There’s a saying in New Zealand: Given a bit of number 8 wire, a Kiwi bloke can turn their hand to anything. Well, as a Kiwi bloke, I’d like to think it’s true, and nowhere is our resourcefulness more appreciated than in the outdoors.
We’re an endangered breed these days – stifled by that introduced species… The New Age Metrosexual! But you can still find us old-fashioned Kiwi blokes in some of New Zealand’s wild and remote corners — trekking in the South Island (or “tramping” as we say here), in places like stunning Fiordland National Park, where so much true wilderness still remains. If you venture backcountry, you’ll find us dishing out our best advice when required, giving a helping hand at river crossings or whipping up an amazing meal from a few random ingredients at a backcountry hut.
Fake it Till You Make It
If you ever find yourself trekking in New Zealand, use these handy tips to blend in, so as not to spook the native Kiwis (that goes for the birds as well as the locals!):
1. When you’re staying in backcountry huts, take a jar of Vegemite – rather than Marmite or peanut butter – and offer to share it round. You’ll get your taste buds round the difference in no time. And bring enough Milo, or mulled wine, to share with fellow hikers – especially if you’re prone to snoring!
2. Be prepared so you don’t have to find out how good our Search and Rescue service is. It’s just not cool to be rescued for forgetting your map and thermals! You can grab a map at the local Department of Conservation (DOC) office and consider renting an emergency locator beacon. Also, don’t hike alone – it’s not worth it. Not even us Kiwi blokes go bush alone very often.
3. Plan for unpredictable maritime weather in these parts – weather reports can be wrong and things can change in an instant. Wear layers of merino wool (it works for the high country sheep!) and make sure you’ve always got your rain gear and sunscreen handy.
4. Lose the zip-off pants and wear striped polypros (thermals) under your shorts. Rock that look like a true Kiwi.
5. Wear waterproof boots and bring spare socks — river crossings are common and dry socks become the best thing ever after a day tramping with wet feet. Make like a sheep and wear merino wool too. It is still warm when wet.
Kiwi Lingo: How to navigate your first verbal encounters
“Tramping in Nelson Lakes was choice, aye.”
Translation: You should have come hiking with me in Nelson Lakes National Park, it was spectacular!
“Mate, we were munted from the drive so did the Tiki tour on the way up.”
Translation: We were pretty tired from the drive so we took our time and made lots of stops on the way up to the hut.”
“Ridgeline was a piece of piss, eh?”
Translation: Hiking down was easier.
And remember, you’ll often have to decipher by context if the conversation is about the people of New Zealand, our native flightless bird or the delicious fruit! If You Can’t Beat Them, Join ‘Em!
The best way to hike New Zealand like a Kiwi is to go with one. Active New Zealand’s legendary Kiwi guides have taken over 10,000 travellers hiking since 1996.