Published in Wilderness Magazine, July 2017

Tramping can sometimes bring people together in the most unexpected ways. Generally though it’s not considered to be the best way to meet that special someone. The lack of grooming facilities and showers, the smell of week-old polypropylene, the psychological strain of pushing on hour after hour in the rain and cold…sometimes the most romantic thing that can happen is someone leaving a few squares of toilet paper for you in the long-drop. Trampers can be a shy bunch, but they deserve to find romance as much as anyone. That’s why we’ve started a dating app, called Firelighters. We present the first round of profiles here, and we think you’ll agree they’re a spunky bunch.
If you’re looking for someone to share two zipped together sleeping bags with, you might just find what you’re looking for. Good luck, we hope this is one fire you won’t want to extinguish before leaving the bush!

Frank Frisco

Likes: Hard slogs, clag, fresh venison, other trampers who can keep up.
Dislikes: short cuts, tourists, wusses who can’t hack it, kids.

I’m a mud-loving weekend warrior from Woodville, looking for that special someone to share a topographical map with. I’ve spent years neglecting normal social interaction to go tramping. My fingernails are adept at scraping out congealed packet pasta from the billy, and my socks never smell. I can spot a Spaniard from a mile off, find any item in my pack in a matter of seconds, subtract magnetic declination from any compass bearing with ease. If you’re the kind of girl who enjoys listening to someone tell them about how many huts they’ve been to in the Ruahines then I’m your man. My heroes include Barry Crump, Charlie Douglas and the guy in the ad for the long raincoat on the back page of the FMC Bulletin.


Terry Barker

Likes: A warm head, quiet huts, remembering to bring my tramping boots, boiled vegetables.
Dislikes: Trampers with all the gear, hut-baggers, the Great Walks.

My name’s Terry and I like to get away to clear my head. Also to cover my head. I hate crowds but love the endless trees and the white symphony of snow. You’ll generally find me in those rarely-visited huts DOC has slated for removal. I write poetry in my spare time. I have a lot of spare time. Some people think I’m a bit dull, because I’m not much for words and I talk kind of slow. But I’m a good listener, especially to myself. It’s true I like my own company but it gets a bit lonely up in the mountains so I’d appreciate a lady friend to walk with me and listen to me mumble. Someone to remind me to pick up my stick before leaving the rest stop would be nice, too. I’m not the quickest guy in the world; in fact, I rarely make it out of view of the road-end by the first night, but what I lack in speed I make up for in silence. Are you the one? Patience definitely a virtue.


Geoff Gardiner

Likes: Bawdy ballards, improvising weapons from tramping equipment, a tipple of scotch by the fire, another tipple of scotch by the fire.
Dislikes: Getting old, carrying a heavy pack, carrying anything.

Like me are you sick of your partner whinging every time you leave for the weekend to go tramping? Here’s an idea: dump their sorry arse and let’s form the ultimate tramping team. We can whinge at each other! I’m both easily annoyed and easily annoying so if that sounds like you then get in touch. I’m a weekend alcoholic with a mild to moderate personality disorder. I love the feel of wet socks in the morning so pack-rafting could be on the cards. Cards could also be on the cards, so bring a deck and don’t forget the joker. I don’t travel light, and I definitely don’t travel fast. I’m looking for a woman with room in her pack who will laugh at my jokes. Thirsty? Decanting skills a plus.


Fanny Fenella

Likes: Cooking, fashion, crying, standing too close to the fire
Dislikes: Deep-seated childhood trauma, dark places, the Tararuas

Hello prospective single trampers of the male persuasion! Not male? Maybe I can persuade you! I’m a fun-loving bush gal from Wallaceville. I roll both my sleeping mat and my ‘R’s with aplomb! I consider myself a gourmet bush cook, so if good kai is on your mind, you’ve found your woman. Most of my recipes involved some kind of variation of flour and powered milk, so the gluten and lactose intolerant need not apply. I’m looking for a man with good grocery shopping skills, top-notch table manners and a psychiatry degree. My hobbies include nude sunbathing and getting moles removed. For entertainment I enjoy the occasional nervous breakdown and uncontrollable weeping. My counsellor has advised me to avoid uphills. Can you help me find my medication?


Pat Sayers

Likes: Obscure websites, incoherence, shouting, the Garden of Eden.
Dislikes: The mainstream media, the government, know-it-all scientists, logic.

Hello ladies! My name’s Pat and I’m an anti-1080 nutter from Taradale. My main interests include scaremongering, spreading misinformation and not listening to reason. I’m pretty easy to get along with so long as you agree with me. I know for a fact that 1080 is responsible for the extinction of the moa, and I can direct you to the website that proves it (my mate Buzzo runs it). My other hobbies include filtering out fluoride in the water and visiting the dentist. You get the full package with me, and I’d love to tell you about how the 1953 Mount Everest expedition was faked. It has actually never been climbed. If you look closely at that famous photo of Tenzing Norgay you can clearly see a map of the Inland Kaikouras sticking out of his back pocket. He’s standing on top of Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku! I can’t wait to tell you more, so please get in touch. Maybe we can be the first to climb Everest?


