You and some mates have 4 (5 at a stretch) days up your sleeve. Over a couple of pints of beer you decide that it's time to get serious about your New Zealand hiking trip – maps are strewn across the table and the battle for supreme geographical knowledge ensues. Eventually a somewhat democratic decision is reached, based more on gusto than facts. It's time for a hiking trip up the Landsborough and Clarke valleys located between Makarora and Haast.
Please note - the following gear guide is general and not specific to an Active Adventures Tour. The good news is, if you join us on a multi-day hike, you won't need some of the gear we've listed below - because we take care of it for you. If you're joining one of our trips we'll supply you with a gear list that specifies everything you'll need and ensure you'll be hiking safely.
Things to consider
- Is this really a good idea - to hike up one valley, better known for rafting than hiking, climb over a mountain and hike down the other valley, back to the 4WD? Yes, of course it is! It's in the spirit of adventure.
- Do you know anyone that's been here, that you can get first-hand knowledge from? No, not really.
- Can you mark out a route that fits with the length of time you have and if you're wrong, do you have a contingency plan? Hmm, it's debatable whether we did this, because it could have led us back to the first question!
- What is the weather forecast? This time, it's the end of summer and from memory the forecast went something like this “chance of showers with some fine spells, gusty about the ridges…” In other words, anything was possible!
- Will there be drinking water? Yes, plenty.
- Will there be shelter? We know of at least one hunter's hut, but have no idea what condition it is in. Best to bring tents.
Now when you approach a trip like this it's easy to get carried away. Not only will you need a tent and all that that represents, but you'll be carrying food too! Let's start with the obvious things (and I'll cover food at the end).
A good quality 60L hiking pack:
For goodness sake make sure you've used this pack before and feel comfortable with it. I've specified 60 Litres (3,700 cubic inches) because that is the size of my pack and I wouldn't want to have anything bigger. For folks that like to carry the kitchen sink, try 65-70L.
As you will soon find out, a pack liner is worth its weight in gold. I like to have the pack liner running right the way through my pack to the bottom, so that I effectively just have the one compartment. Although it is harder to get things from the bottom, it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for guaranteed dryness.
Regardless of whether you have an equal party of hikers, I would URGE YOU to get in quick, FIND a partner and share a tent. You've got plenty of time for solitude during the day, so to save space (and your shoulders), grab a buddy and split the tent up. Actually there are 2 ways to do this each with its merits: One person carries the whole tent and another carries something else, or you split everything as evenly as possible.
I cherish my sleeping bag. It gets aired out after every trip. I've seen what can happen to a bag that is un-loved – it's not a pretty site, or smell. Everyone knows there are down-feather and synthetic options out there and everyone will have an opinion on what is better. I'm no different. My opinion lacks much credibility and is based mainly on habit…I've always had a goose-down bag and it is nice and warm. For added warmth and to protect my bag I often take a silk liner too:
Choose a respectable brand and you'll find that 9 times out of 10 you get what you pay for. Gor-Tex is the obvious choice, although these days there are many viable alternatives. Just make sure it's waterproof and breathable. At least as important, if not more, is its shape. If you're going mountaineering you'd choose a jacket that isn't baggy and doesn't get in the way. For hiking though, you can be a bit more relaxed.
New Zealanders have developed their own 'tramping' jacket:
A 'Tramping jacket' isn't an old jacket with lots of holes, worn by a tramp! A tramping jacket is designed for wet bush conditions and is longer than your typical jacket, reaching down to your thighs. This stops it riding up, but also allows you to wear shorts and still stay warm.
You won't be packing these, but you also may not wear them in the truck, so let's not forget ‘em! A pair of trail runners, or below-ankle boots won't cut the mustard now. Make sure you have a good pair of boots that are worn-in and waterproofed.
I religiously tend to my leather boots after each decent hike, using some wax Waterproofing to keep them in top-notch condition. You should do the same.
We're now moving into the only-just-non-essential items, if that makes sense. The only real question here is whether to get the short, stumpy gaiters or the long ones that go to just below your knee. I have a pair of the long ones, but actually wish I had shorter ones, because they get pretty warm. It mainly just depends on the shrubbery you'll be charging through.
