Hut bagging family

Features

Shaun Barnett meets the hut-bagging Glover family of Nelson Hut bagging may not be a Commonwealth Games event, but one Nelson family takes their tramping very seriously – even a...

Across the Kaimanawa Range

Off the Beaten Track

Shaun Barnett gets to grips with windfall and over-confidence in the central North Island. Gaining experience in any endeavour often follows a learning curve. Initially, as you gain experience, you’re...

Feeling for Daylight

Wild Read

The Photographs of Jack Adamson By Rhian Gallagher South Canterbury Museum, $45 Jack Adamson was a labourer, glacier guide, Hermitage manager, mountaineer, husband and father who lived at Mount Cook...

Darran Mountains, Fiordland National Park

Wild Range

The Darran Mountains contain Fiordland’s highest peaks and some of New Zealand’s most arresting mountain scenery. Here Ice Age glaciers have scooped out magnificent alpine lakes, carved precipitous mountain walls,...

Mountain cedar

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Three places to see this shapely tree of the mountains In many ranges of New Zealand, mountain cedar dominates the canopy near the bushline, its dark, conical shape distinctive and...

Forest Service-era Bivouacs

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Three places to bed down for the night Despite the fact they aren’t much bigger than a medium-sized tent, I have a great fondness for staying at two-bunk bivs. Often...

Rich pickings in Nelson’s backyard

Classic Tracks

Maungatapu and Pelorus Tracks, Mt Richmond Forest Park Murderers Rocks. I’d imagined prominent triangular boulders, a place of malice and treachery. In reality the rocks are small with just enough...

Limestone landscapes

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Three places to tramp amongst limestone landscapes Of all the non-biological elements that make up the natural world, rock seems the least dynamic, the least life-like. Water and weather have...

Bonsai, luck and adversity

Out There

A bonsai tree offers lessons in adversity today’s overindulged society would do well to take heed of For my 30th birthday, my sister gave me a pot-plant. Worsley, as I...

Pirongia Mountain

Wild Range

Pirongia Forest Park, Waikato Pirongia Mountain’s distinctive summit dominates the skyline just 25km south of Hamilton. Although the forest-clad peak no longer resembles one, it was once a large volcano....

See more... chamois

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Three places to spot the mountain goat of the Alps One cold day in Arthur’s Pass, I was clambering up Dunns Creek and rounded a large boulder to find myself...

The third man

Wild Survival

Shaun Barnett investigates an unusual phenomenon experienced by those in extreme hardship In 1933 mountaineer Frank Smythe found himself high on Mt Everest, higher than anyone had ever been before,...

Giant weta

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Where to go to spot more of New Zealand’s largest native insect The thunderstorm unleashed its force with unexpected ferocity. One moment we had been in sun on the curious...

See more… mountain cabbage trees

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A tropical species that has made its home in the mountains  The track to Rangiwahia Hut in the Ruahine Range has always been one of my favourites. The benched and...

See more… Kea

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Three places to find this smart, playful and often fiendish alpine parrot Explorer Charlie Douglas wrote of kea: ‘For curiosity and impudence the kea takes the record among all the...

Fiordland, Landscape and Life

Wild Read

Fiordland, Landscape and Life By Roger Wandless with John Hall-Jones Roger Wandless Publishing 2011, $80 A picture of the Museum Range shows a glint of light on the foreground mountain...

Travers and St Arnaud Ranges

Wild Range

Nelson Lakes National Park Almost all trampers who have ventured into Nelson Lakes National Park will know the Travers and St Arnaud Ranges. Together they form two of four ranges...

Rock Bivouacs

Waypoints

See more… rock bivouacs While walking up the Young Valley a couple of years ago, I came across a great gash in the forest, with large trees splintered like kindling...

Kirwin’s Legacy

Classic Tracks

Shaun Barnett tramps around the mining relics of Kirwins Track in Victoria Forest Park Aside from a tin shed and a few abandoned car bodies, not much marks the former...

