Spuds, Flames and Tinfoil

The perfect campfire potato

S’mores, marshmallows on a stick, the weenie roast - the Americans have created a whole culture of processed foods made burnt and gooey by campfire. New Zealand’s equivalent to all of this is much, much humbler, but better for you and more subtly moreish: the tinfoil wrapped potato.

If You Can Walk...


If you can walk, you can snowshoe goes the saying. There are several ways you can enjoy the mountains year round: with skis, a snowboard, an ice axe. A pair of snowshoes adds two more.

In the Crow’s Nest

Sailing a square rigger

High above the deck, the ship looked small, like a table tennis ball bobbing in a bathtub. I felt tenuously linked to it. There was the mast made from a solid timber trunk, but that narrowed to a pinpoint by the time my eye followed it down to the hull. I was perched on a yardarm that hung out over the side of the ship, over the water.

The Best Intentions

Reading the intentions book

A sturdy hardback in solemn green, the intentions book is as much a part of tramping as crossing rivers. And while there was outrage at the replacement of roadside and DOC office intentions books with an online form, the hut books remain. For the most part they contain a simple list: party members, hut ticket numbers, and dates. All essential should someone go missing or try for a free stay.

Probably Delicious

The woodpigeon

Walking through pygmy beech trees on an exposed ridge, there is something eerie about the moss and lichen and low cloud drifting through the trees. About the quiet too, because but for the odd chirp and tweet, the forest is silent.

Slip, Slop, Slap

In praise of sunscreen

Sunscreen is magic. It's transparent, odourless, texture-less, stays on for hours, resists water and then somehow manages to stop the sun burning your skin. Forget nuclear fission, the computer and Tickle-me-Elmo, sunscreen is the most significant invention of the 20th Century.

Preached as No Preacher Can Preach

The Tararua Ranges

In 1912 the Southern Crossing of the Tararua Ranges was completed. The builders of the trail wanted tourists to flock to the region and promoted it as an ‘escape from the city’. It never quite became the Tara-vegas they had hoped, yet the crossing remains a highlight of the forest park, revered by local hunters and trampers.

A Billy of Black Tea

Going bush with Man Alone

The man is Johnson. He comes to New Zealand after the First World War. He moves around, working on farms, on boats and in a road crew. Then things turn bad and he heads for the bush, tramping through the Rangipo Desert, the area known to most Kiwis for the Desert Road, and hiding out for months in the Kaimanawa Ranges. He carries only flour, tobacco and tea, a gun and an axe.

The Hard Way

Circling and summiting Mount Taranaki

When you’re close to Mount Taranaki, walking around it for four days, you see that all those logos lie. It’s not the same smooth and symmetrical cone on the signs for the bank and the local shops, but something much more jagged and lumpy. There’s no forgetting it’s a volcano you’re looking at.

Plain and Simple

Cooking camp stove rice

Rice is an ideal outdoors food. Light weight and indestructible, it swells to three times its size when cooked. For these reasons it had the grudging respect of early New Zealand outdoorsmen.


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