afterwards. There is very little 'waste', which indicates this is a good quality food with few fillers, and less volume of this makes it easier to pack out if required.

Here is what it looks like straight out of the bag.

100g of Freeze Dried K9 Natural. This is a Glad Snack sized bag. Pen for scale.

After rehydration. Unlike freeze dried food for people, K9 Natural doesn't change shape or size upon rehydration.

K9 Natural suggest that you can switch to their dog food by "Simply [not feeding] your dog for a 12 hour period then start feeding solely K9 Natural." although I would test this before you get out in the bush. You can also switch more gradually, by feeding more K9 Natural at each meal and decreasing the amount of your dogs regular food over 7-10 days until the dog is eating purely K9 Natural, although this is less practical for tramping.

To get the legal stuff out of the way: I am not paid to write this, I gain no benefit from lying about how good a product is. Some of these pet food suppliers might have sent me free samples, but I will always disclose this (K9 Natural didn't). If they sent me free samples, they will probably send them to you too, just ask!
All prices are from the K9 Natural website

Friday, 22 May 2015

How to Find and Read a Pesticide Summary

The pesticide summaries for all regions of New Zealand can be found here on the DOC website. These pesticide summaries do not include details on herbicides for control of plants, or pesticides for rodent control in huts or buildings. If you have any concerns always contact the DOC office for the area you are planning to tramp in.

The pesticide summary can look quite intimidating at first glance, but it is divided into two main parts:
  •          Areas where pesticides have been laid upon lands administered by the Department of Conservation
  •          Areas where pesticides will be laid upon lands administered by the Department of Conservation over the next four months.

Be careful to check the dates you are travelling to see whether any operations are due to start before you arrive.

Below is an example of a section of a pesticide summary. This shows ES 34. This can be cross-referenced with the detailed maps to show a TB Free NZ Possum Control Block in the Muangatuas.

Detailed maps of an area are also available from the area pesticide summaries page.

Example of a detailed map. This shows ES 34, which can be cross referenced on the Pesticide Summary document to determine which pesticides are being used in this area (see above).

In this case there are four different pesticide application methods, of two different poisons. The stated date of application is from the 7th April 2014-30th November 2014, so take adequate precautions from the 7th of April 2014 onwards. The area will be monitored for bait and carcasses to determine if pesticide residues are still present.

In this example, the cyanide in the environment will be expected to have disappeared by the end of March 2015 (4 months after 30 November 2014), and the 1080 will be expected to have disappeared by the end of July 2015 (8 months after 30 November 2014). This period may be longer if the weather has been cold and dry, and shorter if the weather has been warm and wet. Once it is established that the any remaining bait, and carcasses have decomposed, then the warning signs will be removed (for more information on the criteria used to determine when an area is clear, see here).

Once the warning signs are removed, the area is again safe for you and your dog. Some people will choose to go tramping before signs are removed using muzzles to prevent dogs eating poisoned carcasses, but I do not recommend this.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

How to apply for a DOC Dog Access Permit

Frequently when looking for areas to take your dog tramping, you will come across areas where dogs are allowed by permit only. This was traditionally only for hunting dogs, but now anybody who wants to take their dog into the backcountry can request a Dog Access Permit.

Permits must be obtained from the DOC office responsible for the area you want to visit, you can't walk into a DOC office in Christchurch to get a permit for your next visit to Marlborough, for example. All the tracks on this website will include details of the relevant DOC office for each walk where a permit may be required. Permits can be applied for via phone or email, as well as in person.
A selection of council tags
To issue a permit, the DOC office will need to know your name, address, phone number, and details of your dog ie breed, colour, name, and sex. They will also want to know that your dog is registered with the relevant local authority. Some offices may ask for your dogs registration number (the one on the dogs council tag).

The permits are free, and will often be produced for you on the spot, or posted or emailed out if you have applied via email or phone.

Below is a sample email requesting a permit.

I/We will be in [region] shortly walking the [track], and I saw on the DOC website that dogs are allowed in this area by permit only.
Could we please have a permit to take dogs in this area?
My address is
[phone number]
I/We have [number of dogs] dog/s. [Dog name] is a [colour] [breed] [sex] and his/her council registration number is [council] [number] (repeat for any multiple dogs

Thank you
From [full name]

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Trip Report: Flagstaff to Green Hut Site - Silver Peaks

Over the Christmas Holidays, we headed out for a short overnighter around the hills near Dunedin.

This walk could be done as a long day walk, but there is something special about sleeping in the outdoors. It can be done as a return trip, leaving a car at the Bull Ring Car Park on Flagstaff-Whare Flat Rd, or as a through trip starting from either the Bull Ring Car Park or Semple Rd. We walked it as a return trip, and it took approximately 5 hours 30 minutes each way, including stops.

This was an easy tramp, with gravel track for at least half the walk, with some mud and swamp. The track is well-marked the whole way. However, the weather is very changeable so always travel prepared. There is reasonable cellphone reception along most of the track.

The track starts in the Dunedin City Council Flagstaff Scenic Reserve (dogs allowed), and moves into The Silverpeaks Scenic Reserve, administered by DOC (dogs by permit only).

View Larger Topographic Map

The track starts out following a wide dirt (mud) track heading up Flagstaff. This track is called the Firebreak Track because it was originally used as a fire break. After a short period of walking you will see an old fire fighting reservoir on the left.
The track branches off to the left and heads down the hill, before coming to the intersection with the Pineapple Track. If you choose to explore the Pineapple Track, your dog must be on lead.

Continue to the left along the Swampy Ridge Track. This track follows a clear path through tussock, travelling over several hills and valleys, each one steeper than the one before. Finally the track emerges onto Rollinsons Rd. This is an easy stroll past various buildings and electronic equipment. Follow the road straight to the end, where a small building provides a nice wind-break to eat lunch.

Past this building, the track moves into The Silverpeaks Scenic Reserve. The track stays in this reserve for the rest of the journey.

Follow the Swampy Ridge Route down a tussocky hill and into a short stretch of bush meadow (complete with the bog underfoot that gives Swampy Summit its name), then through native bush to the intersection with the path to Semple Rd and Mountain Track Rd. This is a lovely spot to stop for a breather, and if you're into geocaching....

The last portion of the track is a gently undulating climb to Green Hill, where Green Hut used to be located. It has since been removed due to constant vandalism, but a flat spot remains for camping. There is no toilet, and no easily accessible water supply, so carrying water in is well worth the effort, and make sure to bury any dog or human waste well off the track.

The return walk is by the same route, although the hill to Rollinsons Rd seems a lot steeper from this side!

Local DOC Office

Ōtepoti / Dunedin Office
Phone: +64 3 477 0677
Fax: +64 3 474 7090
Address: 77 Lower Stuart Street
Conservation House

Postal Address: PO Box 5244
Moray Place
Dunedin 9058

Pest Control Operations

The DCC is currently compiling a list of current pest control operations for their website. In the meantime, if you would like to know if any pest control operations are planned at a particular reserve, you can contact the DCC Parks officer directly.

Closest Vet

44 Rankeilor Street
Dunedin South, New Zealand, 9012
Phone: (03) 456 2345 (24 hours/7 days)

Further Information