See more… kiwi

Waypoints, See more, Bird Spotting

Three places to spot New Zealand’s elusive feathered icon On my first trip to Stewart Island, I’d flown to Doughboy Bay from Invercargill and, within a few hours, seen a...

Scott’s forgotten man

Off the Beaten Track

Shaun Barnett sets about righting a wrong on the Polar Range Many trampers wile away countless hours examining maps, planning trips, or admiring contours. One of my favourite maps is...

See More… blue duck

Waypoints

Of all New Zealand’s native bird calls, it is perhaps the sharp whistle of a blue duck, or whio, that most thrills me. Early naturalist and conservationist Thomas Potts perhaps...

See More… puriri

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see more of this distinctive native tree To the uninitiated, the New Zealand bush can seem a confusing array of tangled greenery. The podocarps and beeches are...

See more... edelweiss

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see this endemic alpine plant Of the many native New Zealand alpine flowers, edelweiss is one of the more common and attractive. Growing in rocky fellfields above...

See more... North Island kaka

Waypoints

Three places to see this endemic bush parrot When approaching Kapiti Island by boat, you can often hear the resident kaka even before you land. A raucous, unconducted symphony of...

Hikurangi Range

Wild Range

Ruahine Forest Park The long and narrow Ruahine Range stretches between the Manawatu Gorge in the south and the Taruarau River in the north. Most of the range is protected...

Conservation milestones

21st Anniversary

Outdoor recreation is made more enjoyable by better access, more bird song and greater emphasis on conservation. Roving editor Shaun Barnett charts the important conservation milestones over the last few...

See more... bush clematis

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see this endemic creeper Of all New Zealand’s many native vines and creepers, the notorious bush lawyer is probably the best known to trampers. A shredded ear,...

See more... landslide lakes

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see beautiful lakes created from colossal destruction Perched high on Panekiri Bluff, overlooking Lake Waikaremoana, the arms of the lake sprawl in every direction like a great...

Butler Range

Wild Range

West Coast Stewardship Land Seen from SH6, the serrated peaks of the Butler Range emerge like carnivore’s teeth above the forest and mist. It’s an impressive sight, even by Southern...

See more… braided rivers

Waypoints, See more

Three places to these characteristic New Zealand rivers Many New Zealand trampers have threaded their way up Canterbury’s braided rivers, crossing each milky strand thinking it was the last, before...

Whanahuia Range

Wild Range

The Whanahuia Range, part of the 95,000ha Ruahine Forest Park, is a western outlier of tussock tops connected to the main Ruahine Range by the peak of Te Hekenga. Spanning...

See more... cushion plants

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see these characteristic New Zealand plants Trampers facing foul weather in the mountains can pull on a balaclava, don extra storm gear and if conditions turns really...

See more...waterfalls

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see spectacular cascades Venezuela’s 979m Angel Falls are the undisputed queen of waterfalls. Although local Indians had long known about them, it was not until American explorer...

Umukarikari and Middle Ranges

Wild Range

The Umukarikari and Middle Ranges are two of the most prominent features of the western Kaimanawa Forest Park, and form a substantial part of Kaimanawa Forest Park. The Waipakihi River divides...

Snowshoeing the Kepler

Features, Great Walks

There’s no better time to tackle the Kepler Great Walk than in winter There’s mist in the forest, but the winter sun makes a valiant effort to pierce the gloom....

See more... fur seals

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see these characteristic New Zealand marine mammals Once widespread around the coastline, the New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) has suffered since humans arrived in Aotearoa. Maori...

Why we should pay huts fees

Wild Comment

Paying hut fees is a demonstration of respect towards the ‘best backcountry hut network in the world’, writes Shaun Barnett Veteran tramper Pete Lusk previously wrote that he wouldn’t pay...

See more...tuatara

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see these ancient reptiles New Zealand’s largest reptile, tuatara, have fascinated zoologists ever since Europeans arrived on these shores. Survivors from 220 million years ago, these spiny...

