Prepping for Your First Outdoor Adventure

Article submitted and written by Anne Foy

The rush of scaling a mountain and witnessing the breathtaking landscape beneath your feet as you reach your victory, of gazing at roaring campfires beneath a sky of stars, of plunging into the refreshing waters of a tranquil river after a long day of hiking and cycling – the joys and challenges of the great outdoors are simply unparalleled. Getting out into the open and escaping the pressures of modern life is something which everyone aspires to do, enjoying the rare chance of reconnecting with nature and experiencing the elements firsthand. For some of us, these moments are just a few steps away, while for others, finding that coveted outdoor time can be difficult, especially for starters. But preparing for your first outdoor excursion is easier than you think. Continue reading

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Steenberg Peak Hike, Cape Town

This is one of my favourite short hikes in the Silvermine area of the Table Mountain National Park, taking no more than 2 to 2.5 hours, and being suitable for those with below average to average fitness. It’s a great starter hike, too, and gives one unparalleled sweeping vistas of the Cape Flats, Constantiaberg, Table Mountain, False Bay and beyond to the mountains to the north.

As is the norm with all hikes in the Silvermine area, a camera is a must, as there’s just so much to see – the fynbos, with its vast variety of flowering plants, the wind and rain-sculptured sandstone rock formations, the many species of birds, as well as the views. A camera allows one to capture these images, and savour them many times over at a later stage, as I often do. As the song goes, “Memories are made of this”!

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Sports World, Waipukurau

Hawke’s Bay Hiking and Tramping is based in the awesome town of Waipukurau (or Waipuk, as the locals call it), in the Central Hawke’s Bay district of New Zealand. In the years I’ve lived here, I’ve met so many wonderful people, and compared to the big cities, life in a rural town is just so much richer in terms of relationships. Businesses also have a different feel about them, and relationships with customers mean so much more.

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Cecilia Forest Hike, Cape Town

hiking-southafrica-cecilia-forest-01This one’s a great introduction to hiking in the mountains behind Cape Town, is easy, but nevertheless makes for a delightful morning or afternoon’s outing, with much more than expected in the way of views, flora and fauna. Your total walking time there and back won’t be much more than 2.5 – 3 hours along excellent tracks, but with all there is to see, it will take at least twice that long to do it justice. Before you go, download a free Kirstenbosch map from www.themaps.co.za – worth it, as it’s a large place. Remember to take plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen – and don’t forget the camera! Also take some cash or a credit card for any purchases at Kirstenbosch. Continue reading

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Echo Valley Hiking Trail above Kalk Bay

Before coming to New Zealand my stamping grounds, in tramping/hiking terms, were the mountains behind Cape Town – that’s where I cut my hiking teeth, and spent many happy hours trudging the myriad of tracks which criss-cross most of them in the company of family and friends.

Hiking Echo Valley Cape Town False Bay

The first hike I ever did was as a teenager with the YMCA Adventure Club, up Echo Valley to the Amphitheatre, where we camped a night, and spent the next morning exploring some of the many caves which dot the Silvermine Mountains between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek. To be honest, I hated it, and didn’t do any more hikes until I reached my 20’s, but once the bug bit, it bit hard! I’ve done this hike many times since, and it’s almost a must-do every time I return to Cape Town for a family visit. Continue reading

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Ellis Hut Hike

The hike to Ellis hut is an easy but reasonably long one at about 5 hours return, but does offer a few variations and possibilities to make it more interesting. It is also the oldest hut in the Ruahine ranges, with a notorious history, and that alone makes a visit worthwhile!

En route to Ellis Hut, New Zealand. Old mill.To get to the start, turn west off SH50 into Wakarara Road, towards the mountains. It is a good, sealed road, which eventually becomes a good, but narrow, gravel road where it enters Parks Peak Station. Keep going (about 20km from SH50) until you get to a farm gate. Go through, and leave the gate as you found it. From here it might be rutted and pot-holed, so take care. About 500m further you’ll get to another gate – do as for the first gate, and follow the road-now-turned-into-farm-track through a third gate until you get to the car park at an information panel on the bank of the Makaroro River. This area used to be the site of Yeoman’s Mill, and there are some remnants and relics remaining, including an old, rusty boiler and a few chimney remains dotted over the paddocks. Continue reading

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Hiking to Awatere Hut

The tramp to Awatere hut is the ideal one to do when you haven’t been out in the hills for a few months, and want to get back into it. It doesn’t take more than an hour’s walking to get to, yet gives the feeling of being away from it all. It also has magnificent views, open tops, river and bush. You seldom find all these different landscapes in a short tramp, which makes this the one where you get maximum bang and enjoyment for your buck. I’ve done it numerous times, and never get bored! Continue reading

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Trio of Tramping Tracks

If you’re passing through Central Hawke’s Bay on your way north or south, or visiting friends or family, there are three lovely short walks/tramps in the area that are well worth doing. They are all fairly close together, and will occupy no more than a morning or afternoon, including a stop for coffee along the way. An average or moderately fit person should have no trouble doing all of them in one go.

The best place to start your journey is from Waipukurau, as the first reserve, Lindsay Bush Scenic Reserve (also known as the Tukutuki Reserve), is only 5 minutes out of town. To get there, take the Hastingsroad (SH2) north, and immediately after crossing the bridge over the Tukituki River, turn left into Lindsay Road. Keep going until you arrive at a t-junction, turn left into Scenic Road, and follow this until you arrive at an entrance way by a stop-bank. Turn right on the stop-bank and the car park is just 200m further on, on the left. Continue reading

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Hiking Safety in New Zealand

Most of the time the hike you’ve planned works out fine, with few issues or problems. However, sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s the time you need to rely on what you’ve learned in all the years before. This happened to me and four friends on our last hike into the Ruahine Ranges.

My co-organiser and I had been talking about it for a while, and both of us felt like visiting a hut we had not been to before. We’d discussed another hut (Parks Peak), which required some distance to travel to. Personally I did not want to travel far, so pored over maps of the Ruahine Ranges to look for huts closer to home which might fit the bill, and could be done as an overnight hike. My eye fell on Leon Kinvig hut, and immediately I thought, hmmm, looks do-able! Got the magnifying glass, and studied it in detail. The distance looked about 9km one way, which I reckoned we could do in 5.5 to 6 hours comfortably. Ran it past my friend, and we agreed to give it a go. I sent the usual email around the mailing list, asking for interested persons to let me know. Continue reading

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Poutaki Hut – a lesser known hiking trail

Most people haven’t heard of Poutaki Hut – as a result it’s not often visited, and is mostly used by hunters. The fact that the track to the hut is not marked on the map may have something to do with that.  It’s the only hut on the Wakarara Range, and is not difficult to get to. It is a hidden gem, however, and well worth visiting. The added bonus is that when the main Ruahine Range is covered in cloud, or inaccessible due to weather, often the Wakarara Range is not! And don’t forget the camera… Continue reading

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