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February 2016 Issue
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No. 14 – Visit a wilderness area

Departing Fohn Lake, Five Passes Tramp, Mt Aspiring NP. Photo: Nick Groves

Setting forth into the wilderness has a distinct biblical ring to it, but for whatever reason you remove yourself from the bustle and stress of everyday life, there is nothing to compare with shouldering a pack and leaving it all behind.

And there are few countries as good as New Zealand to experience real wilderness. The country boasts nine officially recognised ‘Wilderness Areas’; land almost completely undisturbed by man-made structures, such as huts, bridges, formed tracks and the otherwise ubiquitous orange triangles or snow waratahs. Not to say you won’t come across the occasional mossy cairn or a bit of marker tape, but generally these places are fairly pristine, meaning you have to rely on all your accumulated bush and mountain skills to travel safely through them.

In such relatively remote areas, maps have to be accurately read, rivers forded where deemed safe to do so, and food, shelter and usually cooking gear has to be carried. All these elements combine to make for a memorable trip, with the added bonus that few others are likely to disturb your ‘back to nature’ experience.

Three Wilderness Areas to explore

Mt Adams, West Coast

A two to three-day tramp/climb with views from the summit into some very wild country

The Five Passes

A classic tramp north of the well-trodden Routeburn Track, skirting the Olivine Wilderness Area. No huts, formed tracks or bridges

The Paparoas

Behind the busy coastal fringe and Pancake Rocks, a dramatic range of granite peaks rise above these densely forested foothills


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