She’s a tramp!

View of Mt Awful from the top of the Gillespie Pass

…Well, not in that sense.  But I have been doing a lot of tramping (NZ for hiking) recently.  I am even an official member of the OTMC (Otago tramping and mountaineering club)!

It’s amazing how addictive tramping is.  I guess I’ve been lucky, I’ve never been on a “bad” tramp before.  Although certainly you can get bad weather, big crowds, people can get sick or injured – these things happen.  And the longer your tramp, the more likely you will to get 1 or 2 days of rain (this is NZ, and you’re probably tramping in the Mountains).  But still, on every tramp, you find yourself talking to people and getting ideas for your next tramp!

It is a reasonably affordable hobby (well, the gear can be expensive, but you can always beg or borrow to start out with).  But once you’ve got your gear (boots, pack, sleeping bag, mat, raincoat, pots and a cooker), its only the cost of petrol and food.  Staying in the huts is reasonably cheap ($15/night for non- great walk huts, $5 if you’re in a tent).

Anyways, over Easter, I had the privilege to walk the Gillespie Pass Circuit near Makarora.  This was the most difficult track I have ever done – the 2nd day, over the pass, is a killer.  I have learned my lesson regarding too much gear!  From now on, minimal gear because weight is everything!

Then, last weekend I went on a quick weekend tramp with the OTMC.  We did the first day of the Greenstone Caples track.  This was a very easy track, only 3+ hours into the hut, and no major elevation to contend with.  Most of the river crossings were bridged, and the track was wide and well graded.

It’s interesting, I can usually only fit about 1 long (4+ day) tramp in per year.  And considering I [probably] only have 18-24 months left in New Zealand, that doesn’t leave many tramps to fit in before I leave (and can you guess – I want to do ALL of them?!).

Hopefully I can knock off both the Routeburn and Kepler easily later this year (they are both only 4 hour’s drive away).  Tongiraro circuit on the North Island and part of the Norhtwest Circuit on Stewart Island would also be on the top of my list…  And lets not forget the Heaphy, Hump Ridge and Abel Tasman tracks!

But now I’ve got another track I’m interested in, the Travers-Sabine Circuit.  It was the track presented this week at tramping club.  4-7 days and reasonably challenging (probably moreso than the Gillespie due to day 2 being a 500m climb, day 3 is a 460m climb followed by an 1100m descent – 1100m descent!!!  That would be a killer…).  Although it’s only 80k (Gillespie was 68k) so could definitely be done in less than 7 days, I think.  The reason I want to do it is the day trip up to Blue Lake, which has the clearest water in the world.  Yes, I would like to see that.

So to sum up…  tramping is amazing.  I’m addicted.  I realized the other day that my love for tramping is going to make it very hard for me to leave NZ.  Not that I haven’t always enjoyed camping/hiking/canoeing.  I have.  But it wasn’t until I came to NZ that I came into my own and started getting serious about tramping.  I’m certainly no expert yet, but hopefully with continued experience, someday I will be.  I would like to be able to say that I’ve seen many of NZ’s best sights; the most remote, hidden away, magical spots, that you have to walk hours to get to, carrying a heavy pack, enduring sore feet (and sore muscles) and sandflies!

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