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Exploring NZ bush – how to cultivate a spirit of adventure

A story about how I learned to be open to adventure.

Exploring NZ bush how to cultivate a spirit of adventure

I grew up in the Waitakere ranges west of Auckland. Whenever I am home to visit my family, my father and I head out into the bush for a mini adventure. This time, he was keen to show me a track he had made, he does a lot of off track hiking (read wandering around aimlessly in the bush). The challenge of course is establishing a track well enough that you can find it again but not so well that other people will stumble across it.

Now bear with me. I know that wandering out into native bush without a map, or track to guide you, sounds more like suicide than an adventure to most people but it’s just one of those things that we have always done as a family (there is also a lot of equipment including a GPS lugged along).

hiking in new zealand

In fact, as long as I can remember my father and I have been having mini adventures. Free camping in unmarked bush. Going on epic day hikes that were supposed to be an hour because my Dad got disorientated (he never gets lost just ask him, he knows exactly where he is. It just might not be where we planned to be). Motorcycling for hours only to discover we have been going the wrong way down the track for the whole time. To be honest as children my brother and I sometimes felt like lemmings, blindly following Dad off the nearest cliff.

Sometimes I saw amazing untouched parts of nature. Sometimes I got tired and hungry and fed up but every time was an adventure. Every time I learned something about navigating or living off the land. Every time was unique and taught me how to look after myself and what amazing experiences you can have with nothing but a spirit of adventure.

Travelling is an adjustment for everyone. A steep learning curve where you must learn what works for you, often the hard way. But my well-developed sense of adventure stood me in good stead. I came prepared to try new things and confident that no matter what the outcome I would make it work somehow.

the main intersection trail markings

This sense of adventure is one of the most important parts of a traveller’s mind-set. Even if you were not blessed with a crazy bush going father, you can practice developing it in everyday life. You can try the unknown food on the menu. Catch public transport for a day or make an effort to go to a part of the city you have never been before just to wander around and explore. Little things go a long way to getting you in the mind-set of adventure and your confidence grows expedientially.

Dad and I only spent a few hours in the bush, we clambered up ridges and slid down into valley’s full of Punga. We avoided Cutty grass, chewed on Hangehange and debated which Rimus were male or female. We only backtracked a few times and I slowly got the hang of Dads patented track marking system. He uses dead branches, only after a few days of bad weather, the difference between an obvious track and some random windfall is slim to none. I was impressed we only backtracked twice.

New Zealand bush looking over Huia

There is nothing quite like New Zealand native bush, the loamy smell, the Tui's call and the glowing green horizon through the trees. It is home to me, as familiar as a favourite blanket and the perfect way to reconnect for my week at home. There is nothing like standing in the dappled sunlight looking out over Huia and remembering all the similar adventures I have had in nature all over the world, to make me appreciate the sense of adventure my father so carefully cultivated.


Author of Stress Free Adventure Planning

If you enjoyed this article check out my post on the Mercer Bay hike or click here to get my FREE travel budget calculator and sign up for money saving tips.

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