Huiarau Range

Wild Range

Dividing the Bay of Plenty from East Coast/Hawke’s Bay, the Huiarau Range forms a convoluted forested ridge through Te Urewera and adjacent Whirinaki Forest Park. Beginning somewhere in the complicated...

See more... rifleman

Waypoints, See more, Bird Spotting

Three places to see the hard-to-spot and tiny rifleman New Zealand’s smallest bird flies in flocks, flitting through the trees in a relentless search for insects. Early European immigrants thought...

See more... rock tors

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see giant boulders eroded by millennia of weathering I’m a sucker for a good rock formation. Tussock tops are nice, but give me a chess-set of seemingly...

Kaweka Range

Wild Range

Kaweka Forest Park The Kaweka Range offers some of the North Island’s best tramping, rafting, fishing and hunting. Established in 1974, most of the range is protected as the 59,000ha...

Dawn on the Tablelands

Waypoints

Balloon Hut, Kahurangi National Park Is there any country so mellow, so inviting and so tramper-friendly as the Tableland of Kahurangi National Park? Carpets of beech forest lap the edges...

It takes all types

Features

Shaun Barnett profiles 12 different types of tramper – which one are you? Once, on the Heaphy Track, I followed a tramper with a rubbish bin lid strapped to his...

See more... driving dams

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see kauri driving dams One pull of a wire and the dam is unleashed. Down the steep valley sweep millions of litres of water, carrying tonnes of...

10 trips in Egmont National Park

Wild Range

The almost perfect cone of Mt Taranaki dominates the Taranaki Bight, a seemingly permanent feature of the landscape. But it’s only the latest in a line of four volcanoes that...

See more... historic cairns

Waypoints, See more

These four rock cairns provide a link to the past while serving as a guiding beacon to present-day trampers As rocks are almost ubiquitous in the mountains, they offer the...

See more… stone huts

Waypoints, See more

Three stone huts to rest your weary head There’s something solid and reassuring about a stone hut. Something that says the person who built it, meant it to last. The...

Mahanga Range and Franklin Ridge

Wild Range

Nelson Lakes National Park These two ranges in Nelson Lakes National Park flank either side of the Sabine Valley, and boast some of the area’s highest peaks. The two converge...

See More… memorials

Waypoints, See more

The outdoors can be a dangerous place at times. Here are four memorials to fallen trampers On a recent trip to the Orongorongo Valley, we followed an old section of...

See More… gorgeous gorges

Waypoints, See more

Three gorges worth getting wet to explore New Zealand’s backcountry rivers are full of gorges; some benign to the tramper, others difficult, and a number wholly impassable. Many tracks exist...

See More… three-wire bridges

Waypoints, See more

There’s a river below, discoloured and violent, and you’re about four metres above it, hanging precariously onto a flimsy-seeming structure made of a few wires and struts. Every time you...

Tongariro swingbridge

Hotshot

Tramper Geoff Norman crosses the swingbridge over the Whangaehu River Bridge, Round the Mountain Track, Tongariro National Park. The Whangaehu is the valley down which periodic lahars flow from Mt...

Tararua Main Range

Wild Range

The Tararua Range has a peculiar beauty that is hard to define. It’s something to do with the complex range of textures resulting from the particular blend of tussock, sub-alpine...

See More… buttercups

Waypoints, See more

Make the effort to get above the treeline in these three locations and you may be rewarded with buttercups in bloom Alpine flowers are one of the more picturesque elements...

Pen to paper

Features

In this day of digital everything why would anyone write in a tramping diary? Shaun Barnett still does and others also keep a colourful, personal record of their trips and outdoor...

See more… pipits

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see the tiny, sub-alpine-dwelling pipit Most trampers have seen them; a small dun-coloured bird that alights briefly, dips its tail, then runs off. They seem to fly only...

See More... northern rata

Waypoints, See more

  Three places to see a huge and beautiful iron-hearted tree Pohutukawa are known, appropriately enough, as New Zealand’s Christmas tree, given their spectacular red flowers that peak during late...

