I (Sp) am back in New Zealand for a few weeks and filling it with some hiking, climbing and enjoying the country.

The great thing about NZ “tramping” is that there are lots of tracks, fantastic views and a great hut system. The bad thing is that there are lots of biting sandflies, rain and nothing is easy. But sometimes rewards are directly proportional to effort.

With my brother-in-law Martin I did a two day hike up to kiwi Saddle hut, up Mount Patriach and down to John Reid hut and out down Chummies track. The huts here are small 6 bunk ones, basic but shelter and no need to carry a tent. We awoke to cloud and gloom but after hiking for less than an hour were out and on top of it all with cloud filling the valleys and perfect clear blue skies above. More of a route than a track along the tops, but easy to follow in fine weather the route gives views from one side of the South Island to the other.

No wind, warm temps and easy hiking along the open tops made it a day to remember. The 3000 foot descent is also something to remember too. Classic NZ, straight down the fall line and wasting no time about it. A few steps axed out of the dirt here and there to give the illusion of security. Would not be called a track in the USA and the Park or Forest Service would close it and warn people away. Here it is go ahead, but know the risks and look after yourself. And people do. We even saw a family with  two 7 and 11 year old girls doing the trip. “Good on ya”