Top Tips For Hiking In New Zealand

By on January 25, 2016

Whether you call it hiking, tramping or trekking, getting out on foot into some of the wilder parts of New Zealand will give you some amazing experiences that will stay with you for life. Generally, New Zealand is a fairly safe place to go trekking, and benefits from some excellent paths that are often well marked and well maintained. I made a few mistakes while I was out hiking on paths both in the North and the South Island, but common sense and map reading skills were absolutely vital in making sure I found myself back in the hut at the end of a day’s hike.

Don’t Underestimate The Weather

The weather is always one of the most dangerous thing that you can face inNew Zealand, and this is certainly the case when you are hiking in the mountains, where things can change quickly. On one trek in theSouth Islandwe went to sleep on a clear dry evening, and by dawn snow was piled up at the door, and the warden said the pass was closed off by the snow. The following day much of the snow had cleared, but it is important to have a back-up plan if you aren’t able to meet with your transport back to town on the agreed day.

Waterproofing Yourself And Your Kit

Another part of hiking in New Zealand that I quickly learned was that keeping my equipment dry was vital to making sure that even after a rainy day, the evening in the hut wouldn’t be miserable. Most important of all for me was to keep my camera equipment dry, and I gave this an extra layer of plastic bag covering to keep the equipment dry. You can either choose to use a large thick plastic bag within your rucksack, or use a number of plastic bags to seal everything individually. Most huts will have somewhere to dry damp and wet clothes, but make sure to keep the clothes you’ll be wearing in the evening dry!

The other aspect of waterproofing is making sure that you take a good waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers with you. Personally I’m not too keen on wearing waterproof trousers as they tend to make my legs sweat, but when it’s a choice between that and sodden cold hiking trousers then the choice is obvious.

Tips For Hiking In New Zealand

Taking The Right Equipment

Although trekking is a fun and exciting activity that will take you to some of the most interesting and beautiful places in the country, I would say it is vital to have the right kit. The national park maps may be a reasonable approximation of the hike, but I always take a real map and compass.

Another item I always make sure is in the pack is my head torch, as it isn’t just useful for avoiding knocking your knee when going to the bathroom at night. Some of the estimated times and distances on the national park guides can be a little off, and as evening drew in I found myself a couple of miles away from the final hut, and having the head torch was a reassuring presence, although I arrived minutes before I would have actually used it.

Food And Drink

When it comes to packing food, small foods that expand with water were always good for me, so dried pasta meals were perfect for me. Bread may get squashed, but it is still perfectly edible and along with a jar of Vegemite makes good sandwiches, and I would always take a box of granola bars too. Personally I quite like to cook a few sausages before the hike and then carry them with me.

Water is the most important thing of all, and because of the possibility of water-borne diseases like giardia, I would always take water purification tablets with me. As they take around thirty minutes to take effect, I would usually have one bottle in the sack being purified, with another at my hip for drinking.

Transport To And From The Hike

This is also very important, as you don’t want to reach a road end without any idea how you are going to get back to civilization. The best option I found was to use the organized services that would offer a bus ride back into a nearby town, however, when I did hitch hike I made sure there was plenty of time in case it was a slow day.

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