How the cullers once lived

Features

Shaun Barnett attends the opening of a restored tent camp in Kahurangi’s Cobb Valley Smoke drifted across the valley from a campfire made from river stones. Bellbirds sang, the river...

See more… fungi

Waypoints, See more

Autumn is the best time to go in search of fungi Fungi are so different from other organisms that taxonomists classify them in their own separate group, the ‘Kingdom of...

Matemateaonga Range

Wild Range

Whanganui National Park Connecting inland Taranaki with the Whanganui River, the Matemateaonga Range arcs roughly from west to east. In an otherwise complex, deeply-riven landscape, the range’s crest is curiously...

See more... Misery

Waypoints, See more

Four places where the worst of names offer the best of tramping New Zealand’s backcountry is full of cautionary names: Mt Awful, Desperation Pass, Big Hellfire Beach, Barrier Falls and...

Winter Blues

Wild Comment, Wild winter

Shaun Barnett contemplates advancing age and cold huts July 2014: the forecast was for snow above 1000m, and I imagined wandering around the slopes of Mt Taranaki, light snowflakes falling...

Miniature huts (and hikes)

Wild Huts

Two Wellington artists have brought the backcountry to the city, writes Shaun Barnett Over the last year, Wellington hut-baggers have had a choice of an extra seven huts to visit,...

See More... wheki-ponga

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see the brown tree fern It’s the Victorian lady of New Zealand tree ferns; a substantial plant with a splay of dead fronds so voluminous that it...

Swiss connection

Wild People

Shaun Barnett meets the owners of the Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge Twenty years ago, Sera Kuhne went tramping with her father and sister to Lake Dive Hut, perched on the...

See more... mountain neinei

Waypoints, See more

Three places to walk amongst the leathery mountain neinei Forget a cabbage tree, nikau palm or stunted beech tree; the real ‘Dr Seuss’ tree of New Zealand is the mountain...

Perfect circles

Features

Shaun Barnett goes in search of New Zealand’s best loop tracks where you finish exactly where you started and every view is different to the last Tramper’s paradise Mt Arthur...

See More... ignimbrite gorges

Waypoints, See more

Four places in the North Island to see post-eruption gorges If you spend much time tramping around the central North Island, sooner or later you’ll notice the extraordinary nature of...

See More...Hut Books

Waypoints, See more

Hut books are not just informative – they can be downright fascinating and hilarious The humble hut book is often the first thing a tramper looks through at the end...

Shades of green

Waypoints

Tauanui Valley, Aorangi Forest Park The Wairarapa’s Aorangi Forest Park often gets overlooked by trampers, who naturally are drawn to the much larger Tararua Forest Park. However, the Aorangi Range...

Hut bagger

Wild People

Mark Pickering, inspiring people into the hills through the written word When I began tramping in the mid-1980s, few tramping guidebooks existed, and there was certainly no internet to provide...

Seeing nature differently

Wild People

Craig Potton, publisher and conservationist Most trampers know of Craig Potton through his photography. The cover of Images of a Limestone Landscape (written by Andy Dennis), showing a Fox River...

See More… Cableways

Waypoints

As rivers pose one of the most formidable obstacles in the backcountry, trampers must treat them with due respect. In colonial times, death by drowning was so common it became...

No. 18 - Raft a backcountry river

The Life List

Water chooses the easiest path through rugged country, and it’s all downhill. What could be simpler than floating downstream on a raft or in a canoe? Rapids, gorges, snags and...

No. 6 - Hit the ice

The Life List

For many Kiwi trampers, visiting an ice plateau as part of a trans-alpine trip is an important goal in their outdoor career. Names like the Olivine, Bracken Snowfield, and Gardens...

See More...Totara

Waypoints, See more

Where to see this attractive, and often large, tree Trampers can easily recognise totara because of its distinctive, browny-red, stringy bark, and its spiky handshake. Unlike the caress of rimu...

