Help yourself find your way around the outdoors. Planning your route on a map is one thing, but knowing where to go when you’re out there is a whole other matter. It is essential that you know how to find your way to your destination, and even more important to know how to make it home.
New Zealand may not look big on the map, but people often underestimate the thick bush, changing terrain and can become disorientated on even short walks. Common occurrences are:
Watch as we experimented how easy it is to get lost
72% of search and rescues are to recover a single person or someone who has been separated from a multi-person group.– There and Back, 2016
Talk to your group members, locals, experts and carefully gauge a route that suits your skills. See the Plan Your Trip section to help you understand everything you need to consider while planning a route.
This might be frequently changing weather, new terrain to navigate, unfamiliar tracks and fatigue from enduring physical activity. Looking after yourself isn’t always about managing the big hazards, sometimes it’s the less obvious details that can lead to unintended consequences. Here’s some tips and tricks worth considering.
Have a group management plan to make sure everyone sticks together along the way.
Always take enough supplies for an unexpected night out. See the Take Sufficient Supplies section of the Outdoor Safety Code. You can also find packing lists for your desired activity in our resources.
The skills of navigation involve knowing where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. Various tools help this process. A map, compass, and watch are basic; an altimeter and a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver are useful extras. However, no tool substitutes for map-reading skills.
Take spare batteries for your GPS as well as a map and compass for backup.
Laminate your map / keep it dry in a clear plastic bag. Keep your map handy so you can refer to it frequently, particularly when moving through unfamiliar or untracked areas.
Print multiple versions of your planned route for your entire group.
Getting lost is always a potential risk in the outdoors, and you might need to get help. In this case, it needs to be an emergency situation, but always consider how you might get help if you need it.
The first thing to remember is that every trip needs a plan. A few simples steps to take before you head out can make all the difference if something goes wrong.
Land Information NZ - Learn about and access NZ Topo50 Maps
Department of Conservation - Discover places to explore in NZ