Image of the August 2018 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
August 2018 Issue
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Fire-lighting

Getting good airflow is crucial to a roaring fire. Photo: Ray Salisbury
There’s nothing quite like the comforting glow that emanates from a well-stoked fire.

Whether it’s in the open or inside a woodstove in a backcountry hut, here are a few tips to ensure you get it right first time.

Check before you light

On average, New Zealand loses one backcountry hut each year to fire, and bushfires are a common occurrence. Check for a fire ban in the area before leaving home, and don’t assume that just because there’s an existing fire pit that it’s okay to light up.

Check the airflow

Every fire needs oxygen to thrive. Creating a tepee or pyramid shape with your wood ensures adequate oxygen intake by preventing the wood from smothering the flame. In the case of an indoor woodstove, you may need to experiment with the vents and opening the door a smidge to get the oxygen level right.

Gather your wood first

Start with a large stack of wood, then you won’t risk a fledgeling fire dying while you’re hunting for kindling. Dry wood burns best. If it’s raining, look for dead wood hanging in trees, as it’s less likely to be damp.

Get a helping hand

You could spend hours rubbing sticks together – or you could pack a little something to help your fire along. A candle stub, a piece of bicycle inner tube or a solid fuel tablet will all burn long enough for kindling to catch.

Leave it better than when you arrived

Before leaving, always ensure a fire is fully out and the ashes are cold. Restore the fireplace to its original condition and replenish any wood you’ve used from the hut’s supply. 

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