Tumbling' down

Hotshot

The 370m Turnbull Thomson Falls tumble from a hidden lake, through bluffs in the Kitchener Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park, to end in these beech-fringed flats. The flats contrast with...

See More… park monuments

Waypoints, See more

Several of our national parks feature sculptures, plaques or monuments that commemorate important events. 1. Tongariro National Park Outside the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre is a large volcanic rock,...

7 tramps that are better in winter

Features

Crisp days, snow on the tops, no sandflies, fewer people, clearer air and haze-free views; winter has lots of merits. There is also the joy of your boots crunching through...

See more… watershed peaks

Waypoints, See more

Four peaks that form the headwaters of multiple rivers Mountains form the dividing point of river headwaters and it’s for that reason the Southern Alps are called the ‘Main Divide’....

See More... red beech

Waypoints, See more

A stately tree that is almost everywhere Few trampers can be so unobservant as not to know and appreciate beech trees. They are the often-stately trees that form pillars on...

See More… DOC huts

Waypoints, See more

Six great examples from DOC’s modern hut building era When the Department of Conservation was formed in 1987, building new huts was pretty low on its list of priorities. The...

Crutches in the mist

Off the Beaten Track

Some say the Bannister is the toughest crossing in the Tararuas. When you’ve got a pair of crutches strapped to your pack, they’d be right It was a familiar Tararua...

See More... sublime saddles

Waypoints, See more

Pick the conditions to visit these four saddles – you won’t regret it Where are you going on your next tramp? Why not head for a sublime saddle, somewhere with expansive...

Shelter in the hills

Features, 25th Anniversary

The hut network has never been in better shape. By Shaun Barnett Trampers of my vintage often remember the New Zealand Forest Service era with nostalgia. The NZFS built hundreds of...

See More... tawa

Waypoints, See more

Four places where you’re guaranteed to see the magnificent tawa Back in the mid-1990s, I worked for the Department of Conservation at a time when it was establishing a network...

11 trips in the Adams Wilderness Area

Wild Range

The Adams Wilderness Area straddles the Main Divide of the central Southern Alps. It’s a place of dense rainforests, fearsome gorges, high glaciated plateaus and some of the country’s most...

See more… mountain daisies

Waypoints, See more

In summer, many alpine plants bloom, adding an extra touch of beauty to alpine scenes. In the mountains, summers are relatively short and alpine plants must take advantage of the...

Volcanoes attract

Wild Range

Hauhungatahi and Te Tatau Pounamu Wilderness Areas, Tongariro National Park WHEN NEW ZEALAND’S first national park was established at Tongariro in the late 19th century, access was long and difficult, and facilities...

See more… loos with views

Waypoints, See more

The backcountry long-drop might not be the sort of place you want to spend much time; no longer than necessary anyway. But some are superbly located, and offer better views...

Welcome shade

Waypoints

Paske Hut via Paske Saddle, Rainbow Conservation Area, Marlborough  Maps are objects of wonder. You look at the depiction of rivers, peaks and passes, and try to form a picture of...

See more… lichens

Waypoints, See more

Which form of life combines an algae and a fungus? Answer: a lichen. This symbiotic union between two very different life forms provides advantages for both, enabling them to exploit...

Camping delight atop Mt Misery

Waypoints

Mt Misery Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park Each summer, hordes of trampers traipse through Nelson Lakes National Park. In recent years, many of the tracks have become increasingly popular, even...

A river runs through it

Wild Range

Raukumara Wilderness Area, East Coast The Raukumara Range is the northernmost of the long line of axial mountains that stretch from Wellington to East Cape. While the summit of its...

See more... pet themes

Waypoints, See more

Four backcountry locations named after explorers’ animals  Plenty of features in the backcountry bear the name of animals. Of many examples, here are a small number: Mad Dog Hill (Kaweka...

See more… rock outcrops

Waypoints, See more

In the whole gambit of tramping experiences, one of the most exhilarating is standing on a rock outcrop, surveying the surrounding country. It’s the sort of situation likely to make...

