New Zealand Trails Newsletter January 2014
• Our most random hiking encounter of 2013
• New Zealand Hiking tips - the best material for outdoor clothing
• Travel deals - Earlybird offer extended until 31 January
Happy New Year from New Zealand!
Unbelievably another year has passed and we all find ourselves buying new diaries and calendars while we wonder what happened to 2013. We hope the year was a fruitful one and that 2014 will be safe and prosperous for you, your loved ones and communities. For many of you reading this, 2014 will be the year you make your New Zealand travel dream come true - one of the most rewarding aspects of planning and leading New Zealand walking tours is helping people realize these travel dreams. Many guests tell us that coming to New Zealand is literally their trip of a lifetime, something we feel very privileged to be a part of and take this responsibility very seriously.
For us at New Zealand Trails, 2013 was a very big year as we launched our new 'World Heritage Hiking Tour' after over a year's hard work and preparation. The first trips have gone really well and guests tell us they are loving the mix of guided hiking, activities and comfortable accommodation on our small group adventure through the natural wonderland that is the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.
In our first newsletter for 2014 we'd like to start with something lighthearted, our 2013 winner for 'most random encounter while hiking' prize. Our hiking quick-tip is all about the wonder fabric that has revolutionized outdoor clothing, Merino wool. We'd also like to offer all our subscribers a belated Christmas gift with a travel deal to start the new year. January and February is the busy season for us and we are looking forward to meeting and travelling with many of you over the next few months. If you'd like to follow our progress and see daily images and photographs from our trips be sure to follow us online.
Feb 2014 Update: We do still have space available on our February tours and have a new travel deal for these dates so if you're still thinking about a New Zealand walking tour to start your year then please get in touch now.
For those of you joining us on trips soon, we are looking forward to seeing you soon and to all of you, Happy New Year!
Andrew Wells and the New Zealand Trails team.
The winner of the 2013 'Most Random Encounter while Hiking' is: Live saxophone accompaniment while hiking at Castle Hill
Walking in New Zealand's national parks for the past 14 years or so, I have seen quite a few surprising sights, mostly of the natural variety such as rare native birds or weather events showcasing the full power of nature. On a recent trip though we saw something which I had never come across before - a Polish gentleman riding a bicycle playing the saxophone on a walking track. It was the first day of our tour, guests and I were stretching our legs on our short hike at Castle Hill in the Canterbury High Country when coming the other way down the track we encountered a dapper looking gentleman riding an old bicycle playing the saxophone! He was dressed the part and had even set up a portable speaker on his bike to complete the effect.
Naturally we started chatting and it turns out he was very keen to make some music on the top of the limestone rocks that Castle Hill are famous for but didn't know the way. I explained the best route for him to do this, but of course he had to leave the bicycle behind. We went on our way discovering these amazing rock formations and when we arrived at the lookout were greeted by our friend playing a rendition of 'Careless Whisper' in the natural ampitheatre of Castle Hill! Not something you see every day and certainly one story for friends and family back home. Needless to say we applauded heartily and he obliged our calls for an encore.
New Zealand Hiking tips - The perfect material for all seasons: Merino Wool
My first outdoor experiences were in the seventies and eighties as a boy scout and I can remember being so excited about my first 'bush shirt' and 'thermals' which were the state of the art garments for keeping warm and dry in those days. Back then, little thought was given to comfort and none at all to appearance. I well remember getting very hot, sweaty and stinky on early outdoor trips but this was accepted as how it was, no complaining allowed of course. It goes without saying that our tramping (as we call hiking here in NZ) gear was packed away until our next trip away, there weren't multi purpose garments that we wore around the house or into town in cold weather.
Fast forward a few decades and how things have changed. When I started working as a hiking guide on the Routeburn Track in 1999 I kitted myself out with the usual synthetic thermals and fleeces plus one item of a relatively new fabric called Merino Wool. I quickly realized that this was better than any other material I had ever used and over the next few years all my old gear was gradually replaced by merino.
Five reasons to use Merino wool:
- Merino keeps you warm but dry as it draws moisture away from the skin. The fine fibers trap your body heat more efficiently than other types of wool and prevent overheating too.
- Merino garments are extremely light. All important for hikers, you can be prepared for any change of weather without overloading your pack.
- Merino garments feel fantastic. The wool is the finest and softest around so it feels great next to your skin. This is probably the biggest benefit for me, after years of scratchy uncomfortable thermals, the silky feel of merino is bliss.
- Merino doesn't smell bad after exercise. Amazing but true, as it's a natural fibre that breathes you can wear merino for a couple of days in a row without smelling stale, try that with a synthetic garment!
One further benefit I would add is that modern merino garments look great too, when we're enjoying dinner back in town after a great day's hiking you don't look like you've just come in from a day's work on the farm. If you do pick up some Merino on your trip to New Zealand it will become your go-to clothing for any outdoor activities and you'll love wearing it at home in wintertime too.
Here are the three Merino tops I carry with me on every hiking trip:
Other merino items I recommend and one I actually avoid:
I always keep a merino skullcap in my backpack, it's so small and light I don't even know it's there until I need it. Merino gloves are great too, the possum/merino fabric is so soft. I did try a pair of Merino socks once and while they felt good and were very warm, I did notice that with the amount of walking I do they didn't last long. One drawback of a natural fabric is that it's not as durable as some synthetic materials and I noticed that my merino socks wore through quite quickly so for this reason I do use wool / synthetic blend walking socks.
Travel deals for Trailmates
2014/2015 Earlybird Special extended until 31 Jan
There was lots of interest in our 2014/2015 earlybird booking special, right up until the 31 Dec with guests locking in this season's prices for next season's trips. We realize that the Holiday Season is such a busy time of year and some of you may not have had the time to do this by 31 Dec so we'd like to extend this offer until the end of this month:
2014/15 Earlybird Travel Deal: We have released our 2014/2015 tour dates now and for a very limited time would like to offer our current 2013/2014 season tour price to anyone booking and paying a deposit on a 2014/2015 season walking tour departure. Our prices will be going up next season but you can guarantee your 2014/15 New Zealand walking tour at this season's price by booking this month. This deal has been extended until on 31 January 2014 so don't miss out.
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