Image of the August 2019 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
August 2019 Issue
Home / Articles / Walkshorts

Heroes tramp through twilight years

The tramping exploits of Horton's Heroes proves age is just a number

If life experience is the measure, Horton’s Heroes may be the most experienced tramping club in the country.

First taking to the backcountry in their mid-60s, the group of up to 10 mates have tramped through their ‘twilight years’ under their leader Michael Horton.

Now all in their 80s, the senior trampers have ticked off 39 trips since the club’s inception in 1998. Their adventures have been chronicled in the book Thirty-nine Tramps by member Peter Carr-Smith.

The memoir is a celebration of the club’s accomplishments, and Carr-Smith hopes it will inspire the members’ children and grandchildren to enjoy the backcountry as they have.

“We’re just like any normal bunch of Kiwis tramping – we’ve just done it longer and at a later age than most,” he said.

The Heroes have ticked off a who’s who of New Zealand’s classic tracks since their first trek in the Abel Tasman, and they have five more planned.

“Even though we’re all getting on a bit now, we have quite big trips planned – we just have to be a bit more careful about how long we stay out each day,” Carr-Smith said.

“We’ve lost two guys over the years, but in a sense they still come with us.

“We travel as a team, and we look after each other pretty well. It’s never a race – we walk our own tracks, as a lot of people do,” Carr-Smith said.

Once at a hut, the Heroes tend to “inspect the insides of their eyelids for about an hour”, before enjoying a splash of grog and a biscuit.

Carr-Smith said the group is the talk of the track when they’re encountered by younger trampers.

“They’ve never seen anybody so old doing it,” he said.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.