Home / Articles / Great Walks

Get ready for your Great Walk

Image of the September 2021 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
September 2021 Issue

To make the most of your Great Walks adventure, get your gear and your body in good working order.

So, you’ve sorted the booking, what about the actual tramping? Some Great Walks are harder on your gear than others – imagine three days of rain on the Milford – and equally as tough on your body (are you ready for the near 80km length of the Heaphy, or the steep climbs on the Routeburn and Kepler?). 

Here’s your Great Walks checklist.

Is your gear up to scratch? 

Many of us have tramping boots, a rain jacket and a tramping pack from years past, but when was the last time they saw serious use? Check out DOC’s Great Walks website pages and see the ‘What to Take list specific to each walk. Then get your gear out and have a look. Does anything need to be upgraded? If you’re not sure, try using it on day trips before depending on it for a multi-day tramp.

Get walking! 

The best way to get ready is to start walking. You need both frequency and hills. Squeeze in 30-60 minutes (or more!) walks two to three times a week, on lunch breaks, before work or after days end. Add a bit more challenge, by doing laps on stairs. 

Mix it up 

You need to get off the footpath and onto uneven ground. Try to get at least one walk a week on local trails. Work your way up to longer and steeper walks. Build up until you’re doing walks of 5-7hr duration at least once a week. Depending on the terrain and how steep the walk is, it should be about 10-15km in length. Use the shoes or boots you will tramp in – it’s the best way to know they are a good fit.

Double the challenge

Do a couple of back-to-back longer trail walks. Start getting your body used to the feeling of daily long walks. If you have limited options, just walk the same track two days in a row. Gain more benefit by carrying a pack with extra weight in it – bottles of water easily add kilos. Start figuring out which snacks and how much water you might want to carry for those long days.

Do an overnighter 

The best way to get tramping fit is to go tramping. Tramping fitness isn’t just about long days or difficult terrain. It’s also about carrying a full pack, bringing and carrying enough gear for the weather, knowing how to read a map, managing your time to get between places and having the right snacks to fuel you. So fill your pack with the full set of gear you’ll take on your Great Walk, select a local overnight tramp and see how tramping fit you and your gear are.