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January 2014 Issue
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Don’t leave your manners behind

It’s better out than in!
Just because you’ve tramped into the wop-wops doesn’t mean you have to leave your manners behind

The first time I heard it, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d interpreted the sound correctly, or the intention behind the noise. It sounded like a fart, and perhaps it was, but had it been done on purpose? Perhaps it was merely an inadvertent pop-off, a once-off to be ignored.

But, no. I soon discovered that the farts were being let out in a purposeful manner as they became more and more frequent – and accompanied by a grin from the chap inflicting them upon the group. Before long, he had taken to waving us past him on the track and grinning at us cheerily as he let ‘er rip.

Better out than in, he said. You could cause yourself irritable bowel syndrome if you didn’t let the gas out, he argued, and continued to grin and merrily fart his way along the trail.

After he ran ahead on the track and relieved himself on it (not beside the track, but right on the track), giving us all a free view of his nether regions, and one person swore she would never return to the tramping club again after being kept awake all night by his trumpet bum, it was declared the nail in the coffin: he could no longer be tolerated on tramping trips with the group.

It felt mean, but too many non-farting, non-track-defiling trampers had said they wouldn’t go on trips with him that it seemed like the only way forward – the only way to look at the greatest good for the biggest mass.

Memories of the farting conundrum led to a discussion about tramping etiquette on a recent trip. We’d arrived late to a hut, around 11pm, and set about cooking dinner outside and preparing to make a dash into the bunks with the minimum of noise and plastic bag rustling. All my stressing about waking others up was for naught: the next day, our hut-mates said we were the quietest late arrivals they’d ever seen.

I argued that it was only common-sense to shut up when you arrive late at the hut, but others reckoned many people would just go about their business as if it were daylight and they had the right to be noisy. I’d say this is a basic tenet of tramping etiquette – so basic, in fact, that it almost goes without saying. I’d be interested to know if anyone begs to differ.

But one situation that confounded us all cropped up on a trip to Waihohonu Hut. A group of older ladies, who had, incidentally, taken great exception to seeing us hike in a bottle of wine for the night, were afflicted by tramping rage at seeing one chap cleaning his teeth in the kitchen sink. By their reasoning, he should have used the basin outside the hut.

Our group saw nothing wrong with it, but I’m now paranoid about where I clean my teeth when I’m at a hut. Should I sneak out the back with a cup of water and attend to my fangs in private, perhaps? Colour me worried.

I’d be interested to know what’s on your etiquette list when it comes to tramping. What constitutes ‘common sense’ and what is more of an unknown rule you’ve seen broken? How do you deal with persistent offenders? Email, I’d love to know.