Author: Krager | Published: 3 JUNE 2020
When winter hits it doesn't mean the end of outdoor fun, with the right equipment and gear, you can make a rewarding escape from the fireplace and indoor winter living.
In the colder seasons, gone are the maddening crowds of Summer. You might just find your favourite spot, line-up, track or campsite completely deserted. Just you, you and a mate, or you and your family left to enjoy mother nature in some of her finest, yet coldest days of the year.
Hiking in winter can be a rewarding and an amazingly beautiful experience. There's nothing like hearing first foot falls crunching on frost laden tracks which lead you to breathtaking views, providing you with some rare solitary quiet time to reflect and think. These special times are well worth the additional effort required of donning some extra warm layers and adding a waterproof shell to your life.
Crowd-less tracks and the anticipation of a hot meal after a day's hike is a just reward for a winter expedition, whatever the length or challenge. In the winter months it's important to layer up and have the ability to remove layers as you get hot on the uphills. Pack your beanie, merinos, plenty of water and have the correct footwear for the conditions. Clothing technology that absorbs moisture as you sweat means you won't get cold when you cool down. Always tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back.
Get out there and have some fun on a hike this winter.
Photo credit: Kaleb Anderson | Location: Nepal.
2. Mountain biking
Although a few MTB tracks do close for the Winter months, most remain open are completely rideable. With a little winter bike preparation and some warm breathable layers, trail riding in winter can be a fun experience.
The challenge of a little mud and the odd puddle often brings some unanticipated laughs and surprises. Winter conditions can actually make you a better rider, you'll be hitting terrain that is more challenging when wet, frosty and muddy. If you can ace a trail in the winter months, it will be a breeze come summer time.
Winter is also a great time to really test rider friendships, dragging your mates along on a winter ride is always harder, but you can probably guarantee them a few laughs along the way, especially if they are following. Wet lubrication after cleaning your bike in winter is a must and will keep your bike rolling smooth for the next weekend's mid winter ride.
If you need a bike service, book at your local store or check out our service plans here.
Photo credit: Miles Holden | Location: Queenstown.
Solo or small group camping in winter can bring clarity to one's thinking that a crowded summer trip just can't provide. A whole campsite to yourself, rising early to watch the dawn breaking through the mist and frost, while sipping a hot drink makes any start to the day a good one.
There is a reassurance and reward you experience when you carry everything on your back you need to survive for a night or two in a remote campsite. This type of camping is a simple life pleasure that everyone should try and experience, at least once. These winter overnighters are perfect and cost effective weekend getaways.
For most, there are plenty of easily accessible campsites within a few hours drive from home. A good tip for winter camping is to make sure you have several layers between you and the ground, think about an extra groundsheet under the tent, a sleeping mat and a good quality winter rated sleeping bag.
Photo credit: Switchback travel
4. Off-road Moto
Riding off-road is super fun in the Winter, everyone will enjoy a bit of sliding around and getting muddy! You can usually hire bikes and gear to wear to see if you enjoy it before purchasing your own apparel, helmet or goggles.
The kids will love it too! Most places have options to hire different sized quad bikes so you can go on a trip together. Make sure you've got some warm base layers on.
Check out some Moto parks here.
5. Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand is a favourite pastime that can be enjoyed across a multitude of ski-fields around the country, with snow on the fields from June to October. Nothing beats the feeling of skiing or riding through fresh snow on a crisp, cold winter's morning.
Those who make the extra effort to be on the first chairlift/s of the day are often rewarded with the best runs of the day, and sometimes in a lifetime. Having the right gear on the mountain is essential and can make the difference between being warm, dry and having an epic time, to being wet, cold and miserable. Layering is the way to go to ensure you can maintain a good temperature no matter the exertion or sweat factor, along with a waterproof jacket and pants - and don't forget your helmet!
Snowboard photo credit: Vaughan Brookfield | Location: Queenstown. Ski Photo Credit: Pete Oswald | Location: Austria.
6. Trail running
Some say once you run dirt, you'll never turn back. Be warned, trail running is highly addictive.
The simplicity of being able to hit the trails with little or no gear, beyond a good pair of trail running shoes and your running apparel, makes this sport easy, accessible and fun. There is such variety of terrain available, from gravel paths and parks of the urban environment, through to challenging single tracks that take you deep into the mountains and back country. Winter is a great time to hit the trails, again there is less people, and you tend not to overheat as much on those long uphill slogs.
Having the right footwear is the key to having fun when running trails. Trail shoes are stronger than road-running shoes to handle the rough terrain and generally are a lower profile to help prevent ankle rolls. They also have rugged tread patterns that handle the mud and wet conditions better. A good tip for winter running is after you've washed your shoes, stuff them with newspaper or paper towels to help dry them properly so they are in top condition for your next run.
Photo credit: Trail Blog & Under Armour.
7. Winter Surfing
We'll admit, it is a little daunting getting in the water during the coldest time of year, but once you're in, you'll see what we mean!
The waves are the best, and cold water is known to improve mental health - something that can deteriorate during the Winter when staying inside.
The cold is nothing a good winter wetsuit can't fix. They can be so thick and buoyant that it feels like you have whale blubber and feel super comfortable.
DK Surf School in AKL and HAM is great if you want learners lessons.
Get out there and challenge yourself on some new activities this winter!