Into the Forgotten

Features, Off the Beaten Track

Shaun Barnett contemplates risk and failure in the ever-changing landscapes of the Olivine Wilderness It’s not the most heroic of starts for a journey to the mountains of legend. Hot....

Wily weka

Waypoints, See more

Watch your gear at these four places – there’s weka about Explorer Charlie Douglas reckoned that weka, not kiwi, should have been our national bird. He considered the flightless rail...

Delightful two

Waypoints

Youngman Stream Hut, Puketeraki Forest Conservation Area Mountain beech trees flecked with lichen rise on one ridge above the Ashley River, while tawny grasses flank the opposite bank. That’s the...

Kakabeak

Waypoints, See more

Three places to see this rare plant You probably won’t have noticed kakabeak unless you’ve seen it in flower. Only then does the small, green, shrub live up to its...

Scientific peaks

Waypoints, See more

More often than not, it’s explorers or politicians that get features named after them, while the achievements of most scientists rarely make the limelight. But New Zealand is an anomaly...

Riverside on Ruapehu

Waypoints

There’s something immensely appealing about a hut located high on a mountainside, with excellent views, beside the comforting shelter of the surrounding bush, and with the sounds of a nearby...

Beehives

Waypoints, See more

Four places to see curious mounds all going by the name beehive.  Summer has arrived, the sun is warm, the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing. Shouldn’t you...

Riverside retreat

Waypoints

In late summer, the grassy expanses of Totara Flats become a sun-baked golden brown, with the small totara copses offering shady lunch spots or sheltered camping. Several huts have graced...

Goat haunts

Waypoints, See more

Four places once the domain of the goats, now great places to explore. On Captain Cook’s second visit to New Zealand in 1773, the famous navigator released goats at the Marlborough...

A worthy destination

Waypoints

When I first started tramping in the Tararua Ranges in the late 1980s, Aokaparangi Biv had a bad reputation. It was known to be damp, poorly located and hard to...

The crossing that's not

Classic Tracks, Features

There’s no doubt that of all the Tararua tramps, the Southern Crossing is the classic – purpose-built tramping tracks don’t come much older. The crossing dates back to the early...

Water spiders

Waypoints, See more

Aotearoa is known as a land of wondrous birds, with many of them – like the kakapo and kiwi – peculiar to this country. But perhaps we should be known...

Magnificent valley-heads

Waypoints, See more

Climbing a mountain, gaining the tops, or strolling along a tussocky ridge all rank highly in most trampers’ agendas. We like expansive views, with that sense of ridge after ridge...

Perfect perch

Waypoints

The western Ruahine Range offers some exceptional tramping country, including the Pourangaki River, which drains some of the park’s highest mountains. One of the area’s most accessible huts is Kelly Knight,...

Volcanoes

Waypoints, See more, Wild Trips

New Zealand straddles two continental plates and forms part of the ‘Pacific Rim of Fire’, where volcanoes abound, eruptions and earthquakes are common, and geothermal activity ensures the landscape is...

Never too old

Wild People

Twenty years of tramping with ranger Bruce Postill Shifting to a new city is never easy, especially when you’re a tramper and the city is Hamilton. In 1993, I’d been...

Fiords

Waypoints, See more

Virtually every New Zealander knows of Milford Sound: the elegant spire of Mitre Peak,  the smoking form of the Bowen Falls, the sheer-sided majesty of a valley chiselled by glaciers...

In the shadow of Sawtooth

Waypoints, Wild Trips

By the time you’ve reached Tarn Bivouac, having either clambered up the cold, bouldery confines of the Tukituki River and Rosvalls Track, or traversed over the Sawtooth Ridge, you’ll probably...

Totara

Waypoints, See more

When tramping in regenerating fringe country, you come across them sometimes – a lichen-patterned, hoary old post that was once the strainer that held the wires to keep sheep in,...

