A year in preview for Wilderness Magazine, January 2017


It used to be all so easy, didn’t it? You bounded up mountains, splashed down rivers, pushed through leatherwood with aplomb. So don’t get too down on your recent slowdown. Travel looks likely; remember, the great outdoors won’t come to you. A long weekend requires a long walk. A new tramping partner will invigorate your zest for the bush and you’ll lose some weight. Pack, and think, light.


It wouldn’t have escaped your notice that your star sign sounds very much like ‘Tararuas’. Is it a sign? No. Stay away from those dreary, claggy lumps. New gear beckons, which is great news because so does bad weather. You’ll soon put waterproof ratings to the true test. Outdoor shops await your custom, and there’s no need to wait for a sale because there’s one on now; what are the chances! Impulse buys will pay off big time by winter.


You’ve never been one for crowded huts. A stickler for order, other hut-users just don’t understand the correct way of doing things. You’ve always subscribed to the mantra hell is other trampers. An upcoming anticyclone brings the chance for a remote getaway. Arthurs Pass looks likely, but romance looks unlikely. Beware of misleading track markers and trust your instincts. Take an EPIRB, and watch out for Spaniards.


Gaiters, map, compass, toiletry bag, those woollen socks you love but can never find; packing really gets you down! Unpacking is worse. You’ve been known to dump your pack in the hallway and leave it there for weeks. Autumn is a great time to establish new systems. Your tramping cupboard should not contain board games! Clean those boots as soon as you return. Your new favourite saying: wash and replace, don’t clog up your space. A little organisation goes a long way. Avoid bog, the Catlins.


Before you leave for your next tramp, take a look in the mirror. Is this really the image you want to present to the bush-going public? A spruce up wouldn’t hurt. Ditch the ridiculous mulit-coloured polypropylene tops for sleek, stylish merino. Colour-match with your surroundings. Natural tones suit the bush, and don’t look so bad on you either. Remember, you never know you might meet in a hut…


You’ve tended to do most of your adventuring from the couch. Yes, tramping vicariously is much safer than the real thing, but sooner or later the call of the wild will howl. So get out there and knock some bastard off! A mountain, preferably. There’s an enticing peak within 50 kilometres of you right now. It has your name on it, which is just as well because its real name is unpronounceable. Pack sensibly, and label your clothing.


It’s been a while since it crossed your mind to do a crossing. You’ve always been a dab hand at logistics. It’s time to rally the troops, or anyone with a station wagon big enough for four packs. Arranging transport brings great karma. Get to know your road end, research nearby pubs and fast food outlets, and whack some jumper leads in the boot. Avoid hut wardens.


Finding the time to get outdoors has been your number one excuse. Finding the outdoors has been number two. It’s time to invest in some new maps. A trip to your local DOC shop will result in new friends and a new enthusiasm for getting off your backside. Buy a hardback while you’re there. A middled-aged man in a khaki top and a silver beard will give you helpful advice. Watch your step on the footpath, and link arms to cross the road.


Pasta, porridge, peanut butter. Your dull, solid tramping fare could have been written by John Pascoe himself. Late summer is a great time to try out new recipes, and more importantly to ditch the old ones. Food ideas in Wilderness Magazine aren’t just filler, they’re total filler. Who says you have to eat like a student when you hit the mountains? Gourmet tramping is easier than you think. For the best views head south.


A change is as good as a holiday. Unfortunately for you, the only change you’ll be getting is a cold front. But no matter, your stoicism can outlast any weather system. A lifelong plodder, there’s no slowing you down, or speeding you up. You’ve always taken the time to smell the mountain daisies, been the first to pause at every river crossing to wash your face. You hold a special distain for the young and fit. You’ll tramp until you’re eighty. Look after your knees.


You’ll be feeling fit this month, dear Aquarius. It’s time to take to the tussock and mount those mountains. Sugar gets a bad rap, but you’re going to need some soon. March could be your month of eating nothing but snack food. You’ll have energy to spare for some hut maintenance, too. You’ve always loved chipping for the common good. It’s time to let someone else handle the washing up. Carry a sly hip flask and claim the cosy spot by the fire.


You’re an unstoppable force, except for all those times you stopped. You play hard, but inside you’re a little soft. There’s no shame in that. You’re fond of striping off in tarns, and keeping everyone awake with noisy games of cards. You’ve always talked too loud in huts. You’ll be first up in the morning boiling the billy and flattening the map. A snowfall looks likely. Your gloves will once again let you down and your pack liner will leak. A solo adventure could be just what you, and everyone else, needs.