Tramping – the best fun in the world or utter misery?
Kiwi’s call in tramping, it’s called hiking in the USA and Aussies call in bush walking. To a local, tramping is a multi-day walk in the wilderness during which you carry everything you need on your back, in a pack. The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is the perfect introduction to tramping. The track is well-graded, signposted and maintained so you really can’t go too far wrong. Running along an incredibly beautiful coastline, the Abel Tasman is like a combination of tramping and a beach holiday.
New Zealand is chock-full of other tramping trails, many of which are more challenging in terms of the navigation required and the terrain you cover. In March each year I join a group of mates for a week-long tramp in the some of the most remote wilderness area of our backcountry. Every time I’m on one of these tramps I find myself wondering why the hell I’m walking for up to 10 hours per day carrying a heavy pack through some of the most inhospitable terrain in the country. Anybody who knows me won’t be surprised to hear that I spend a disproportionate amount of time falling on my butt, down banks or even face-planting in river beds. So, again, I find myself wondering what has possessed me to spend so much of my free time doing this stuff and whether I’m a sadist or if I’m actually addicted to drudgery. The truth is however, that along with being challenging, tramping is one of the most rewarding activities I’ve ever done.
One of the main appeals of tramping to me, particularly the gnarly stuff over several days, is the physical and mental self-reliance of it all. I need to be in good physical and mental shape to complete the tramp in one piece. I also need to be totally organised with my gear and food. After all, there’s no nipping down to MacPac if I forget my rain jacket, and I will suffer terribly if I fail to bring the right food. Tramping also rips me away from all of the modern conveniences/creature-comforts that are a massive part of my everyday life. I love unplugging from all of that and being forced to spend my entire day lost in my own thoughts. I’ve come to the realisation that being bored as I walk through seemingly endless stretches of wilderness is not only okay, but it’s also rather therapeutic.
Spending time in New Zealand’s most remote alpine areas is the chance to experience the most amazing, unspoilt scenery in the country. The views from the top of a mountain just can’t be beaten and a chance encounter with the rarest of our native birdlife is magical. Those are the obvious benefits of being out there in the wilderness. But there’s a lot more to it than simply enjoying nice views. After all, there are plenty of fantastic elevated views to be had from mountains that you can drive up!
If you’re new to tramping, a multi-day trip in the Abel Tasman is the perfect place to start. If you love the experience, then the Nelson Tasman District, and indeed the rest of New Zealand is full of an endless array of options for longer and more difficult tramping routes. If I had to name my top 3 backcountry areas in NZ the list would be Rakiura on Stewart Island, Mount Aspiring National Park in Fiordland and the Kahurangi National Park. All of those areas have a fantastic mix of well-formed trails and challenging off-trial circuits to explore.
Blog by Brendan Alborn
Owner Operator – Alborn Enterprises
Brendan has a 20 year association with the Abel Tasman, visiting it for the first time when his parents moved to Marahau in 1997. After spending much of his life overseas, Brendan and his family moved to the area at the end of 2010. When Brendan is not spending his time in the outdoors he seems to spend much of his time creating even flimsier justifications for spending more time in the outdoors