You may wonder why thermals follow gaiters. There is a genuine reason. I tend to pack as I imagine my clothing from bottom to top. If you're like me and do care about your fellow hiker's overall experience you should bring more than one pair! Merino wool is my preferred choice, but it can be a bit expensive!
Quick shorts & pants:
I'm not a huge fan of zip-off pants. I prefer a simple pair of quick-dry shorts with a few pockets. They need to be strong enough to handle the bush lawyer and odd rudely placed sharp branch.
You will need a pair of fleece Pants for the evenings and morning and this is when fashion really takes a back seat. Tight around the ankles so you don't step all over them is the way to go.
Camping stove, cooking and eating utensils:
Clearly still in the essentials basket, but you'd be surprised how many people forget these things! Cooking stoves come in many shapes and sizes these days, but unless you're worried about melting snow, you should go for a light-weight butane gas:
You'll be cooking in the hut, so a light-weight butane gas burner will come in handy.
Butane Gas Burner/Stove:
will be perfect (rather than the kerosene style Kerosene/Liquid Fuel Stove more commonly used at altitude or in freezing conditions).
You'll Obiously need at least one pot:
A pocket knife:
Forks & Spoons (Don't bother with a 'spork', they're gimmicks):
Lighter and matches in a waterproof container:
Lighter/Matches in a Waterproof Container. Borrowing a lighter from someone else in the hut will hardly set you in good stead for the rest of the night!
You'll be spending 4 or 5 days in the wilderness. You'll hopefully catch some great sunsets, maybe some funny shots of your mate's tent poorly pitched. Who knows? But it really would be silly to forget your camera!
Now we're moving into the important, but not essential items – have you still got space left in your pack?
Personal Locator Beacon:
As mentioned previously, these are becoming more popular by the minute. They're now at a friendlier price point and well worth considering.
They're light weight and can make a huge difference, especially if you happen to tweak an old knee or ankle injury. Most people like them to be at about right angles to your elbows when standing.
First Aid Kit:
You should also consider bringing pain relief, some toilet paper and hay fever tablets. I tend to include toothpaste in this list – for no other reason than to save on bringing a separate toiletries bag! Each to their own!
Arguably essential, but only if you know how to use them! Make sure somebody in the group actually knows how to use the compass with a map. The Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is responsible for our maps here and they typically come at a scale of 1:50,000. You should also consider laminating your maps for durability.
What sort of bond do you have with your fellow hikers? Have you lived together before? Do you know what each person likes to eat, or how important food is to them? I definitely recommend you put aside some time either on the day you plan to leave for your adventure or the day before, to do a group shop! Be systematical. Don't be afraid to plan out your meals on a scrap piece of paper. You really want to nail this part of the planning. It's unlikely to be a matter of life and death, but on a rainy evening if all you have left is a jar of peanut butter and some scroggin, it's not going to cheer you up. Rather than stipulate a hiker's menu, I'll provide some ideas (I'm an omnivore and have no allergies or dislikes…):
Muesli or porridge. Consider bringing some sultanas and other dried fruits in a small snap lock bag, also some brown sugar and milk powder.
Pita Pockets if packed carefully are great. If you know it's not going to be hot, bring cheese.
Pita Pockets if packed carefully are great. If you know it's not going to be hot, bring cheese, Salami and humus. Canned tuna is great too.
Dehydrated Backpacker Meals. Although they are expensive. Pasta packets are great and a lot cheaper and can easily be made tastier by adding almost anything to them. Sun-dried Tomatoes are a good flavour booster!
Just because you're camping it doesn't mean you have to forgo this luxury. At one end of the delectable scale you could simply pack some chocolate biscuits, at the other you could bring an all-in-one chocolate cake mix!
Scroggin (aka gorp), muesli bars, oranges, apples.
and you may also want to bring tea, Milo or coffee along too. Remember to get rid of all the excess packaging before you start out, because you'll have to carry everything back with you anyway.
Now you're packed! (I take no responsibility for any mis-adventures resulting from inadequate packing!) If you want to experience a multi-day hiking in New Zealand but aren't sure where to start, have a look at our hiking-focused adventures, many of them include multi-day hikes as options.