BUNACer Emily Davies, 28 from Suffolk, tells us all about her amazing 'TRAMPING' adventure while on the Work New Zealand programme!
While travelling New Zealand, I was advised by my Kiwi friends that I mustn't leave the country until I had taken part in the true New Zealand experience of TRAMPING. Being an outdoors-type-of-girl, I was more than up for the adventure, so while enjoying a road trip around the South Island with my boyfriend, we decided to stop over in Westport for the night as a base for starting the Heaphy Track.
The Heaphy Track is one of the county's 'Great Walks', taking four to six days to complete and teasing you through 82km of the Kahurangi National Park. People come from all over the world to take to these 'Great' tracks and I felt excited about embarking on a new outdoors adventure.
As we were sadly pushed for time, we chose to walk just 16km to the first hut and return the same 16km the following day. New Zealand is well known for its breathtaking scenery; its laid-back, outdoors lifestyle and the isolated quarters of the country. Our tramping adventure highlighted all of these traits. Our feet made the only footprints on the track throughout the entire two days, meaning the beauty that surrounded us was entirely ours. Sharing stunned silences with excitable laughter, we hiked across deserted beaches, tiptoed across fearless swing bridges, leaped across pebble crafted pathways and adventurously fought our way through weeping pine branches.
With nothing but nature in front, our backpacks behind, sheer blue skis above and the long windy paths through forests, beaches and cliff tops below, we eagerly followed the coastline, in total awe of its beauty. A few bananas, two litres of water, two freshly made sandwiches, 16km of track and a whole five hours later, we finally unstrapped our packs and gratefully arrived at the Heaphy Hut.
After realising we were the only trampers checked in to 'Hut Heaphy', we dumped our bags and headed down to the beach opposite to catch the sunset. With not another soul in sight, we cuddled up on the sand, watching the waves ferociously crash in to the rocks and the disappearing sun explode and stain the blue sky every possible shade of purple, pink and orange. It was one of those travel moments that indent firmly in your memory and you know you'll never ever forget. 'Priceless' I think is what MasterCard would call it.
Spending the night in a tramping hut, we soon discovered, is an experience in itself. The absolute seclusion, eerie silence and pitch darkness certainly takes some getting used to. With no TV, no light switches and no phone reception, you really are on your own. However, it's moments like these that challenge you to create your own entertainment; so we set to work on creating a delicious candlelit dinner (complete with plastic forks, aluminium trays and personally-chopped firewood) and of course, two bottles of red wine (to take the edge off that silent darkness). Climbing in to our sleeping bags a few hours later, wrapped up in almost every item of clothing in our packs, and watching the flames on the fire disappear, we realised what a truly incredible experience this was.
People often say things are never as good second time around. I disagree. Hiking back to the car on the second day was, in many ways, even more breathtaking than the day before. The sky was a brighter shade of blue, the sun was out in full glory and every angle of the coastline appeared different; every photograph - a new interpretation.
As we stood for our final photograph back at the start of the track, 32km wearier than when we first stood at the spot, we both agreed that tramping in New Zealand is a fabulous experience and one we would highly recommend.
Not only do you get to escape the crowds and take yourself well and truly off the beaten track, you also get to take part in a true adventure and discover the beauty of this spectacular country.
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