BASIC HELP WITH NZ TRAMPING
Trips are heaps of fun, but there are a few things that you should know before you go. Below you can find a basic guide to tramping (hiking) in NZ.
Planning a trip isn't easy. What do I need to pack? Where am I going? Who is going with me? What do I do if things go wrong? These are important questions to ask before you get out and about. Below is a guide to help you with those hard to answer questions, but it is by no means exhaustive. If you are still left with questions talk to your peers, or better yet get in touch with an experienced club member. They can usually be found lurking around the Bog at 6:30pm waiting for the free chips at Happy Hour.
Basic Trip guide
1. Planning essentials
Planning is required for any trip to be successful. Even the best of locations can be spoiled by 3 nights of only eating cold Pam's dehydrated peas because you forgot to pack the dinners and the gas. Therefore the first planning essentials to remember is to plan! Helpful, I know.
Need help planning your trip? Just follow this guide from the Mountain Safety Council.
2. Route planning
It is essential that you investigate where you are planning to go and the alternative routes available to you, should you need it. This is especially important in NZ as conditions can change rapidly.
Struggling for ideas of places to go? Club members have a wealth of knowledge to share if you only ask them. Most are itching for an opportunity to tell you how they almost died. The best place to find club members is at 6pm Tuesday down at Happy Hour in the Bog. The DoC website is also a good tool to find places to go, as is the track finder on NZ Tramper.
It is important that you carry a map with you on your trip and you know how to use it (see video below). Maps are available for hire from OUTC. Alternatively, they can be downloaded from the LINZ website, or you can use the “print screen” function and crop from the topo maps website is highly recommend
It is extremely important that as trip leader you monitor the weather. Weather in NZ changes rapidly which can put you in danger if you are not prepared. It is especially important if you plan to cross any exposed ground, climb above the bushline or cross any rivers.
The most widely used Weather website in NZ is Metservice. Alongside forecasts for major towns and cities, they provide forecasts for the national parks. Additionally the rain radar can provide a good indication if you're going to get wet.
If you are planning a trip around snow it is important that you check the avalanche forecast.
4. Gear & Equipment
Unless you are keen on Naturgefühl it is important that you make sure you have all the correct gear. Even if the weather forecast is for sunny days it is essential that you pack warm clothes. We have a saying in NZ, 'Cotton is rotten'. This is because once it gets wet it loses its insulating ability making it useless. So no jeans. Instead pack clothes made of wool or synthetic materials such as polypropylene. Another important consideration is waterproofing on your pack, a topic discussed below:
Use this gearlist as a guide for what to pack:
No personal gear is available to be borrowed from OUTC. Some can be rented from Unipol.
For every trip, you will need a few big things:
A pack, 60 litres or more.
A good, warm sleeping bag. Should be at least three seasons, especially if you are tramping in winter. Both synthetic and down are satisfactory
A waterproof jacket. Not showerproof. Waterproof and breathable fabrics are ideal, PVC is great as long as the seams are sealed
Good boots, the sort that give ankle support. Doc Martens aren’t boots. Ask your trip leader if you are unsure about whether your footwear will be appropriate
You’ll need warm clothes:
Skin tight polypropylene or woollen thermals. Upper and lower layers essential, for sandfly protection if nothing else. Take at least one pair, preferably, and in some cases crucially, two pairs.
One or two thin tops of fleece or wool, to wear around the campsite and possibly on the move
A thick warm jersey, bush shirt, swanndri, or down jacket. To wear around the campsite
A beanie. Always.
Good thick woollen or polyprop socks, to keep your feet comfortable and help stop blisters, and a spare pair for camp
Nylon shorts, no cotton. Something that will dry quickly, like stubbies, togs, or board shorts
Smaller essential things:
Waterproof pack liner
Mug, bowl, and spoon
Head torch and spare batteries
Water bottle, 1L or more
A sunhat, the bigger the brim the better. Not necessary for low level bush trips, but essential for any trip on the tops in good conditions
Sunscreen. Same as above
Wraparound sunglasses. For snow travel in good weather
Gloves or mittens. For winter trips, and anything with snow
Thermarest or bed roll. For trips without a hut
Gaiters. Come into their own off-track and especially on snow
Overtrousers. Great in exposed conditions, and for sun protection on snow.
Not strictly necessary, but useful:
Information on hiring gear from the club can be found on the Gear Hire page.
5. Food, glorious food
By far the most important element of any tramp. Tramping food needs to be long lasting and high in energy. People commonly take things like salami, crackers, hummus, nuts, chocolate, peanut butter etc.
6. In case of emergency
It is important to prepare for the worst when planning a trip. Ultimately you are responsible for the safety of everyone in your party. Several precautions should be taken before and during the trip.
It is vital that you tell someone where you are planning on going, the route you intend on taking and who is in your party. You should designate a date and time that the safety person (the person not going tramping) should inform the Police if you have not made contact. The amount of time will vary based on your trip, as parties are often delayed by a day or more if they plan on crossing an unbridged river that is swollen.
Check the forecast and pack for the worst
As discussed earlier, it is essential you check the weather forecast before you leave. Is also important that you carry warm clothing even if the weather looks nice. Both of these precautions have their own article. You should also carry spare food in case of being stuck somewhere.
Hire a Personal Locator Beacon
If you are planning a moderate or hard trip, it is recommended that you carry a PLB. OUTC owns several which can be hired out. If you are unsure if you need one, get in touch with a long-term club member either via email, Facebook or at a weekly meeting (see the footer).
Know your party and travel smart
It is important that you know the limits of your party, this includes their fitness and experience. You should aim to travel as a group to reduce the risk of someone getting lost or separated from the group. The easiest way to do this is to put the slowest party member first and to stop every hour to regroup. It is important you keep a track of these factors in your party: tiredness, hypothermia (excessive coldness), overheating and dehydration, blisters and other injuries, being scared (e.g. of heights), and struggling to keep up.
All that is left now is to write an article about your epic trip and submit it to Antics (the annual journal of the OUTC) – you should encourage your trip members to do the same! Articles can be anything from a long-winded, blow-by-blow accounts of the route you took (which is particularly useful for off-track routes), recipes, jokes, quotes, photos, and poems – whatever takes your fancy. So put your pen to paper and immortalize your trips in Antics!
8. Finding companions
I don't mean finding a significant other, although that may happen too, tramping is best with a group. It means less weight, better banter, splitting fuel costs and increased safety as you can look out for each other. There are several ways to find tramping buddies:
The Facebook group
Email the list
Advertise your trip via firstname.lastname@example.org by writing a simple email, send it, then bam! Every member knows you plan awesome things!
Every Tuesday at 6pm the club has Happy Hour down at the Bog. This is a great way to find people to come with you, with the added bonus of free chips!
Any questions? feel free to get in touch with us either at a meeting, on the Facebook page or by sending an email to