Archives For walking

Here’s a short, sweet, and perhaps surprising, statistic from DOC’s latest annual report:

14,000 km of track supported by DOC. Enough to walk from Wellington to Washington D.C.

Truth be told, that’s not short at all! But it certainly would be sweet to have the chance to walk it all. Who’s up for the challenge?

Learn more on the DOC website:

Tracks and walks

DOC’s Annual Report for year ended 30 June 2013

By Angeline Barnes, Community Outreach Coordinator

In today’s busy world, it is too easy for me to make excuses as to why I don’t get out into the great outdoors as often as I would like to.

Angeline and Janna standing at the beginning of Sunrise Track.

Getting ready to take on the Sunrise Track

A few weeks ago, a group of us took the plunge. Leaving behind our flat whites, we made our way up to Sunrise Hut—a fabulous modern hut perched high on the hills of the Ruahine Forest Park. This hut was no draughty tin shack; it was warm (insulation really works) had triple bunks, a fire, great cooking facilities and was the perfect place to hit the ‘reset’ button.

A section of the Sunrise Track.

The track was an easy gradual climb and well maintained

Our route up was an easy gradual climb on a wide and well maintained track—a perfect width for chatting as we walked. Surrounded by trees, the warmth of the autumn sun and the chirp of our native birds, we seemed to reach the top quickly. As we approached the hut, the vegetation changed (sub-alpine) and my imagination went into overdrive, I was walking in the enchanted forest, just like the fairy tales I read as a child.

Angeline and Jane being told about the native plants along the track.

Learning about native plants along the way

And if ever there was a hut that’s name was appropriate, it is Sunrise Hut. Usually I struggle with early mornings, but the temptation to watch the sunrise over Hawke’s Bay was enough to force me out of bed—a decision I don’t regret. The view was spectacular and I felt like I was on top of the world.

Sunrise Hut.

This hut was no drafty tin shack

Was my night away enjoyable? Yes. But a better word would be AMAZING. The questions is, why don’t I do this more often?

sunrise-at-sunrise-hut

The sunrise over the Hawke’s Bay was amazing!

Watch this video of Angeline’s trip to Sunrise Hut:


Related links:

In April, 11-year-old Summer Jubb tackled the mighty Kepler Track in Fiordland National Park after her family won the experience as part of DOC’s involvement in the Venture Southland campaign.

Summer and her dad conquered the whole track in some challenging weather. Her mum, Mel, plus younger sisters, 9-year-old Poppy and 6-year-old Bella, met up with them at Luxmore Hut and Moturau Huts during their adventure.

Summer writes:

Let me tell you about my experiences on the ridges and valleys of the Kepler Track.

Summer on the Kepler Track with mountainous peaks.

Summer high up on the Kepler Track

The first day was so much up hill — it just kept going up, up, up. About three quarters of the way up there were limestone boulders. They were so high and huge that it made me feel very small.

Summer Jubb and her family walking through bush on the Kepler Track.

Walking, up, up and up!

The bearded forest (that’s what we called it) was amazing— there were drips of moss hanging off the trees that looked like a beards.

When we finally got to Luxmore Hut we were exhausted, but we still had enough energy to go for a 10 minute walk to the Luxmore Caves. They are amazing! Then I found out that food is really, really good when you are cold and hungry.

Jubb family photo by a DOC sign on the Kepler Track.

Family photo on the Kepler Track

I think the second day was the best. It was first up hill then in the alpine and ridges of the mountains. I loved the part when you are on the top lookout, when you can see everything below you. When there is an hour and a half to go it is all down, down, down. There are 97 switch backs and 24 stoat traps to count along the way. Finally there was Iris Burn Hut. There is a river just by the hut that you can go swimming in, it is quite cold though. As well as the river there is an amazing waterfall that’s 20 minutes away from the hut.

Summer high up on a ridge along the Kepler Track.

Along a ridge on the Kepler Track

Thankfully, the third day is all flat. There were these gorgeous purple mushrooms along the way. At Moturau hut there is a lake that is just warm enough to swim in and cool down your feet.

A misty valley on the Kepler Track.

