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Getting your long weekend outdoors fix in lockdown

Got a stack of outdoor photos that need to be processed? Now's the time to rename them and process them to bring out their best qualities. Photo: Shaun Barnett
Cabin-fever looms, when what you really want is time in a hut … ah, the irony.

Being confined to your home and the immediate vicinity is not what any outdoor enthusiast wants long-term. But health considerations in this global pandemic must come before any personal aspirations, and we all have a role to play ensuring we follow the rules.

And perhaps some time at home can provide an opportunity to catch up on things we never otherwise have time for. Here are some ideas to help keep you sane.

Armchair adventuring

Indulge your outdoor craving with a bit of armchair adventuring. If your own shelves are sparse, libraries have many e-books and audio books available.

Also check out the Radio New Zealand archive, which has a lot of material related to the outdoors. Catch up on Kennedy Warne’s Off the Beaten Track podcast, or listen to Lydia Bradey reading her autobiography, Going Up is Easy.

The Wild Podcast by Andy McDonald and Jonathan Carson features interviews with many prominent outdoors personalities, including Bradey, Geoff Spearpoint, Brando Yelavich, Dulkara Martig, Craig Potton and Neil Silverwood.

Virtual hut bagging

Tramper Jamie Connor has created a fully searchable database of all the huts in the New Zealand backcountry, including past iterations of those long gone. Join up for free and check out how many huts you’ve bagged.

Nature swot

Start learning more about nature. The Te Ara website has some great resources, and there are plenty of other more detailed websites.

Gear Care

Do that overdue gear clean-up: wash the pack, scrub the boots and re-waterproof your rain jacket. Clean the stove of soot, and unblock the jet. Here’s the Wilderness guide on how to care for your gear

Start an outdoor diary

List all the trips you can remember doing, which year, who you were tramping with, and what was memorable.

Caption past photos

Whose hard-drive doesn’t have a huge backlog of images from past trips that remain uncaptioned? A file name of ‘P12345’ means nothing now and even less in the future. Any decent caption should list the names of those featured, the location, and the year the picture was taken.

Process photos

Why not learn some new skills? Most digital photographs can be improved, sometimes vastly, with simple processing. Adobe Lightroom is designed for photographers, and it’s relatively easy to learn the basics, with plenty of free online tutorials.

Practise tiring knots like the figure eight knot. Photo Shaun Barnett/Black Robin Photography

Ideas for kids

Teach your children some climbing knots and belay techniques. Any old piece of rope will do. Basic knots include a clove hitch, Italian hitch, figure eight, double fisherman and the bowline.

How about reading aloud an outdoor-themed book by a New Zealand author, like Barry Crump’s Wild Pork and Watercress, David Hill’s Take it Easy or Philip Temple’s Beak of the Moon.

Find outdoor challenges at websites like Wild Eyes, where there are more than 15 backyard missions ranging from building a bivi to faking a giant moa discovery.

Set your tent up in the garden or living room and take a photo for the Wilderness Lockdown Last Weekend special. Email your pic to lastweekend@lifestylepublishing.co.nz – every pic published gets a free emergency blanket worth $20.

Adapt your Monopoly set along the lines of Ricky French’s ‘Tararua Tramping Monopoly’, perhaps with a wider geographic spread. Park Lane and Mayfair could become New Zealand’s premier Milford and Routeburn Tracks, while Whitechapel and Old Kent Road become Table Mountain (Coromandel) and the Arete Forks Track (Tararua) – two of our worst tracks.

Make up an album

If you have access to a printer, make a trip album. Or perhaps create a digital album to send to tramping companions. That way you can stay connected, and relive past trips.

Better trip beta

Read past issues of Wilderness, or browse the website for inspiration, and make a wish list. Find out about local walks and reserves you may not have visited.

Start a backyard project

Perhaps think about ridding your section of pests. Make a wooden housing for a rat trap, or establish a bird feeder.