Tramping is one of those things that I think every New Zealander needs to have a go at – even if, like me, you only do it once.
A few years ago over a few glasses of wine, my girlfriends and I decided to tramp the Abel Tasman. Wine has a lot to answer for.
Over the coming months we trained by going for long walks while discussing what we’d take to eat while tramping. There’d be no tinned tuna and two minute noodles for us, we were going to tramp in style. Thai chicken curry, sundried tomato and chorizo pasta with a mandatory stop at Awaroa Lodge for dinner on the last night were on the menu.
We organised a tent, an old fashioned triangular number which we affectionately called “retro-tent”. We poured clean water into water bottles in case there was none available during the tramp. We bought sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses, hats and toffee pops.
The day we were set to tramp off into the great wide yonder dawned bright and beautiful with sunny clear skies and a light breeze. We were ready. We were planned. We were sorted, well as sorted as three girls who’d never tramped further than the local Glassons could be.
Or so we thought.
We spent the first day tramping in the gorgeous weather that the Tasman area is renowned for. I still remember being amazed at the blueness of the sea and the whiteness of the sand, compared to the grey seas and grey beaches that I’d grown up with. That night we pitched tent only to wake at 4 in the morning when the temperature dropped considerably.
Lesson one. Wear thermals to bed, even when you tramp in summer.
The next day was another stunning one and as usual we spent the day gobsmacked by the breathtaking scenery. Once again we pitched tent and then got to know some fellow trampers around the campfire. Then it started to drizzle, then rain, which forced a retreat to retro-tent. That night we woke up to hear thunder rumbling, lighting crackling and rain bucketing down. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse it did! Next thing you know twin rivers ran through our wee retro-tent. We discussed turning back in the morning and getting a water taxi the heck out of there.
After a few fretful hours sleep we woke to blue skies again. Thankfully some very nice gentlemen trampers who we’d met the night before took pity on us and helped us dry out the tent before carrying on their way.
Lesson two. Make friends with fellow trampers, you’ll never know when they’ll come in handy.
With our tent dry and packed we carried on our way, basking in the sunshine, marvelling at how quickly the weather could change and very glad that we didn’t turn back.
The last night was much the same as the first, a clear sky with a frosty start. And after a few glasses of wine and a delicious meal at Awaroa Lodge the only thing that could wake us was a possum jumping over retro-tent and hitting the roof on its descent.
That morning we packed up and walked three more hours in the Tasman’s golden sunshine, proud that our city feet could handle four days of tough terrain – and looking forward to having our first shower in four days.
Lesson three. There’s no place like home.
Have you had any crazy tramping experiences?
Or have your learnt any lessons while tramping?
I’d love to know because maybe I’m thinking I’ll give it a go again. The Queen Charlotte track could be fun.