A misty valley

I loved all my experiences on the great four day walk known as the Kepler Track. It was awesome to do with my family.

By Rebecca (Becs) Gibson, DOC Community Relations Ranger, Great Barrier Island

Walking festivals are becoming increasingly popular, so it was no surprise that the recent inaugural Great Barrier Island Walking Festival was a great success.

The walking group heading to Whangapoua beach.

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the beach we go. Wild and windy Whangapoua

As this was our first walking festival, and due to our remoteness, we decided to start small and limit numbers. Despite this, people came from all over: New Caledonia, Australia, Te Wai Pounamu and, of course, Raetihi 🙂

Eight walks were offered over the three day weekend, ranging from full day tramps to shorter learning expeditions.

Walkers enjoy the view from Hirakimata Mt Hobson.

Walkers enjoy the view from Hirakimata Mt Hobson on the Over the Top walk

Hosts were allocated for each walk, and accompanying the groups were subject experts and ambassadors, including local iwi representatives, Auckland Council and DOC staff, café owners, fire fighters, ecology professors and historians, who all volunteered their time to give the visiting walkers an experience ‘one step beyond’.

A banded rail.

Unique wildlife encountered, banded rail

Aotea Great Barrier Island is an oasis for travellers; a replenishing place and a site that reflects human history as old as the name Aotearoa itself.

Walking group looks at rata species in  Windy Canyon.

Subject expert, Simon Cook, describes the unique rata species in
Windy Canyon

One walker said that the Great Barrier Island Walking Festival ‘has been a real eye-opener’ and that was on day one – we were just getting started!

The richness of the experience, the wonderful scenery and unique wildlife had many expressing they would be coming back for more.

The view from the top of Great Barrier Island.

Great Barrier Island walks – ‘one step beyond’


Great Barrier Island Walking Festival

The Great Barrier Island Walking Festival was funded by Auckland Council’s Local Board with DOC assistance.

The Great Barrier Island Walking Festival is a three-day walking experience that will leave you wanting to come back for more. Walk through spectacular scenery, learn about the local mining and whaling history, walk with subject experts and take away wonderful memories. For more information visit the Great Barrier Walking Festival website.

Olivia is 9 years old and lives in the Fiordland area. She writes about her recent trip to the Lake Howden Hut on the Routeburn Track.

Olivia and her brother on the Routeburn track.

Enjoying all the Routeburn has to offer

I liked going to stay at Lake Howden Hut. On the walk up the hill there were lots of water falls and big rocks. We had a drink of the water, saw a kaka bird and had a close look at the ferns. Some big trees were over the track that we had to go under like a tunnel.

At the hut there was a lot to do. We played in the lake and made a dam so we could have a pool, but the water was too cold. We found big rocks to climb and a stage to do our gymnastics and ballet on.

Liam standing on a rocky hill on the Routeburn Track.

Liam on top of the world

We had pasta for dinner, then milo and chocolate biscuits for supper. We played cards before going to bed.  We all wanted the top bunks but there were plenty of them so there were no fights. We played with our torches and in our sleeping bags, it was fun with everyone there.

Howden Hut on the Routeburn Track.

Our Howden Hut home

The next day we walked to Key Summit, it was amazing. It is a beautiful place, even the climb up was ok! But my legs did get a bit sore.

Olivia reading an information post along the Routeburn Track.

Learning about the alpine environment.

There was information on the different plants. Liam, my brother, was our tour guide and led the way around the track. We went across bogs, around tarns and up to the top.

On the way home it was all downhill. We talked about the next track we wanted to do, maybe the Kepler or Hollyford Track?

The girls on the Routeburn Track.

What track will we conquer next?

My good friends Jenny and Steve were avid trampers BC  (before children) but didn’t attempt an overnighter as a family until Meg was five.

Their first trip – into Magdalen Hut, in St James Conservation Area – was absolutely fabulous said Jenny – and Meg had good things to say about it too!

Jenny Christie and Meg Baker. Photo: Steve Baker.

Mum Jenny and Meg at the start of their first overnight tramp!

Jenny’s story

Meg had lots of day walks under her belt before our first tramp. We’d been up to Packhorse Hut and back, with minimal carrying and complaining, so we knew she could walk for at least three and a half hours.

