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Backpacking across New Zealand.

billwillbillwill Registered User regular
edited January 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I would like to backpack around New Zealand this summer. I don't have much money (poor college student yay), so it would have to be hostels and camping. I don't really see the need to waste everyone's time with a bunch of back story, so here are the facts/questions.

I've been to New Zealand before (two years ago with my family), during the month of August.

What is the legality of camping? I'd imagine I can't just do it anywhere, but what locations would be off limits? I would love to camp on a beach.

How feasible would it be to travel around on a bike?

How about a training regiment? I have five months, a treadmill, two different stationary bikes (one is like laying down and biking), and an elliptical machine.

What would the best food be that would give me the most nutrition, yet is light and easily stored? I'm thinking beef jerky would be a good choice, but what else?

As for water, I read about this large straw a while back that has like seven filters in it, making almost anything safe for drinking (it was for people in third world countries). Anyone know of something like this? I don't care about price...I would actually prefer something more expensive (but within reason), because it needs to be durable and I want the best quality filtering possible.

This is all I have on my head now. I'll add more later. This is obviously very early in the planning stages, and I'm just curious as to how possible this is, so please excuse any silly questions.

I hate you and you hate me.
billwill on


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    BalgairBalgair Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Bump because I'm curious to see what people will tell you. I like the idea, too--though I suspect the information you seek may not fit in the confines of a forum thread. If you've never backpacked before, there's a shit ton of preparation to be figured out. Even if it wasn't in a foreign country.

    Anyway...New Zealand, eh? Did you know Lord of the Rings was filmed there? (kidding)

    Balgair on
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    HearthjawHearthjaw Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I haven't done much around New Zealand but in Australia as long as it isn't private property, a road or a creek bed you're fine. Just be discreet and take your garbage with you, for more detail;
    Bike riding the country is totally feasible and would be pretty awesome. Getting a bike across cook straight shouldn't be a problem, as they have regular ferries.
    Lonely planet have done a guide (
    but I'm sure theres plenty more info out there on the net.

    Water in new zealand is pretty safe, getting clean tap water shouldn't be a huge issue, just a pack of purifcation tablets should do you fine for when you use watercourses as long as you don't mind the taste.

    Hearthjaw on
    steamid: sewersider
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    L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    There's an area of public access called the Queen's Chain around all major bodies of water (oceans, lakes, and rivers) it's somewhere around 20 metres (22 yards) wide and is mainly used for camping. I would be very wary about drinking from most rivers since a lot of them have dairy farms going across them and various fun forms of runoff (nitrate fertilisers, cow shit and piss etc). There's a national cycleway being built but it's in the very early stages, although there's already a few substantial cycle trails around (the Otago rail trail being a pretty big one). I would definitely recommend that no matter where else you go, you visit fiordland and the southwest of the south island in general (Te Anau etc), unfortunately it's very remote and there's only one road in and out.

    I've lived up and down the country my whole life and Dunedin for the last decade or so, there's a few other forumers from here and Wellington and Auckland but they don't post in H/A much.

    L|ama on
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    FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Kia Ora.

    Righto - here's a couple of things to get you thinkingin the right direction. Camping "anywhere" (also called freedom-camping here) is restricted I hear... But there was a news story on it recently.

    Also, it was kind of a thing a while back where they were planning a national cycle-way. I know nothing about it other than it was a... thing. So if you look it up, you should get some info.

    Fallingman on
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    AntithesisAntithesis Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Some of this should apply to you. It's in no particular order, and I hike designated trails, mostly, but I hope it'll help.

    Beef jerky is tasty, and it's worth bringing some small amount, but don't rely on it. It'll run out a lot faster than you'll expect. (Don't bring it in the original packaging, either.) You will want a lot of protein, though. I'd recommend peanut butter. One plastic jar weighs a bit, but it just has so much energy and so many nutrients in it. (You will get sick of the taste, eventually, but that means it'll probably last!) Don't take anything canned. It's just not worth it. Packet tuna is always good, bonus points if it's in oil. Hard, sweet candy to suck on is something you will want a lot. Lentils and Couscous are nutritious, expand a LOT in hot water, and can keep you fed pretty well if you have the time to cook them (which can vary). Crackers (and something to spread on them other than tuna and peanut butter) can make a nice lunch. Bring salt, pepper, and maybe your spice of choice. Other things too, obviously, this are just some things that have worked out well for me.

