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August 2020 Issue
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Social circles

Natasha Wesbonk, centre, says the price of gear can be a barrier to tramping. Photo: Matthew Cattin

One of my big regrets on returning to New Zealand from my extended OE in Europe was not joining a tramping club. It was a few years ago now and social media and other online groups like MeetUp were in their infancy or didn’t even exist (OK, it was more than a few years ago). At that time, joining a club was really my only option if I wanted to meet new people to go tramping with.

I can’t recall why I didn’t sign up, but the reason I regret not joining is that it would have been nice to broaden my tramping circle. Clubs are a great way to do this – and to safely learn skills and build up experience under the guidance of knowledgeable people who tend to be more than willing to get you started.

So I feel a bit of kinship towards the people in the feature, ‘Subscribe to outside’, who had either never been tramping before or done much of it. The story details how my colleague Matt, keen to share his love of tramping with novices, turned to Facebook to ask his friends and wider circle – i.e. complete strangers – if anyone who hasn’t been tramping before would like to join him for an overnight hike. To his surprise, he had more than 50 responses and the eight bunks he had booked at Peach Cove Hut were quickly filled up. A follow-up trip to a 12-bunk hut in Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park was equally over-subscribed.

It just goes to show how much interest there is in tramping and getting outside in general. But, as Matt notes, perceptions around the skills required and the gear needed to safely tramp can be handbrakes that put people off giving it a go. Another finding: if you’ve not previously done much tramping, finding friends or companions to go with can be another hurdle – that’s where I found myself all those years ago when returning from Europe.

I would have accepted an invitation like Matt’s if social media had been around then. And as Matt says, for every person who does tramp there’s at least another two who want to give it a go but don’t know-how. If you’ve got the spare gear and have the time and interest, you too could invite someone who has never tramped before on a fun overnighter. And, if you’ve never been, give Matt a call at Wilderness or join a club. 

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