Brucini started seriously travelling after attempting to move to Queenstown, New Zealand, in 1996.Inspired by drunkenly meeting a world of travelers on a Kiwi Experience bus, he changed his plans and roamed the world for a year. ...Find out more!
It was after 8pm when a curly haired American girl straggled into Iris Burn Hut on the Kepler track, a Great Walk, in Fiordland, New Zealand. Ranger Robbie had just finished his nightly information talk to the rest of the trampers in the hut. Everyone else had arrived at this hut by four o’clock in the afternoon.
The girl was relieved but Ranger Robbie wasn’t amused. What you did was very irresponsible, he publicly expressed to the girl.
Due to her desire to camp, and tight schedule to get to the Milford Sound the following day, she was attempting to do the Kepler track in two days when most people take three to four days.
There’s nothing wrong with that ambition (some super fit folk run it in one day), however, she left the Department of Conservation office on the Te Anau lake shore at 10am. Starting the walk at this time meant she didn’t leave Luxmore Hut until two o’clock. Everyone else had left this hut by 10am.
Just past Luxmore hut a ranger had met her on the trail and saw her struggling beneath a pack nearly as large as her. He tried to dissuade her. Along the exposed ridgeline between Luxmore Hut and Iris Burn Hut the weather was quickly deteriorating. This girl would end up walking the last three hours in the dark and rain with her head lamp burning into the night. She could have easily slipped off the trail, sparking a search and rescue event.
For the rangers on this track, this will now be just another story to tell – one that at least didn’t turn out badly. Though they would probably still agree more travellers to New Zealand should get out and experience the wild places that make New Zealand so unique.
One of the best ways to do this is to start with one of the so-called Great Walks of New Zealand. These popular, resourced and marketed walking tracks give access to some of the most inspiring scenery the country has to offer. These tracks with comfortable huts, supplied cookers and resident rangers in peak season are both saviour and a lure that leads some into complacency, especially, but not exclusively, inexperienced or unprepared tourists.
Get into the wild in New Zealand – just do so prepared and within your limits.
It will probably rain, heavily. So if you don’t have a good raincoat and waterproof pack liner don’t start the walk.
Pack covers blow off when the wind gets above approx 80 km/h. In any exposed area you may well experience those gusts. Pack liners will also keep your kit dry, chances are a pack cover won’t.
Walks rated ‘easy’ in NZ are probably ‘moderate’ in your home country. So don’t bite off more than you can chew, but safely challenge yourself all the same.
Start with a longer/harder day walk before you attempt an overnight walk. If you’ve not hiked before it’s best to dip your toe in the water, so to speak, before taking the plunge. You’ll at least get a sense of what a multi-day walk will be like.
Tell someone reliable where and when you are going. And most importantly when you will return. Notify that same person when you do.