with Laura Weaser
Sport BOP Communication Advisor
Christmas was cancelled in 2017 – well, for me it was.
With a wedding in February, a large get-together held at the start of December with my partner's relations and my family based in Dunedin (where flights to and from Tauranga cost as much as an overseas holiday), my partner and I decided to skip tradition and ‘go bush' over Christmas.
In our house there was no smell of pine, no tinsel or bunting, or presents wrapped. There was, however, a spare room filled with dehydrated meals, cooking gas, waterproof clothing and dry bags as we prepared for a four-day hike around Lake Waikaremoana.
Touted as one of New Zealand's Great Walks, it was one of the few hikes that had eluded us in 2017, thanks to wild weather washing out the track. So, with both our offices shutting down over Christmas, we thought there was never a better time to make the mission.
If you haven't hiked before, there's no way to explain how much of a positive impact the bush can have on you.
For me, it's a place to de-stress, unwind and reset, and instead of racing around trying to beat traffic, battle busy supermarkets and fit in all the numerous group visits, it was incredible to have four days of no deadlines, obligations or city stress. Just wake up, walk, eat, swim, eat and repeat.
Waikaremoana truly is a great walk and was well worth the wait. The terrain is varied – a mix of ‘goblin forest' moss-laden trees, sub-alpine bush, swamps and wetlands, and natives. Spread over four days, the journey is manageable for all ages and abilities, with our biggest day being 15km and our shortest 8km. Plus, taking the water taxi to the start and being picked up at the end was a real treat as you relax and look back at the hills you have accomplished the days before.
It's no wonder our Youth Engagement Team take participants on this hike each year – it's the right mix of challenging and rewarding, with opportunities for fun in the sun (and in the water) around nearly every turn.
Sure, the downside was while our families would be dining on ham and overindulging in beer and wine, we were tucking into dehydrated lamb risotto and the worst dehydrated apricot crumble I have ever experienced – but it was a small price to pay to feel well and truly, completely relaxed.
Although peace and quiet was our reason for escaping to the great outdoors, hiking is also one of my favourite ways to be social. What better way to do something for you, explore new places and get to hang with friends and family?
We're so lucky in the Bay of Plenty to be surrounded by walks and cycle trails for all ages and abilities, and whether outdoor activity is something for you or your whole family to enjoy, summer is a great time to get exploring.
If you're looking for inspiration in the form of new trails, locations or recreation providers, visit www.virtuallyontrack.co.nz