When emptying the contents of my pack at a hut or in town, a bystander or fellow hiker will usually comment on their concern for my lack of gear. “Where’s your gaiters?”, “Why aren’t you using boots?”, “Is that really your shelter?”, “Why aren’t you wearing pants?” OK that last one is a fair question but these ubiquitous questions for the uninitiated hiking-folks are a reflection of the disconnect we’ve increasingly widened between ourselves and nature.
Hiking in New Zealand is different from other hiking I’ve experienced. They even have a different term for the endeavor. Here it’s called tramping, and for good reason. The unpredictability of weather and the minimally maintained trails are a point of pride amongst the hearty Kiwis. Going out into nature is referred to as “going out into the bush”. I much preferred to think of it as “bush bashing”, irrespective of one’s opinion, tramping in New Zealand is tough.