Planning on the same page

19th May 2021|3min

There is a lot that goes into planning even the shortest of walks. It's an essential part of any adventure so it pays to get everyone involved.

Ros from our NZ Mountain Safety Council team shares some learnings and tips from a group tramping trip on the West Coast recently.

Me and a group of fellow beginner trampers planned a summer adventure to the The Croesus Track, an old section of the new Paparoa Track, Westland Tai Poutini National Park. As we all came from different backgrounds and based in different areas of the country, we needed to come up with ways to plan online, together. Here's some things I learned:

1. Start discussions early

As a group of beginners, or if you have never walked together before, start thinking about your trip plan well in advance. This helps group members to start getting fitter and more skilled, and to identify what gear they need to source (and save up for!).

2. Check in with each other

We all lived in different places and some didn't even know each other. So compiling thoughts in one place really helps with developing a cohesive plan and ensuring nothing is forgotten. We had a chat group on social media to allow everyone to discuss plus video chats for the finer details. The following are great things to raise:

  • What gear everyone has or doesn't have
  • Your own comfort zones, experience levels and concerns
  • Who has been there before, and what was it like?

TOP TIP: Have a trip leader note the details somewhere online, you can make an online document and load this into the new Plan My Walk app or add a URL in the notes section and everyone can access it.

 3. As much as some want to keep it fun, dive into the plan details that will keep you all safe
  • Just how hard is the trip going to be? Look at photos online, elevation plots, TOPO maps and read track reviews. With groups of varying fitness levels and outdoor experience, it pays to understand what you and everyone else are capable of.
  • What emergency equipment is everyone carrying? Will you need to rent or purchase a PLB, who has the First Aid Kit and what is each individual carrying?
  • What type of weather should you expect? Will it be typically cold, wet and windy for the time of year you are going? Prepare for the worst and invest in the right gear.
  • What kind of skills might be required? Will there be bridges or will you need to cross rivers? Will you encounter areas where navigation skills are needed?
  • Decide and agree on an emergency plan. We made a backup plan, ‘Plan B’, that gave us the choice of continuing as planned or to stay another night and return the same way. This provides everyone a sense of comfort knowing you have options out in the bush.

TOP TIP: MSC's interactive Elearning Lesson: Plan a Trip Like a Pro is a great lesson to step you through how to plan.

4. Have fun out there - as a group

Make sure everyone is satisfied with the pace, pitstops and stops for snacks along the way. There are some excellent tips in this video that make it fun for everyone. How to travel as a group:

We then applied our plan

Due to poor weather, we ended up having to use our 'Plan B' and stay another night (that we booked just in case) at the amazing Ces Clarke Hut - rather than carry on to the coast. Photo (left) shows the view to Barrytown where we intended to go the next day before the weather packed in. We woke to the high winds and low visibility outside the hut (right) which made us make the call to stay.

Paparoa weather before and after | Ros Wells
Thanks to our discussions prior to the trip, we were all on the same page when it came to making decisions in the outdoors. Can't wait to plan the next one!

Where to next? 

If you have tips on skills for NZ’s outdoors, get in touch – the more shared, the more others can learn. Email