A solid trip plan is essential for any outdoor adventure. Here we take you through some of the key considerations before you head out. Start with these steps and then move on to other skills in our website.
Seek local knowledge, plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.
Tell someone your plans and leave a date for when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.
In New Zealand, it’s expected you’ll tell someone what you’re doing and where you’re going before you go. We call it ‘leaving intentions.’
Because many outdoor locations are remote and have no mobile phone coverage, often with very few people around, if something does go wrong the only way our emergency services can help you is if they know you haven’t returned. Tell a trusted contact. If you’re visiting from overseas and your trusted contacts are back home you can still tell them of your plans.
Common methods for telling someone your plans
Good = Text / Call / IM / Social Media Post / Note - Before you leave, no matter how far you're going, make sure you either Text / Call / IM / Social Media Post / Leave a note. This is recommended for even the shortest of day walks. However, doing this alone can miss a lot of important information and make finding you tricky, but at least you've narrowed the search area down.
Better = Text / Call / IM / Social Media Post / Note + Outdoor Intentions Form - If you're heading out for more than a few hours fill in the form online and send to a trusted contact. It'll step you through what information to leave. If you follow these steps should something go wrong help will be alerted at a certain point regardless of whether you're able to alert anyone yourself.
Best = Text / Call / IM / Social Media Post / Note + Outdoor Intentions Form + Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) - Following these steps will ensure that someone knows your plans, has all the information to hand if something goes wrong and you have an ability to call for help.
Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.
New Zealand has lots of different types of tracks – from high quality easy paths with clear track markers to very challenging routes with no track or markings. Before you go, make sure you’ve selected a walk/hike that’s suitable for you and your group. If you’re not sure about this then ask a local, check in at the local Department of Conservation office (they know lots about the local area) or ask someone either at your accommodation or at a shop in town before you go. Kiwis love to help out so they’ll share their knowledge with you. There’s lots of information about trips on the DOC website.
New Zealand uses a national system to identify the difficulty level of a track, there are six different levels. Remember, the weather has a huge influence on how challenging your trip might be. Even an easy, well-graded track can be difficult in extreme weather.
Find the right level of track on the Department of Conservation's website here.
The terrain in New Zealand varies a lot. In a short distance you can walk/hike along flat tracks and then find yourself climbing steep hills. Before you start make sure you know what’s ahead of you and consider whether your fitness is suited to the challenge. In most parts of NZ you can find multiple trip options, so pick something that’s suited to you and your group.