Independent Hiking in New Zealand
Independent hiking, tramping or walking is a very popular activity in New Zealand; something you need to consider if you are planning an overnight hike.
Throughout the New Zealand summer (December – February) and school holidays, many top tracks – especially Great Walks like the Heaphy Track, Routeburn Track, Milford Track and Abel Tasman Coastal Track – are in high demand, so it pays to book hut accommodation well in advance.
- Take a GPS; we know the old-schoolers scoff, but it’s such a great thing to have. Taking paper maps for tricky areas is also a good idea.
- Hikers wool is great for preventing blisters but if that fails, ‘Compeed’ are brilliant plasters and allow you to keep hiking (pain free) while they heal
- Don’t run out of DEET in Fiordland! ‘Goodbye Sandfly’ is a great natural alternative to the yucky chemical stuff and actually soothes bites as well
- Powdered coconut milk is great for adding calories and flavor to 2 minute noodles (as is peanut butter: think satay)
- Hazelnut whittakers has the most calories, and yes you’ll want the one with the most!
- Museli bars are crap for keeping you going: scroggin rules but make your own (with chocie bits, yum)
- Add dry fruit to your porridge to make it go further
- I used to think they were only for old people, but do take hiking poles; not only will they save your hips and knees, they are good places for storing duct tape (which has all kinds of uses), they could be used as splints or crutches if you get injured and they are also great for chasing scary dogs on the back roads. Just ignore the locals in Colac Bay when they hoot with laughter and say, “nice sticks, bro”. Meanies.
- Tent footprint is vital. We used a survival bag, which we cut to make smaller.
- Down jackets make great pillows.
- Think long and hard before you pack that mammoth camera.
- If you send yourself food drops, don’t choose scented toilet paper (it was cheap, OK!) All the food in our boxes smelled quite perfumey!
- Cheap crocs from the warehouse make great hut shoes and they are really light weight. Unfortunately, they are not much of a fashion statement with socks underneath.
- Having more than one change of clothes per week is overrated.
- Buy insoles for your hiking boots, we went through three sets.
- Pack ear plugs (this is Dave’s tip- think he’s trying to tell me something?!) You’ll be glad you did when there’s a snorer in the hut. The ones that mould like putty are good.
- Take spare laces for your boots. We use spare laces to tie up our roll mats, until we need them for our boots.
- Take a pack of sticky gortex, which is great for patching up holes in pack covers and waterproofs, and on a trip like ours, you will get holes in your gear.
- Take spare torch batteries.
- Double bag everything to keep it dry; we just used plastic bags.
- Steripens are great; it’s bad for you to use iodine tablets for an extended length of time and we used the steripen a lot because a lot of the rivers we drank from ran through farm land (we saw a dead cow near one).
- When we stopped using ‘Daktarin’ foot powder, we got athletes foot (doh), so if you are doing a long hiking trip, use this powder, it’ll keep the fungi at bay!
- Waterproof pack covers are a must, for obvious reasons. Pack liners inside the packs are great for the same reason; we used ‘Sea to Summit ultrasil’ packliners, as they were really light.
- Take heed of what other trampers say about the tracks; if they say a track is ‘overgrown’, you’ll have a fight on your hands!