    Resealable bags are your friends. Take at least five or ten more than you think you'll need, varying in size from small to oh-god-I've-got-all-this-trash-and-nowhere-to-put-it-all-it's-starting-to-smell.

    You'll want to carry your stuff in trash bags inside your backpack of choice to keep it dry. It doesn't matter if sun is expected 90% of the time, that single rainy day will drive you insane. Separate and organize them as you think you'll need to.

    While we're on rain, you'll want boots to hike in. They should be worn in and durable. You'll also want flip-flops to walk around in wherever you camp. A decent raincoat wouldn't hurt. And I'd wear synthetic clothes as much as you can just because they'll dry quickly and keep you warm while doing it. (A fleece would be better than a sweater, etc...)

    As far as drinks go, a little iced tea mix and some chicken/beef broth cubes will go a long way. And they're very portable. (You *can* take hot chocolate mix, but I find it's a bit too messy.) Also, Tang. You will grow to fondle a little container of Tang in your sleep. (Or maybe I just like Tang.)

    Freeze dried food is expensive, but so light that bringing a dinner and a desert to mark a special occasion would be worth it.

    Plan on needing to stop for food. Several times, in all likelihood. At most, you're going to be able to have a week's worth of food on you without it being overbearing. You can risk general deliveries to post offices (not advisable with overseas shipping), or find places to resupply. Bring money, in other words.

    If you plan on biking, you probably wouldn't have to go very far from whatever road/path you follow. If you follow a hiking path, though- there may be some large detours involved for supplies. If you are mostly going to hike, hiking poles are pretty much a necessity. You wouldn't think it, but they are.

    For water purification, I use a generic bottle filter (just a screen to get rid of leaf fragments and stuff that you can see, not good to clean water on its own) and a little thing called a SteriPEN Adventurer. It's basically a pretty sturdy vaguely pen-sized device you can open up to reveal a long UV bulb. You turn it on, swirl it around in your water bottle, and a minute and so later, your water is purified. Or at least, I haven't caught anything yet. Keep in mind, I mostly take water from high mountain streams, so it's rarely a problem. Make sure to never let even a drop of possibly contaminated water touch what you've purified- I take the cap to my water bottle, screw it on, turn the whole thing upside down and leak out some just to make sure that everything I drink is pure.

    I know what drinking straw you're mentioning, but I can't remember it's name either. Maybe it would work. But it'd be difficult to filter anything for cooking and boiling alone doesn't get everything.

    Probably the best lesson that I've learned is that unless you're extremely confident in your ability to start and maintain a fire from scratch, you'll want a stove if you plan on eating anything hot.

    Know how to use a moleskine and bring one, some scissors, and bandages for blisters. In fact, have a compact first aid kit and painkillers. It may be difficult, but maybe get what is necessary when you arrive?

    Have Toilet Paper. Remove the tube and BAM- it's not taking up much space at all and you will want it at some point.

    You'll want a fairly decent compass and a map of the general route you plan on taking/where you plan on stopping. Also a notebook+ pencil/pen.

    Synthetic sleeping bags will keep you warm even in wet weather and are your best friend. Bonus points if they have a separate waterproof skin that keeps you from needing a tent. Mostly.

    I could keep ranting, but this should give you a general idea.

    Antithesis on
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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I used to a fair bit of camping in North Otago back in the day, which if you don't know is on the southern half of the east coast of the South Island, but we exclusively camped in designed camping sites that are now fee paying (my old site appears to be $15 NZD/night). The sites are usually pretty well marked, run by local councils or DOC.

    This website purports to list free camping sites, so it might be of some use to you.

    Then there is DOC, the Department of Conservation which owns a fair amount of land for conservation or recreation - Here is their website

    Kalkino on
    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
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    JustPlainPavekJustPlainPavek Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I didn't do any serious backpacking when I was in New Zealand a few years ago so I can't offer recommendations as specific as Antithesis' but hiking — tramping I believe they call it — is a big thing there and I think if you search around you can probably find some forums or sites devoted exclusively to it. Lonely Planet also has a book specifically on New Zealand hiking which probably has general planning and preparation advice in addition to trail guides. In terms of food to carry, I'm pretty sure you could find hiking stores ready to sell you anything you need at any major city or trailhead town, possibly for a little more expensive than what you initially buy in the States but probably cheaper than having extra shipped to you.

    JustPlainPavek on
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