A bunk in the beech forest

Waypoints, Wild Trips

I’m old enough to remember the original Kiwi Saddle Hut, with its rough bunks made from sacking and beech poles and its Malthoid roof. Built by members of the Heretaunga...

Wild waterfalls

Waypoints, See more, Wild Trips

Waterfalls seem to fascinate people, regardless of the fact that in a mountainous country like New Zealand, they are pretty common. Walkers like to witness the spectacle of water tumbling...

Up anchor

Rakiura Track, Features, Great Walks

For a country with tens of thousands of kilometres of coastline, it’s somewhat surprising we have so few multi-day tramps along shorelines. Only two other Great Walk feature coastal scenery...

Lake to lake

Kepler Track, Features, Great Walks

Unlike all other South Island Great Walks, the Kepler Track forms a neat circuit, where you can begin and end at the same place. Encompassing two of Fiordland’s larger lakes...

See more... World heritage sites

See more

New Zealand has three world heritage sites – areas of international natural significance. One cold day at Whakapapa Village, 20 years ago, I watched a group of local iwi perform...

Island healing

Waypoints, Wild Trips

Lying 90km from Auckland as the kākā flies, Great Barrier Island/Aotea might seem like a logical destination for local trampers. But few venture there. The main barrier to visiting seems...

Just like the South Island

Waypoints, Wild Trips

Trampers sometimes compare the Waipakihi with the tramping terrain of the South Island, and there is something of a southern quality to the valley: a river that flows languidly through...

High tops, history and huts

Classic Tracks

One of the highest roads in the North Island snakes its way from the foothills of Hawke’s Bay onto the barren mountains of the Kaweka Range. En route, it passes...

A winning combination

Waypoints

Some backcountry spots don’t boast anything that stands out. There’s not a superb view, nor a magnificent nearby mountain, but nevertheless an unexplainable combination of things can lend the place...

See more... New Zealand Dotterels

See more

They are the roadrunner of New Zealand’s avifauna: small birds that scurry, legs moving comically fast. An abrupt halt, an alert glance around, and then they’re off again, running over...

Skeleton in the harbour

Waypoints

With its many islands, accessible shoreline and relatively sheltered waters, Auckland boasts some of the country’s best sea kayaking. Perhaps one of the more intriguing destinations is the wreck of...

See more... Fabulous flats

See more

I can recall a difficult descent down Mt Aspiring National Park’s Waterfall Face, which was slippery from rain, and the enormous sense of relief at reaching level ground on the...

Auckland’s best

Waypoints

The Tawharanui Peninsula points like a finger out into the Hauraki Gulf, as if to indicate the offshore islands; Little Barrier, and the more distant outline of Great Barrier. The...

See more... Devils

Waypoints, See more

The steep, nasty, overgrown places sporting the name Devil. Given New Zealand’s often tortuous, sometimes even torturous, terrain, it’s perhaps not surprising that many more names feature ‘Devil’ in them...

See more... Lighthouses

See more

Lighthouses are an important part of New Zealand’s maritime history. Here are five of the best. There’s something unquestionably romantic about a lighthouse standing as a slender signal on an...

Great southern land

Features, Off the Beaten Track

Incongruous. We’re atop Magog, one of the great granite domes of southernmost Stewart Island, lying in the sun. Robbie Burton and Darryn Pegram snooze in the strange scoops on the...

See more… best bivs

See more

What is shaped like a dog kennel, built on stilts and best occupied only with a good friend? Bivs, bivvies or bivouacs – whatever you like to call them –...

See more… Mt Evans

See more

Why a popular Welsh name has been given to numerous mountains in the South Island. Search ‘Evans’ on the website topomap.co.nz and no fewer than 24 names pop up, including...

See more... granite

Waypoints, See more

Granite forms a distinctive feature in the landforms of several of our national and forest parks. It’s a plutonic rock, classed in the igneous group: rock that has cooled from...

See more... Rime ice

Waypoints, See more

Ice has its own language: sastrugi, needles, pancakes, hoar frost and rime are among the many forms that frozen water can assume. Rime is ice on steroids; strange formations that...