So, despite threatening rain we set off – walking  up the Boyle Valley, conjouling Meg along the way with pikelets.

Meg carried her own pack, with her soft toy and a jacket.  A  couple of hours in, we took the pack off her, just to get her through that last stretch.

Meg walking along the track her friend Tahi in her backpack. Photo: Steve Baker.

Meg with friend Tahi in her backpack

We thought the swing bridges might be a problem – we wondered if she would be scared, but she wasn’t at all. If we sensed impending ‘scaredness’ we talked about how exciting it was and how brave she was being.

Meg crossing a river on a swingbridge; Photo: Steve Baker.

Meg bravely traverses her first swing bridge!

There was also a washout before the hut, and we had to a climb a steep bank. Again, we didn’t give her a chance to be scared but kept her moving, with motivating words and promises of more pikelets.

We didn’t take a tent, which was a bit risky. I would recommend one, just in case the hut is full, or so you can stop on the way if you need to cut the trip short. But the stars aligned over Magdalen Hut and we had it to ourselves. With its sunny little deck, six bunks, and double-glazed windows, it’s a really nice modern DOC hut, perfect for families.

When we got to the hut Meg was pretty excited to find a little house in the forest. We ate chocolate and played Uno, which was a great game to bring along, very compact. Travel Scrabble would work well too.

Meg and her Dad Steve inside Magdalen Hut. Photo: Jenny Christie.

Dad Steve and Meg inside Magdalen Hut

After tea we all went to bed at the same time. Meg patted my head as she went to sleep, as she was concerned because it was so dark. The platform bunks meant I could be nearby to reassure her.

We got up in the morning and ate porridge for breakfast – with brown sugar as a treat!

The trip out from the hut was easier, as Meg knew what to expect. We played ‘all around the world’ again … and again … it’s amazing how long that game can last.

Jenny and Meg on the track. Photo: Steve Baker.

Tramping is fun! Big smiles all around while Meg and Jenny tramp

It was really good to do this trip as a family. We felt like we’d rediscovered our old life again and we were pleasantly surprised how much Meg could do. We could see a whole world of adventures opening up to us. Roll on summer!

Meg says:

  • “The bit that I liked the best was when we played Uno and I won and we played three rounds.”
  • “I liked when we went over the swing bridge – it felt scary, but wobbly and fun.”
  • “I’d like to go tramping again because it was fun and because I got to go over a swing bridge for the very first time.”
Steve and Jenny on the track. Photo: Meg Baker (5).

Mum and Dad by Meg Baker!

Find child/family friendly activities on the DOC website

 
Anyone who has done the Tongariro Alpine Crossing can relate to marvelling at the sheer beauty and scale of the landscape—wondering why the Red Crater is red, the Emerald Lakes are just so and whether the hot ground under your feet is likely to erupt.

So, to answer these, and many other questions, DOC has partnered with a Turangi-based community group, Project Tongariro, to create the Pocket Ranger—a free smartphone application set to transform the way visitors to Tongariro National Park get their information. 

The Pocket Ranger provides mapping, interpretation, and safety messages for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, as well as providing information about the local area, including accommodation, activities, transport, guiding and dining.

Taupo nui-a-Tia Area manager Dave Lumley telling tales about the crossing high above the Emerald Lakes

It has been developed so that it can be used as a ‘template’ that can be easily adapted for use in other great walks, national parks, cycle ways and mountain biking tracks. This means other organisations can take advantage of the research and financial investment that DOC and Project Tongariro have made, including licensing the technology, and won’t have to build an app. from scratch.

QR code for the Pocket Ranger

The latest version of the app. has video clips for each section of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and includes a Quick Response (QR) code reader. QR Codes will be placed on existing track markers, at points of interest along the way (e.g. the Red Crater) and, when scanned, the QR Code will lead users directly to the information or story relating to that point of interest.

Further development is being investigated in terms of GPS capabilities, more detailed mapping, and the ability to perform a ‘check in’ at the start of the track for safety.

Capturing the stunning landscape of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Check it out at www.tongariro.org.nz/pocketranger and let us know what you think!