camp­ing spe­cial

Adventure - - Contents - “ARE…………….WEEEEEEEEEE……………………….THERE………………….. YET?????????” Camp­ing, swim­ming, bis­cuit­ing, hik­ing, ex­plor­ing…..what a life?

All you need to know

By Lucy Pod­lucky I think we’ve all been there, camp­ing in ad­verse con­di­tions where you’re lay­ing in your tent with the wind howl­ing out­side and you’re hop­ing that the guy­lines on your tent are go­ing to hold or that the poles won't snap and you’ll be sent of tum­bling down the moun­tain­side. Or it’s pour­ing down with rain and you’re think­ing about, “did I set up my tent in the right lo­ca­tion, so I don’t get flooded?” or “is my tent wa­ter­proof enough? Is it go­ing to start drip­ping in­side?” I’m sure most of you have an in­ter­est­ing camp­ing story to tell.

Hav­ing grown up with ad­ven­tur­ous par­ents who tried to go on as many week­end trips or week-long trips dur­ing the school hol­i­days we sure had our share of in­ter­est­ing but fun camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

My ear­li­est camp­ing mem­ory was a road trip over the worst hill in the world, Takaka Hill. The windy, twist­ing road went on and on and on. Con­tin­u­ously ask­ing mum or dad to stop the car, so we could catch some fresh air or take in the breath-tak­ing views or just to throw up that morn­ings break­fast. That damn hill. It never got any eas­ier.

Slightly green faced we made it into the beau­ti­ful Golden Bay, the beau­ti­ful bay sep­a­rated by the Takaka Hill and from where we live in Nel­son Bay. We car­ried on with the drive, driv­ing our par­ents in­sane with the clas­sic Shrek quote my brother and I picked up “are we there yet?’ five min­utes later “are……we……there……yet?”

This would go on and on and on and on un­til our par­ents threat­ened us to walk the rest of the way (they didn’t re­ally say that but you know, some­how you have to get your kids to stop driv­ing you in­sane!!!) For sure we didn’t say much af­ter that.

We had one last hill to go, pret­tier than the Takaka Hill but just as windy was the nar­row gravel road tak­ing us the fi­nal few kilo­me­tres into To­taranui (a pop­u­lar camp­ing spot for fam­i­lies, ad­ven­tur­ers, hik­ers, kayak­ers or boat­ies alike).

Fall­ing out of the car, nau­seous, pale and over the hol­i­day be­fore it even started. I ex­plored around the Tea Tree hedges di­vid­ing the camp­ground into dif­fer­ent sec­tions. Play­ing with toys and build­ing stuff in the trees while mum and dad set up camp (thanks mum and dad!!!) These trips to To­taranui we a reg­u­lar dur­ing our young lives dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­days. And we looked for­ward to them most of the time.

As I grew older I be­came more and more in­trigued about what was hid­ing be­hind Mt Arthur (also a pop­u­lar day hike – or easy mul­ti­day hike up to the Mt Arthur Hut or more chal­leng­ing hikes de­pend­ing on your fit­ness level) which is on the eastern side of the Kahu­rangi Na­tional Park. Most hikes we did there were mainly all too the hut or slightly fur­ther de­pend­ing on how high our par­ents dragged us (not lit­er­ally) but coax­ing us higher with the temp­ta­tion of yummy home­made lunch or sour worms. And who wouldn’t want to go fur­ther with great treats like that? With great op­por­tu­ni­ties that I had grow­ing up with the Tamaha Sea Scouts to a par­tic­i­pant and vol­un­teer in­struc­tor at Whenua Iti Out­doors to High School to study­ing Ad­ven­ture Tourism at the Nel­son Marl­bor­ough In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (NMIT) learn­ing great foun­da­tional skills which led into more cu­rios­ity and I wanted to see what lay be­hind this in­trigu­ing moun­tain which I al­ways saw as a ra­zor-sharp edge ris­ing up from the fiery sky, but as I ex­plored it was like any­thing I had ever imag­ined. This be­came my play­ground for quite a few years.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sleep­ing un­der the star lit night in rock shel­ters, to nav­i­ga­tional train­ing and sleep­ing some­where in the bush. All of it was chal­leng­ing but fun.

I’ve al­ways been camp­ing with oth­ers, whether it’s a bunch of friends, fam­ily or an out­door group, there were al­ways peo­ple around which made the ex­pe­ri­ence more en­joy­able. Es­pe­cially shar­ing it with like-minded peo­ple who have a pas­sion for the out­doors.