Victoria Frew

Likes: Rest stops, picking the chocolate out of the scroggin, downhill, hamburgers
Dislikes: The water at the bottom of long-drops, unnecessarily braided rivers

Hey there fellas. I’m a South Island girl with a love of all things outdoors. Well, most things outdoors. Okay, some things outdoors. Like signposts and well maintained tracks, I really like those. And serviced huts. I may not be the most adventurous girl but I’m stoic and have a great sense of humour. Just don’t test it. I used to date a hut warden but he left me for a hunter he says he met at a swingers’ bridge, whatever that is. So like a scuffed up second-hand pair of tramping boots I’m back on the market cheap. If you’re a guy who’s fit, good-looking and not secretly gay then give me a call. I’m prepared to compromise on the fit and good-looking part. I’d like to settle down eventually and have kids carry my gear. My favourite TV show is Lost and my favourite pocket knife is too. Can help me find it?


Charlie Syme

Likes: Cold rivers, a simple packing list, courting hypothermia.
Dislikes: The suffocating constraints of society, that strange feeling you’re being followed by a faster party, blisters.

My name’s Charlie but you can call me Big Daddy for short. I was unemployed but found the workload a bit much so I’m now retired. I love tramping but I’m not too keen on tramping gear. I sometimes bring a pack but usually it only holds two stale buns and a broken torch. Can you buy me a new torch? I’m also looking for someone with a good sense of direction. Oh, and did I mention you’ll be tramping nude? Hope that’s not an issue, if it is I can supply you with a bandana and a sense of self-worth. I live in Otira but find the noise and the smog a bit much, plus it gets mighty hot during bath time, so I’d love someone to whisk me away to a nice hut in Arthur’s Pass sometime, or at least just walk me home. Can you help me find my house?


John Carrington*

Likes: Anonymity, cunning disguises, get rich quick schemes, goblin forests
Dislikes: Open spaces, hut wardens, sirens

Hi there. I love to get into the hills regularly to get away from it all, but mostly from debt collectors and the cops. If you like a man in uniform then look no further than the guy chasing me. The good thing about being on the run is that I’ve discovered the best, most isolated huts in the country to hide out in. No one would think to look in huts like Mungo, Pell Stream or Dickie Spur (except that bloody nosy Barnett, Brown and Spearpoint mob – those bastards will find you anywhere).
I’m looking for a woman who’s loyal, good at keeping secrets, agile and comfortable around police dogs. I’ve got a lot of money coming in to me over the next couple of days (don’t ask me how) so I can buy us enough food to holed up for at least a couple of months until the heat goes away (yes, I hate tramping in summer). Looks not important but lax morals a must. Rifle skills handy, too.
* Not my real name


Julie Chancellor

Likes: Wine (in a proper glass), looking your best in the bush, the prospect of the tramp ending
Dislikes: Scratchy vegetation that can damage clothes, mud, smelly trampers, polypropylene

Hi! I’m an outdoors-loving lawyer from Ponsonby. I enjoy sunsets, soft light and the post-processing of portrait photos. I love the idea of tramping but I’m not really into mud or walking far, and I definitely couldn’t wear long johns. I’ve got all the essential tramping gear: travel pillow, portable USB charger, collapsible blender, biodegradable makeup, miniature coffee grinder, plus I’ve just downloaded the latest version of Google Maps so I can navigate along the tops. I’d like to meet a professional man who’s spontaneous and full of surprises, who can pick me up from work next Friday at 5:40-5:45pm and drive us to Pinnacles Hut in the Coromandel (late model car, please, with air conditioning), bearing in mind I must be home by 1:30pm Sunday at the very latest for my pilates class. I love to travel and am looking for someone to join me on a trip to Kathmandu (the Queen Street store has a sale on right now).


Kyle Murchison

Likes: Booking systems, forms, emergency exit signage, more funding
Dislikes: Freeloaders, huts that don’t meet safety regulations, people camping too close to Great Walk tracks.

Hey there hot stuff, I’m a high country hut warden from Hunterville. I like working out at the gym and working out estimated travel times. I’d like to meet a fit, young man to share the warden’s quarters with me on a cold night. I’m very career-driven and would like to modernise DOC (these drab uniforms for a start…ugh!).
I have big ideas, and I’d love someone to help me turn my dreams into reality. I’m thinking how great would it be if Mueller Hut was turned into a nightclub. Don’t you agree? I also think opening a specialist massage and day spa resort at Welcome Flat could really generate some proper income for DOC. But perhaps my grandest plan of all is to open the country’s first backcountry swingers’ club, located on a remote swing bridge. Screw this “Maximum load 1 person” nonsense!
I’m looking for someone with an annual backcountry hut pass who is tidy, courteous with shared bench space, replaces firewood, and who doesn’t be a smart arse with the Please Leave Blank column in the hut book.


Kevin Crow

Likes: The Aussie cricket team, animals that can kill you in the bush, walking in 40 plus degrees.
Dislikes: Rain, getting run out, the All Blacks.

G’day, Kiwi hikers! I’m an Aussie guy visiting the land of the long white cloud for the annual Parawai Lodge Twenty20 tournament – you know, that competition where you have to neck twenty cans of VB before running to Field Hut. I must admit it’s taking me a bit to get used to the Kiwi way of doing things. You guys call it “tramping,” right? That’s cute. What’s up with all the huts, though? Youse have got like a thousand of the bloody things. Lugged me damn swag all the way up Ruapehu for nothing! Strewth! No wonder your bloody hills are full of families enjoying the outdoors; don’t youse know the bush is meant to be for rugged, mountain men only? That reminds me, I’m a mountin’ man and I love mountin’ women! Lol.
But seriously, I’m looking for a nice Kiwi sheila to explain what a Swanndri is and help me pronounce Maori place names. I’m keen to give a long-distance relationship a go, so if you’re up for doing the Te Araroa Trail with me that would be great.