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February 2016 Issue
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Wet wedding in the Eglinton

Photo: Jim Pollard

For this tramping couple, a wedding in Fiordland represents what they love most in life: the great outdoors

When Rebecca Van Amber and Dylan Hegh decided to get married, they wanted their special day to represent what they love most in life.

And being tramping obsessives – combined, they did 39 multiday trips in 2015 – where better to tie the knot than in Fiordland?

Photo: Jim Pollard

Photo: Jim Pollard

Key Summit, off the Routeburn Track, was their chosen destination. “It’s only an hour from the road, graded and achievable,” explains Rebecca. “It’s in an alpine environment and you feel on top of the world – it has the wow factor we wanted from the wedding.”

But, as every good tramper needs, they had a plan B for when the weather inevitably intervened. “The day before was perfect, the day after was perfect, but the day itself was pretty wet and windy,” says Dylan. “And because Key Summit is so exposed, it would have been miserable for everybody.”

Fiordland National Park-089

Photo: Jim Pollard

The couple – both members of Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club – decided instead to drive ten minutes down the road, where they’d scouted the Eglinton Valley as an ideal alternative. And, in typically bizarre Fiordland fashion, not only was the valley free from rain, there was also a dollop of sunshine.

The walk to the desired spot in Eglinton Valley was just a few minutes, but that didn’t stop guests heading there with packs and tramping boots. They’d all been training for the occasion.

“We advised our guests to get out and climb a few hills beforehand so they would enjoy it more,” explains Rebecca. Several relatives enjoyed a pre-wedding trip to Brewster Hut in Mt Aspiring National Park, so any walk on the wedding day would be comparatively easy.

“I hope our guests enjoyed that the wedding was quite different – I don’t know anyone else who’s done a wedding like this,” says Rebecca. “It suited our lifestyle. If you have a bigger budget you can helicopter everyone into your favourite location. But that was definitely out of our budget and we wanted the walk to be part of the experience.”

Photo: Jim Pollard

Photo: Jim Pollard

The couple felt lucky to find Jim Pollard – a photographer keen to embrace anything the Fiordland weather gods could throw at him, as well as an equallyenthusiastic celebrant, Christine Officer, who works for DOC and used to guide on the Milford Track.

“A group of friends bought us a PLB as a wedding present; one of the coolest things we’ve received,” says Rebecca. “It’s so handy to have and it came in a nice leather case with our initials on it.”

Neither Rebecca nor Dylan will be relaxing with cocktails on a beach for their honeymoon. Instead, the couple plan to spend February completing a series of multiday and overnight tramps, including trips to Lochnagar in Mt Aspiring, Ice Lake on the West Coast and Lake Browning near Arthur’s Pass. And for their first wedding anniversary, they intend to take the wedding guests to Key Summit so they can experience its wow factor for themselves.