Camping Out

Mount Somers Conservation Area, late December

We wanted to squeeze in a short tramp between Christmas and New Years while we were all in Christchurch for the holidays. At around three hours, the walk to Woolshed Creek Hut in the Mount Somers Conservation Area fit the bill. It was summer, the days were long, and we knew it was an easy walk, so we took our time getting out there.

You're in it

A storm at sea

The captain and expedition leader suggested we stay in our rooms and read, the storm due to last for a couple of days. Up until that point we’d had uncannily good weather, sunny days and mild winds, perfect for watching albatross and petrels glide over the waves. Now it seemed we had crossed over some invisible barrier into another sea.

Other Goody-Goodies Involving Nuts

Making the perfect scroggin

You could write an entire book on the various names for what we call scroggin. Admittedly it would make for a boring read, but it would have one clear theme: this stuff has been around for ages, eaten in umpton different places with just as many different names. For the Americans it’s trail mix or gorp, for the Germans it’s Studentenfutter. Bwyd Dewey is the Welsh.

Starboard or Larboard

Learning to sail the hard way

And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then

Leonard Cohen

I thought of arriving at tropical islands, cocktails on deck, my hands on the wheel as the ship coursed through the ocean. What I didn’t think of was the terror, not of storms and rogue waves, but of learning something new.

The Drowned Valleys

Paddling the Marlborough Sounds

There is always water.
Every track, half-road or hilltop
Throws a view of the labyrinthine
Seeping and effortless sea
Undulant, insidious, creeping
Round hill and promontory

Denis Glover

A Quality Snooze

Tips and techniques for a good night's sleep

After a days walking, it’s the simple things that matter: food, shelter and sleep. We arrived at our hut late one afternoon, looking forward to all three, only to find it was already occupied by a group of hunters. There were four of them, three of us and six bunks. One of us was going to have to sleep on the floor. We drew straws. It would be me.

Collect the Set

Remembering New Zealand’s Nature Heritage

How many school projects owed their existence to New Zealand’s Nature Heritage? A mid 70s part series - covering everything from fossil penguins to podocarps, from scree slopes to sea dragons of the Mesozoic, they must have been a godsend for kids approaching their homework deadline in that pre Wikipedia age.

Whiskers of Honey Dew

Up close with the Beech Scale Insect

I started my tramping career down south, in the Canterbury foothills, Arthur’s Pass, Mount Somers. So many of those tramps always had a similar start, walking for hours through forests of gnarled trees, their trunks tar black with a little whisker of nectar. For a long time I thought this is what the bush was, that all it was that same carbuncled beech. I even began to get a little bored.

Endeavour and Adventure

An interview with Shaun Barnett

For almost 20 years Shaun Barnett has made his living from writing and photographing New Zealand’s wild places, a career built on his own love of the bush and mountains. He has written best-selling tramping guides, an introduction to New Zealand’s natural history and, together with Rob Brown and Geoff Spearpoint, a history of backcountry huts.

An Excellent Substitute

Edible plants from the New Zealand bush

I have often daydreamed about being lost in the bush, having to live off the land like a pioneer explorer or the less offensive, Bear Grylls. As I pass by all the kawakawa, totara, ponga, and countless other plant species I do not know the names of, I wonder about all the potential meals to be had in a time of need. If only I knew what was good eating.


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