All of the guide books and travel websites and locals agree: tramping (hiking) or often multi-day hiking, is a must-do in New Zealand. After plenty of trudging through mud and mountains, I can see why. These landscapes are unreal: the richness of colors, the vast amount of untouched land, the great variety of environments. This place is best experienced on foot, and when you do experience your first tramp, these thoughts will probably cross your mind.
1. “I have to bring all of the food I could ever want to eat. And then about twenty extra muesli (granola) bars in case I get stranded in the bush for three months.” My friends and I packed way too much food for our first tramp, including entire jars of peanut butter and jelly, potatoes, and corn. Our stomachs appreciated it, but our backs didn’t.
2. “My pack weighs as much as I do. Now how am I supposed to carry this thing?” One of the biggest struggles of tramping: getting your pack on. Some combination of squat and dead lift and throwing the thing over your back should work.
3. “Wow, this isn’t too bad. I can do this. I’m not even tired.” You will only have this thought in the first five minutes of your tramp.
4. “This pack is heavy. I don’t know how I’m going to do this for the next 3/4/5/6 hours until I get to my camp site for the night. Is it too early for one of those granola bars?” This thought will be a reoccurring one, but somehow, you’ll put one foot in front of the other, and you’ll make it eventually.
5. “Was that a raindrop? Nooo, it can’t rain. And of course, my rain jacket is at the bottom of my pack.” My friends and I got absolutely drenched on the first day of our tramp. We believed the tree tops would give us enough cover and our rain jackets were somewhere far in our packs and the rain would stop soon anyways. We were wrong.
6. “Wow, I’ve never tasted an apple so good in my entire life.” The thought during your first snack break.
7. “Going downhill was supposed to be easy.” After a few kilometers of climbing uphill, you might be relieved to see a downhill section of the track—until you realize that going downhill makes your quads burn as you fight your pack to stay upright and avoid tumbling down the hill.
8. “These suspension bridges look so cool.” Then you take one step and it starts wobbling and you start blaming your friends for making it swing. You get across it as fast as you can, forgive your friends when you’re back on steady ground, and resume the game of 20 Questions you were playing to pass the hours.
9. “I’m sure that view is incredible if I could see anything other than cloud.” New Zealand couldn’t be as beautiful and green without all of the rain it gets. So sometimes, that means you come to a spectacular look out and all you see is this:
10. “Wow. This view makes everything worth it.” My friends and I hiked for three days seeing mostly just clouds. Then on the last day, the skies cleared and we were crazy enough to do the first part of the tramp again to see what the view from there actually looks like:
11. “If I could do this, I can do anything!” And then you book yourself for another tramp next weekend.