Where can I take my dog?

May 29


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How to avoid the pound when you hike with your hound.

 

THE WORDS “DOG” AND “WALK” GO TOGETHER LIKE “BARK” AND “BITE”, SO IT’S PRETTY FRUSTRATING TO ARRIVE AT A TRACK WITH YOUR BEST MATE, ONLY TO REALISE YOUR MUTT IS NOT PERMITTED. A SIGN ANNOUNCING THAT IT IS LAMBING SEASON, OR THAT THERE’S BEEN A RECENT PESTICIDE DROP, CAN LEAVE A DOG OWNER KICKING DIRT.

In a perfect pooch-aware world, there would be a one-stop-shop with an interactive
map, filters such a “walks without permits”, “pesticide warnings” or “off-leash tramps”, and a section where dog owners could leave comments, reviews and advice. Alas, such a thing does not yet exist in New Zealand. There are, however, several helpful resources that, when used in conjunction with each other, will help you and the hound enjoy a range of walks and stay out of the dog box.

“there are almost 600,000 registered dog owners in Aotearoa”

FIND FELLOW FANG FANS ON FACEBOOK
According to the Department of Internal Affairs, there are almost 600,000 registered dog owners in Aotearoa. More than 14,700 of them are a part of a Facebook group called ‘Hiking with Dogs New Zealand’, and if you are looking for quick answers or suggestions, a post in this group will have a slew of passionate, dog-owning, hiking enthusiasts flocking to help in no time. Scrolling through the group’s archive is also a great way to find suggestions for tramps and walks across the country, not to mention more obscure tips like the best place to source a lifejacket for your pup.

DOG-FRIENDLY DOC WALKS

Another useful resource is the Department of Conservation’s website (www.doc.govt.nz). Under the ‘Walking and Tramping’ section, there’s an interactive map that allows you to add ‘Dogs Allowed’ to the filter, before you search by region. This tool will help you navigate DOC’s 305 dog-friendly walks. There’s Paines Ford Tramline Track near Nelson, with its multiple swimming holes on the Takaka River; Southland’s historic Long Hilly (Round Hill) Walking Track, the site of what was the largest Chinese gold mining settlements in New Zealand; and the gnarly, experts-only Stafford Bay Route south of Haast (one of 23 ‘Dogs Allowed’ listings on the pro-pooch West Coast).

If a dog permit is required, this is clearly stated at the top of the tramp’s description. We spoke with a DOC employee regarding the occasional mismatch between what a sign at the trailhead says versus the information on the website – the inside word is that the most up-to-date information is online.

“A sign announcing that it is lambing season … can leave a dog owner kicking dirt”

KEEP YOUR PUG SAFE FROM POISONS

There’s also a ‘Pesticide Summaries’ map on the DOC website. This is essential for anyone looking to get out and about with a dog. Bookmark it. In New Zealand, poisons such as 1080, brodifacoum and PAPP (para-aminopropiophenone) are used to kill introduced predators like rats, stoats and possums, and you don’t want Fido anywhere near the stuff.

If DOC has deployed pesticides, there should be signs up, but this map saves you the headache of a surprise. Again, it’s an interactive map, allowing you to add and remove filters such as, ‘National Park’, ‘Region’, ‘Pesticides soon to be laid’ and ‘Pesticides have been laid’. Unfortunately, DOC’s dog-friendly walks map cannot be overlayed with the pesticide map yet, so you’ll need to do some manual cross-referencing.

READ A DOG BLOG

Not all hikes and tramps in New Zealand are DOC-managed. The website And the Dog Came Too (andthedogcametoo.weebly.com), lists 520 dog walks throughout Aotearoa. That’s an extra 215 non- DOC tracks. You can take pooch to the dog-walking Mecca that is Christchurch’s Bottle Lake Forest Park, rated 5 out of 5 bones by one canine critic on BringFido (bringfido.com), an online resource dedicated to pet-friendly travel. Or play together for hours in Naseby Forest, which has more than 20 kilometres of biking and walking tracks, all of it off-leash-friendly.

The site, which is more of a blog run by a passionate dog owner, has some quirks. The maps are not interactive, and some of the walks are merely listed with no description. Where trails are described, however, the listings are super useful due to the detailed dog-specific information, such as advice about water access, rules about leads, and whether or not a track is shared (with cyclists, for example). And the Dog Came Too does come with a caveat – due to the number of listings, the team can’t get back to every one of the walks every year, so they do ask users to “look out for new signs that tell you if dogs are no longer welcome.”

D O W N L O A D A Y A P – H A P P Y A P P

There are apps that come with dog-friendly filters such as AllTrails, Plan My Walk and Dog Pack, though none of them have the pertinent permit, pesticide, or the full range of dog-specific information most hikers are seeking. Plus, all the above are missing known dog walks, which insinuates a lack of reliability. They can be useful, but here’s hoping they become more comprehensive in the future.

For now, we are left toggling through various sites, with DOC and Facebook being the most helpful. If in doubt, google “5 Best Dog Walks Near Me” or perhaps ask Siri. While you’re at it, say “Siri, bark like a dog for me”. If you’ve updated to iOS 14.3, Siri will do it.

KELSEY PORTER


This article is even better in print.


1964: mountain culture / aotearoa is a reader-supported magazine that explores Aotearoa New Zealand’s remote places and the people who seek them out. Working with more than thirty artists, photographers, writers, woodworkers and welders, we advocate for and support Aotearoa’s creatives.

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