Now the first time I ever ven­tured out by my­self (yes, I find this highly in­tim­i­dat­ing and nerve-wrack­ing). Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re think­ing, but the feel­ing of be­ing out in the mid­dle of nowhere is a great feel­ing for sure, but hav­ing been trau­ma­tised by one movie in the se­ries of Harry Pot­ter (which sounds weird, I know) but I am eas­ily fright­ened of be­ing alone at night. So now I do ev­ery­thing dur­ing the day and make sure I am in bed be­fore it’s pitch black out­side (I have got­ten slightly bet­ter, not much, just a lit­tle).

This trip was in one of the busiest Na­tional Parks, but at the time it was shoul­der sea­son, so not many peo­ple hik­ing along the pop­u­lar Abel Tas­man Na­tional Parks Coastal Track.

Most of my camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ences where when the weather was nice, so when it all of a sud­den de­cides to pour down with rain and wind gusts threat­en­ing to suf­fo­cate you in the mid­dle of the night, you start to won­der why you are out there.

Let me take you back 7 years ago, it was school hol­i­days and we had planned a long fam­ily road trip hol­i­day ex­plor­ing the South Is­land. I had just cel­e­brated my 18th Birth­day in the beau­ti­ful sea­side town of Kaik­oura the weather was nice and we had planned to drive South­ward, my mem­ory taunts me but I can’t re­mem­ber where we ended up at the end of that day, maybe some­where around Ti­maru (who knows, maybe mum would know – she’s good at that!!!)

Ev­ery­thing went well, the weather was still play­ing nice noth­ing was out of the or­di­nary, or noth­ing felt like things were go­ing to go wrong.

The day af­ter, we car­ried on to­wards the great peaks, the great peaks that are known at the back­bone of the South Is­land, the South­ern Alps. Ao­raki (Mt Cook) be­ing the tallest stand­ing high and proud among the rest at 3,724m (12,220ft). Driv­ing through the dried tus­sock lands of the Macken­zie Coun­try, the cool moun­tain air greets us as we stop in Takapo to stretch the legs. This bar­ren land­scape with snow-capped moun­tains to rolling hills of end­less tus­sock and turquoise lakes as fed by Glaciers tucked away in their moun­tain val­leys.

You def­i­nitely start feel­ing very small as you wind your way up the side of Lake Pukaki. As the val­ley walls get closer and closer to­gether and you see the hang­ing glaciers frozen but mov­ing on the sides of the high peaks, it’s as if your go­ing to drive into a wall of ice the fur­ther you get up the val­ley.

Set­ting up camp be­hind the glacial mo­raine, we planned on what was to come over the next cou­ple of days.

The next day set­ting off from camp dad and I were ready to tackle the (num­ber of steps – which I didn’t count) up to­wards Muller Hut past the Sealy Tarns. To­day was the last day of sun­shine we would have, but we didn’t have a clue of what was about to hit us. With ev­ery hike up there is al­ways a way to have to come down again, un­less we grew wings to fly down we hiked the steps all the way back down, and boy our legs felt it.

Sleep over­came any chance of con­ver­sa­tion that night whilst lay­ing snug­gled up in our sleep­ing bags, ready to dream about the ad­ven­tures we’ve had that day. Through­out the night you could hear the dis­tant rum­bles of avalanches tum­bling at speed down the moun­tains at fre­quent in­ter­vals through­out the night un­til the rain made it’s pres­ence by tap­ping on our tents. But I knew for now we were safe.

I don’t re­call what time it was but I awoke to the tent ceil­ing be­ing around 10cm above my face as the wind force­fully bat­tered our tents. It sub­sided, then it would tear up the val­ley and hit the tents over and over and over again. I had to think if I was dream­ing or if this was ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing. As much as I wanted it to have hap­pened in my dream, it was very real. It very, very much as real as it gets.

It wasn’t a dream, this was re­ally hap­pen­ing. Dur­ing the night the wind had picked up speed­ing across the lake un­til it hit our tiny wee tents flat­ten­ing them like pan­cakes. Luck­ily, I was on the wind­ward side of the tent so my brother took the full im­pact, to the point of me not be­ing able to see him as he was en­gulfed by tent fab­ric. Be­ing ex­hausted from the day be­fore, I (pre­tended) to be asleep while my poor brother fought most of the night keep­ing the tent up­right. Sorry Tim!

In the early hours in the morn­ing we packed up and left, re­assess­ing the dam­age in Wanaka. At least the guy­lines held and the tent was wa­ter­proof!!!

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