We all want to get out and do something. Personally I feel much better on Monday when I’ve packed in an awesome and adventurous weekend. Whether you’re exploring a new country or your own backyard (or both, in our case), it can be tough to decide what to do and even harder to do it. Fortunately, there are tons of resources available (perhaps an overwhelming amount) to plan an incredible weekend getaway that leaves you satisfying-ly sore, fulfilled, and stoked into the following week.
1. Do the research. There’s something to be said for winging it, but when you only have two days of freedom it’s better to spend that time on your hike rather than searching for hikes in that area. Some of the best resources that we’ve used: google maps (directions to get there), google earth (what does the trail/ride/campsite actually look like), guidebooks, and recommendations from friends and acquaintances.
Our favorite NZ Guidebook for day hikes and things to see has been NZ Frenzy by Scott Cook. He lists 150 outings varying from obscure to popular with exact directions, distances, and times (e.g.: drive 1.5 km down XX road, and park near house #58; the hidden path will be next to the red mailbox). We dog-eared his recommendation of the Colquhouns Beach Track along the shore of Lake Wanaka. “There’s more driftwood on the beach than you can burn in a lifetime…and chances are that it’ll be just you on this heavenly reach.” Then, Friday night over homemade pizza with our work away hosts Glenn and Tash, they recommended the bi-annual Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow. Hmmm, two birds with one hour drive – bingo!
2. Pack the night before, and consider having a list. One time Tyler and I packed our backpacks for an overnight backpacking trip where we would be dropped off at the trailhead. The following morning we jogged with jangling backpacks to meet my uncle for the ride, only to discover that we had forgotten the tent. In the Sierra Nevada of California that’s not a big deal, but in southern New Zealand it will rain. Trip over, Try again. PS – we went home to regroup and quickly left for another backpacking trip, but it ended up being mostly a slog through bogs and scrambling up steep streambeds. See, it pays to do the research!
3. Whatever you think you can do, cut the mileage in half. I’m all for enduro trips that push you physically and mentally and make for great stories (type II fun), but if you want to enjoy it in the moment (type I fun) cut down on the mileage and increase the hang out time. After a mere two hours of hiking on the Colquhoun trail we crunched through a mile-long stretch of empty gravel beach piled with driftwood and set our packs down for the day. We pitched the tent amongst the few cottonwood trees and immediately peeled off sticky clothes to dry in the sun while we skinny-dipped in the deep sapphire waters of Lake Wanaka. Sweet as!
4. Bring a plethora of snacks. The only reason Tyler exercises is so that he can eat more cliff bars. If you’re hungry, the gorgeous view will just remind you that you have to descend before you get to the emergency granola bar in the car. Hungry + Angry = Hangry, which equates to your wonderful significant other turning into a grizzly bear trapped in a Honda Fit with its cub outside. Extra points go to those who use their surroundings to make their food taste even better. For the Colquhouns Beach Track we brought a few abalone sausages that we had made with Glenn, and spit roasted them on a bonfire overlooking Lake Wanaka.
5. Look at the stars until you see a shooting star. This could take a very long time (Matt), but it will totally be worth it. And don’t forget to make a wish, because 78% of wishes made on shooting stars will come true! (Disclaimer: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, by Abraham Lincoln).