Earth Sea Sky Merino Beanie

Broken in

Used by: Roving editor Shaun ‘two hats’ BarnettUsed for: Eight years I’m always attracted to Earth Sea Sky gear because it’s made in New Zealand. Headwear is important for comfort...

See more... Corners

Waypoints

Trampers are always inquisitive about what’s over the pass, what’s beyond the ridge, or what’s around the corner I gain great satisfaction searching names on topomap.co.nz, because it throws up...

Places of the poets

See more

Mountains have always elicited a strong response from people, but not always the positive sentiments usually expressed by modern-day trampers and mountaineers. In fact, prior to the 18th century, mountains...

Remembering an inspirational tramper

Walkshorts

The outdoors community has lost one of its most important kaumātua with the passing of Arnold Heine (1926-2019), QSM, ONZM. Heine, who died in October aged 93, earned widespread respect...

Ruahine cornered

Features, Off the Beaten Track

We meet Joe Nawalaniec at the shelter, a concrete block affair named after Hawke’s Bay hunter Lester Masters. My two lads, Tom (15) and Lee (13), are disappointed not to...

DOC’s best huts

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Some of the best-located and designed huts have been built over the last 15 years by DOC. Sometimes, these new huts replaced older ones; other times they were built in...

MSR Hubba Hubba NX

Broken in

MSR Hubba Hubba NX $999Used by: Tent-lugging roving editor Shaun BarnettUsed for: Three years If you’re planning on spending lots of time on the tops in remote mountain areas, camping...

See more... Of the unknown

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Shaun Barnett finds those places whose name invokes a sense of wonder and uncertainty. The title of Geoff Spearpoint’s latest book, The Great Unknown, has a double meaning. It refers...

Review: Icebreaker Merino T-shirt

Broken in

Icebreaker Merino T-shirt $90Used by: Odour-resistant roving editor Shaun BarnettUsed for: Five years When I first started tramping, wool was dominant and I remember horrible old white long-johns that soon...

Gerard Carrington’s legacy

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Inspired by a young adventurer, Shaun Barnett finds six locations that share the name Carrington Gerard Carrington died aged just 20, but despite his youth, the young mountaineer had already made a substantial...

See more... Harper

Waypoints

Visit more places named after this pioneering Canterbury family.  Arthur Harper, often known as ‘A. P. H.’, played an important role in the development of outdoor recreation in New Zealand. Harper...

See more... Mountain ribbonwood

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Five places where you can see autumn colours in New Zealand’s evergreen forests Hikers from the Northern Hemisphere often find New Zealand’s evergreen native forests both a source of interest...

See more... forks

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The word ‘forks’ suggests a choice of routes – a convergence, a place of meeting.  In the backcountry, we use the prosaic but descriptive name for the junction of rivers, and often...

See more... silver beech forest

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How to explore the mossy majesty of a silver beech forest As you approach the bushline, the trees grow progressively more stunted, cowed by the combined effects of altitude and...

In the shadow of Ngauruhoe

Waypoints

Winter has its disadvantages: cold, short daylight, more uncertain weather. But it makes up for these deficiencies by the transforming effect of snow, by the pleasingly low angle of the...

See more... wonderful wetlands

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Wetlands serve a vitally important role as natural ecosystems. They harbour a rich diversity of native plants and animals, filter water and act as sponges which can buffer flooding. Māori...

See more… Imaginative Names

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Unusual names can provide colour and descriptive power to a feature. Who can resist a cracking good name? Names are important because they anchor us to landscapes. Names enable us...

An easy gateway to the Ruahine tops

Waypoints

Since the 1930s, there have been several different versions of Rangiwahia Hut along the tops of the Whanahuia Range, which underscores just what a superb and accessible location it is....

See more... Baldies

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Bare-topped peaks often go by the name Baldy. Here are eight worth visiting. Ageing men often suffer from thinning thatch. For the mature tramper, this might require judicious use of...