Showing posts with label Trampers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trampers. Show all posts

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Who will you encounter when tramping in New Zealand?

The endless variety of trampers found in New Zealand

You are likely to encounter a wide variety of people when tramping in New Zealand.  Outdoor activity is an important aspect of what it means to be a Kiwi and we love being out on adventures. It is also an important part of may other peoples way of life as well.

Trampers outside new Kime hut (DOC photo)

Here are some groups of people you are likely to meet in your travels.

No-one.... that's right buddy just you!

Yep, you could quite conceivably go days on end without coming across another soul. This is less likely now New Zealand is a Mecca for tourists, but at least 50% of the time I find myself alone in huts at night. So will you.

You should remember that New Zealand is 30% larger than the UK with about a tenth of the population.Its empty (relatively speaking) out there.

Me and Magdalen Hut keep each other company...

This is fine if you don't mind being by yourself and you are a capable tramper. If that does not sound like you, then sister/brother, you got problems....

Squirt, the Old Man and Stinky Pete: Te Araroa hikers

You will most likely encounter folk walking the Te Araroa Trail either as through or section hikers. This is especially likely if you are walking through the central South Island as most TA hikers need to cross your path.

There will be some sections where you will only encounter TA trekkers, the tracks are just not used by anyone else. Examples of this would be the tracks between the Rakaia River and Wanaka, Snowdon Forest and 90 Mile Beach. Almost all of the high country trails are only walked by TA hikers with the occasional Kiwi hunter being the other small user group.

Gerald, Kiwiscout and James, TA 2014 from; Kiwiscout Walks Aotearoa

If you are lucky, you will meet TA trampers who will be happy to walk with you, so you get to know them a bit. The biggest group I've struck so far was 12 all moving together. More common are groups of 2-5 walking together.

Look for out Te Araroa trampers in their rest towns: Wanganui, St Arnauld, Hanmer, Arthurs Pass, Wanaka etc. they stand out like a sore thumb. Strange nicknames, long hair and big beards often set them apart.

Sven, Yuki, Greta, Jakob and Rob-bo the Aussie...tramping tourists!

Wilkommen, Bienvenue, Yƍkoso, Gidday Mate...Welcome, come on in....

New Zealand is an overseas visitors paradise, especially for those interested in the outdoors. There would hardly be a spot anywhere in the country that some backpacker has not visited.  I have spent time in huts with people from 27 different countries at one time or another.

Party of 'tramping tourists' I meet at Lake Rotoiti in 2016

Most are from Europe, Australia and North America. You seldom see people from Asia, Africa or South America...possibly some cultural reason they do not tramp???

 Language may be a problem but make sure you try to talk to people from other countries, you would be surprised how similar we are under our particular cultural baggage.

The "Great Walkers" 

Closely related to the 'tramping tourist" is the Great Walker. New Zealand has a series of nine trails termed the 'Great Walks'. Kiwis tramp the great walks, I am walking them myself, but most are overseas tourists. It is often the primary focus of their trip- often the reason they decided to visit New Zealand in the first place. Excepting the Hobbitons.....

Great Walkers in their natural habitat: Routeburn Track

The Great Walks are: Lake Waikaremoanna Track, Tongariro Northern Circuit, Whanganui River Journey, Abel Tasman Coastal Track, Heaphey Track, Routeburn Track, Milford Track, Kepler Track and Rakuiria Track.

There is some spillage from the official tracks. Ancillary tracks featuring Great Walkers include the trip to Lake Angelus, Rees-Dart Circuit, Caples-Greenstone Circuit,  Welcome Flat Hotpools and Travers - Blue Lake- Sabine Circuit. None of these are official Great Walks but they have similar features and so appeal to touring hikers. 

A movie series to rule them all- the Hobbitons!

Most of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR)/Hobbit series were filmed in New Zealand and we get a lot of people visiting to see the places where the movie magic happened. 
Misty Mountains from LOTR: aka The Remarkables
While some of the scenes are CGI, probably 50% of the live action was filmed in the mountains around Queenstown and in the Mackenzie Basin. There is also Hobbiton outside Wellington and 'Modor' aka Mt Tongariro in the Central North Island. 

The Kiwi "weekend warrior"

This group comprises everyday Kiwi trampers/climbers/MTB'ers out for a day or multi day adventure. They generally visit places where other people are not;  usually hard arsed bush on the West Coast of the South Island. Also found in the Kaimais, Ruahines, Kaimaniwas, Tararua's, remote Southern Alps and Fiordland.

A typical group of kiwi trampers meet on trail

Kiwis can sometimes seem a bit standoffish at first- don't be offended, it is just our nature.  We eventually warm up and you will find most of us interesting and generous to a fault. Kiwi trampers will often give you food,  good advice or a ride to civilisation if our paths cross at the right time. Don't be afraid to ask.

As a Kiwi, I make a point of talking to everyone I see on the trail or at a hut because we are all in this together. You should do the same.

Hunters and Collectors

New Zealand has a long history of hunting, trapping and fishing so you are quite likely to meet Kiwi hunters and anglers. I do the odd spot of fishing myself.

There is a strained relationship between trampers and hunters in NZ but some of the most interesting people I have meet while tramping have been hunters/anglers. Its all about the person, not the sport they engage in.

Kiwi hunts-women: Both women and men hunt in New Zealand...

Just show a bit of understanding for each other and you will have no problems. And you might just score a whiskey, tasty trout fillet (best cooked in a bit of tin foil with a sprinkle of salt and squeeze of lemon) or venison back steak for your troubles...

We do this for a job...DOC workers

You will almost certainly encounter workers from the Department of Conservation, or DOC as we call them in NZ. They may be New Zealanders or volunteers from other countries depending on the role. Most are really cool and totally passionate about the environment.

You are most likely to encounter them at the various DOC offices, working as hut wardens and occasionally out in the field.

DOC Ranger at work

Some can seem overly officious, especially if they believe you are doing something wrong. Hey, both you and I might be slightly peeved if we turned up at a hut (which is also our home) and found mud, food and wet gear all over the place! Especially if you haven't paid the very reasonable hut fees...sacre bleu as the French say..the cheek of it!

...exactly, add the government and your right on the money!

These women and men work hard at their jobs, and it is not always an easy job, so again show them some respect. Just take them as you find them and remember, they will most likely be the first people coming to look for you if you get into difficulties.

Some final advice to Kiwi and tourist both...

For a happy life, pay your hut fees!

No, I mean it, pay your damn hut fees!

DOC Hut pass and hut tickets...if you use the huts, then pay for your stay!

There is nothing more likely to get a DOC hut warden (or a kiwi tramper) riled up than you arriving, using and abusing a hut and then not paying for it. A six month DOC Hut pass is $90, most huts only cost from $5-15 per night. That is nothing compared to the $1000 i-phone and $2-3000 worth of other tramping gear you are carrying.

Pay up people, this includes the New Zealanders! As I have said before, no you haven't paid for it already with your taxes. Joe Blogg's paid for it back in 1967 when the hut was built. You are paying to maintain it...