Tramping in New Zealand, Part 2

Outfitting your walk.

For tramping in New Zealand, you need some special gear to have a good hike. Here are some of my favorite tips.


  • Hike in layers. I usually tramp in merino wool baselayers because they don’t smell after you have been sweating in them for a few days. I also carry a micro-fleece top. For bottoms, get a pair of those cheesy zip-off nylon pants. Also use decent hiking socks such as merino wool.
  • Invest in a good raincoat, preferably one that is longer than hip length. Get one with Gore-tex or e-Vent waterproofing. Make sure it’s industrial strength as the NZ bush will tear it apart. As I write this, my jacket is currently being repaired in Christchurch because my pack was rubbing through the liner.
  • Good broken-in hiking boots. Again, make sure they are waterproof and have good support because NZ’s trails are hard on the feet.


  • For NZ, you probably don’t need a pack bigger than 60-70 liters, unless you carry a tent. The backcountry hut system is great. I use a Gregory Deva 60 and have been very happy with it. It’s comfortable, has lots of pockets, and I can wear it for hours without getting sore.
  • Pack liner. Never tramp without one. New Zealand’s weather changes every 5 minutes. If you have a pack liner then your stuff will stay dry during that freak rainshower.
  • Pack cover. These are not as effective as the liner, but they help protect the outside of your pack.

Other necessary gear

  • Hiking poles. They take the pressure off of your knees on the downhill portion of tracks. They are also incredibly useful for balancing on rocky trails and for measuring how deep mud is before you step in it. My first pair was sacrificed to the mud gods on Stewart Island.
  • Gaiters. These keep your socks dry when you are tramping through knee deep mud.
  •  Insect repellent. Necessary for tramps in Fiorland because of those nasty sandflies. Get something with DEET and use it.
  • Sun hat, sunscreen, & sunglasses. The sun is intense down here so be prepared for extra UV light hitting your face all day long.
  • Food. This is one time you are allowed to eat all of things you’re not supposed to. This includes lots of chocolate and power bars. Tramping burns a ton of calories and I have experienced calorie crashes in the afternoon. They are not fun. Fuel your body properly

Avoid at all costs

  • Jeans and cotton. I saw people on the Tongariro Crossing in jeans and I wanted to smack them. They are heavy and if they get wet they never dry. It’s a good way to get hypothermia.
  • Carrying too much weight. Try to keep your pack as small as possible and you will have a much better hike. I speak from experience.

Tramping in New Zealand is a great way to see the country, but do yourself a favor and prepare for it. I can’t wait to start again as soon as my raincoat is sent back.

Paul, Katie, and I get ready to tackle to NW Circuit
with the appropriate gear.

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