-- Nathan Fa’avae
“New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world”. It’s a bold statement but sometimes I wonder our claim to such a title is starting to be threatened.
Department of Conservation report that Kiwis (people) are using the backcountry less. It seems the USA style of retail and commercialisation that we have adopted, through longer work and trading hours, is eating into free time, family time and what I term to be fun time.
I meet a lot of kids who find the school holidays boring and even prefer to be back at school. This is something I am slightly horrified by and determined that my children will never be in a position where they feel that way.
The outdoor and adventure opportunities in New Zealand go further than ones lifetime, so there shouldn’t be any reason to be bored, unless of course a dose of laziness is added in. Heading into the outdoors can also be cheap, the basic living and simple equipment needed to go hiking for example, is accessible to nearly everyone.
I sense people have got too entrenched into their comfort zones and it’s simply easier to opt for the sofa and television.
My children (5, 7 and 9) are now all at school so we had most of January to fill up. Another motivating factor was we rented our house out for 3-weeks forcing us to link some adventures together.
After some indulgence and feasting over Christmas we definitely were need of some activity. With 3-trips in mind it came down to the weather to dictate to us what order to do things. With some bad weather approaching over New Year, we postponed our Durville Island kayak trip and loaded up the packs for a 7-day hiking trip in the Leatham Conservation Area. The requirements for our trip was to be close to swimming rivers, huts to retreat to if needed and somewhere that allows dogs, so Sunny our lab could tag along.
The trip started in glorious sunshine for a day and a bit but then the predicted low-pressure system moved in, dropping the temperature and also some rain.
With about 20km to hike each day to complete our loop it meant the kids had a sizeable challenge ahead of them. To steal a phrase, this was no walk in the park. A mixture of broken ground, high alpine and a few days in the middle off track. We spent New Year in a 2-person bivvy, the whole week cooking on fire and collecting drinking water from streams. Jessie my 9-year old was very happy with her Xmas present, a pair of Roclite 295. Jodie, my wife, and I opted for the Roclite 315s, slightly more robust for carrying the heavy packs.
Mission achieved we exited the mountains to the nearest store in search of fresh bakery and ice cream. A quick look at the weather and presented us a window of weather that would probably allow us to sea kayak around Durville Island, about 100km. We allowed for 7-days but knew from previous trips, when the conditions are good, paddle on. We made it around in 5-days, plenty of sunshine but got pushed around at times by high winds. The trip was great with excellent camping; swimming and beach playtime for the kids … and of course some supreme coastal trail running for the adults.
Out from the wilds we did need to take a few days to plan the next odyssey, a heli-kayaking trip. With inflatable kayaks, food and camping gear for 4-days, we got dropped by helicopter at Roebuck Hut in the Pelorus Wilderness, in Mount Richmond Forest park. Possibly a first descent! – We spent 4-days paddling out on mainly a grade 2 river, with some grade 3 sprinkled in from time to time. A few rapids had to be portaged so the Roclite 295 was the choice for this trip. A very special trip indeed.
With still a week of school holidays remaining and a strong desire to stay out of town, we headed to the Buller River for a days kayaking en route to a 3-day hiking trip to Lake Christabell. As we camped at the track start the trip had less appeal when the rain increased and the cold set in. On waking we learnt that the track had suffered damage and snow was forecast, so we changed plan for a 2-day to Lake Stream, a good climb into an alpine basin. That night it snowed making the January school holiday tramping seem rather bizarre.
After a warm up in the Hanmer Hot pools we snuck in 2-more day trips hiking before the school bell rang.
I know many would look at our trips and think they are to hard or to difficult to organise, which for some people may be true. But the point is there are thousands of adventures out there and the trips I believe are hugely rewarding for the children. They learn about basic needs, about what they really need versus what they think they need. They learn about nature and connect with the rhythms of the weather and environment. They also learn about what they can do, how to persevere and overcome challenge.
One thing my children are continually teaching me is, that they are far more capable than what I assumed. If I think about that in our community, many children are missing out because others peoples limitations are being placed on them. I say, let the children the play, and can I play to?
Thanks to inov-8 for making shoes built for real adventure.