opinion piece by fishing guide Chris Dore first published on Sexyloops,
12 Jan 2008
There are very few rivers in New Zealand which
require heli use ...and there is something special about packing
up the gear and 'going bush' for several days, the build up being
the long walk in, tent and cookers clanging in the pack and the
mates' comradere whilst you bush bash up mountains and down gullys.
The reality is, the most heavily choppered rivers
here usually have good walking access. A few hours beating the feet
will get you into the mid Greenstone, and if you wish to add another
few you can reach the upper river! An hour's walk will get you into
good water on the Young, Caples and Hunter and yet these waters
recieve almost daily heli useage. Why?
To me, going backcountry means feeling the legs
at the day's end and the walk is as much of the experience as the
One often heard argument is that "we only
have one day". Well tough! Fish a more accessible river, otherwise
put aside an extra day or two to give the river the respect it deserves
- We don't call it wilderness due to its proximity to the local
cafe now do we? Is bungi jumping or Milford sound really that important?
Don't make 6pm dinner reservations if you want to fish the backcountry.
This is just Tryhard!
So what is the solutiion? Less landing permits?
More designated winderness zones?
Policing such initiatives can be tough and there
are always people who will abuse regulation. Just look at the Upper
Oreti no fly zone - could there be an easier place to walk into?
Suggestions for ensuing good relations between
heli-fishers and walk-in anglers
So what to do if you choose to fly in?
Ensure you buzz the carpark or road end on the
way in so you know potentially where people may be.
Buzz the valley downstream of where you plan
to land as well as huts etc to ensure there are no others already
on the river or on their way in... If I walk 4 hours in and someone
lands above me you can bet there will be a confrontation! Make sure
you aren't jumping someone who has put in the effort you haven't
and has walked in with an often heavy pack! These detours may cut
into your allocated time by 10 mins or so, or throw an extra $100
onto your chopper bill, but you are taking a shortcut to the backcountry
- accept it!
And the rest of us walking in can play our part
too! I've heard horror stories from conscientious friends using
choppers who have had anglers on the river try and hide when the
chopper has flown past, only to emerge to confront them once landed
and the chopper has departed.
If you are walking into the wilderness, wear
a bright pack and make yourself visible. Carry a bright piece of
material you can wave at any passing choppers and once your presence
is known, most pilots will leave you ample water for a days fishing.
[Note: This may not be a good idea since they may think you
are in trouble and try to rescue you].
Helicopters are not ideal, but they are here
and are in common use. Maybe once Rudi, Clarke and the crew sort
out NZ's public access issues they can move onto the heli situation
on easily accessible waters!!