Participants: 39 cray-cray tramping club members
Date: 27-28th July 2014
Words and images: Josie Dransfeld
You want a proper introduction to tramping in New Zealand?
Come along to Refreshers and learn one of the two most essential skills to survive the back country straight away:
How to tramp for hours in wet feet and how to do river crossings. Struck with fantastic weather yet again, this trip almost felt like ‘Bushcraft Reloaded’ since our Chief Warrior Instructor Glen finally got the opportunity to actually do some instructions, i.e. how to wade safely through knee deep and sometimes waist deep streams…Oh yes, and thank you for withholding the information that this particular river actually caused lots of deaths in the past until after we crossed it!
Captain Kate made sure that there is plenty of evidence, securing an apparently very comfy spot on a rock, taking pictures.
A 10 KM tramp on mostly flattish terrain awaited us, winding through lush native forest and the stunning Otehake Valley. At a crossroads we decided to follow the track along a lake with a weird Maori name, however, we had to venture back into the woods all too soon because that route seemed to be impassable. The other route turned out to be minor challenge as well, because some heavy rain falls and/or storms wreaked some havoc to the track. Fallen over trees, logs and massive branches blocked the way at times, it was muddy and slippery. Successfully bush-bashing our way through the undergrowth and sliding down tree logs we finally re-joined the river which we had to follow until we reached the Otehake hot pools. That last bit involved numerous river crossings again… numb, numb, numb!
And we still weren’t there although there was a slight hint of sulphur to be smelled. The poor donkey of Shrek came to mind who once screamed on the journey to a far, far away place: “Are we there yet?” – Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!
An hour or so later we finally arrived. Tents where quickly set up and the digging started to make the hot pools bigger. From this moment on, the cold and wetness were forgotten. After the hot pools heated up properly and darkness settled in, we enjoyed a relaxed, long and merry evening watching the stars, admiring the Milky Way and sipping some luxurious beverages.