Top 10 Tips to Keep You Safe on the Trails
New Zealand and adventure are somewhat synonymous with one another. Our country is rapidly becoming one of the top-rated hiking destinations in the world and for good reason. However, with the influx of travellers coming to hike/tramp our trails, it’s easy to become complacent about safety out in the backcountry. New Zealand weather is renowned for having a mind of its own and just because we don’t have polar bears and pumas running loose in the bush, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your wits about you. For instance, not all of our river crossings on trails are bridged and we can’t emphasis enough how important wearing the right clothing is. Here are some essential tips compiled by New Zealand Mountain Safety Council to keep you safe on the trails.
*If you’re travelling with us on a New Zealand Trails tour, we’ve got you covered when it comes to keeping you safe out there!
1. Check the weather forecast but be ready for any weather as the weather is very changeable in New Zealand. MetService is a great resource for forecasts.
2. New Zealand is green because of the amount of rain we get. And the rain soaks through everything! It can happen at any time, so you'll see that New Zealanders always carry a waterproof jacket with them on any walk, even if only a few hours long. Test your jacket before you go so that you know you will not get wet.
3. Despite having the best waterproof jacket, water can still get through making your layers underneath wet or damp. Make sure that these layers still keep you warm when wet. We suggest clothing made from merino or synthetics such as polypropylene. As they say "Cotton Kills" so never take anything made from cotton as when wet it makes you even colder and could cause hypothermia.
4. Having a sturdy pair of boots will help reduce the likelihood of ankle injury if you trip or slip. Make sure to break them in with some easier hikes near home before relying on them on your main journey.
5. Make sure to eat high energy food and carry more than you'll expect to need. Your body will be requiring more fuel on your hike, so it's not the time to go on a diet!
6. Walking poles are very beneficial. They will help your body absorb a long day on the trail. Especially on long descents.
7. Talk to each other. Support and check in on everybody. Even the stoics!
8. Know about the track beforehand. Take a look at the maps and discuss it with your group. Leave yourself plenty of time to do the track. If it’s a full-day hike, we even recommend heading out on the trails in time for the sunrise! A handy tool for planning your route can be found here by our friends at the Mountain Safety Council.
9. Really think about those forks in the trail. Discuss them with your group. If there are stragglers this is a very good place to wait and have a snack.
10. Make sure that you know when to avoid getting in the water to cross a river.
For more resources on keeping safe out there, check out the Mountain Safety Council.