When a hike goes wrong…

This weekend, we had great plans to try some new camping recipes on a sandy forest trail I know and love in the Whirinaki Forest in New Zealand’s North Island (topographical map). We planned to stay in a gorgeous historic backcountry hut called Rogers Hut. But last week, the area was affected by a rare cyclone, and luck was not on our side – the road to our trailhead was badly damaged.

We hadn’t given ourselves a back-up option by bringing a tent, and with limited hours of daylight left, we needed to postpone our start until the next morning. We drove close to the trailhead to climb Mt Pirongia, safely outside the storm-hit area.

View from the summit of Mt Pirongia, New Zealand

Mt Pirongia is a thickly-forested climb, and the views are stunning. Like most New Zealand rainforests, rich forestation comes with a quantity of mud you wouldn’t believe. Again, my prep (originally planned for a light hike on a sandy trail) failed me – I was wearing porous trail-running shoes rather than hiking boots.

My trail-runners weren’t the ideal footwear for rainforest mud

We persevered and were rewarded with magnificent views and perfect weather to enjoy them while we overnighted near the summit in quaint Pahautea Hut.

Enjoying smores, lolly cake and a good book by candlelight in Pahautea Hut

The new recipes including a halloumi and couscous dish and an instant rice curry were tried (coming soon to the site – watch this space!).

But the real learning for me was around adaptability when the unpredictable happens. We thought we’d packed the right gear for our needs, but when we had to change plans, we found ourselves poorly-equipped. I’ll be making sure the tent and gear options for different conditions are in the car next time.

For help planning what to bring on a hiking or camping trip, take a look at this checklist.


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