My favourite 10 hikes of 2019

And here we are again. 2019 is gone and I’m about to look back. I don’t look back very often, I’m trying to enjoy the present, leave the past at rest and be excited about the future. However, every now then it’s just fine and healthy to stop and think about what happened in the previous year and to check in and make sure I’m on track to do what I want to do.

Hiking in 2019 in a nutshell

The biggest thing for me as a hiker was that my girlfriend (oh, I should say wife actually as we’re married now!) and I decided to move back to New Zealand. We did it right after our hiking adventure in Cyprus. New Zealand is an amazing country for outdoor activities and it would take a lifetime or two to get to know the New Zealand mountains even just reasonably well. I also started to work full time so there haven’t been many opportunities to do any long-distance hikes. I’d count only 3 for the last year. Oh well, that’s just life.

Another important event in my hiking life was that I joined the CTC, the Christchurch Tramping Club. I met there some nice folks to tramp with. At the end of the year, I even led a couple of trips from which the Brass Monkey Bivouac trip stands out.

Last winter I started to hike regularly with crampons and an ice-axe which was a lot of fun. If I’m going to stay in New Zealand for a while, these will become my essential pieces of gear.

I got into hut bagging which is a great source of entertainment for me. It’s like Munro bagging in the UK but here in New Zealand, we bag huts. Last year I visited 34 different huts, 35 in total. That’s not bad – however, considering that there are over 950 backcountry public huts plus well over 1000 private huts, it might take me a while to visit them all. Not that I intend to though. For me, hut bagging is just another layer of fun on top of hiking experience and it’s important to know that it’s not why I’m going to the mountains at the first place.

2020 Outlook

What’s the outlook for 2020? Oh well, nobody knows for sure but I’ll most likely be tackling tramps in New Zealand only. I don’t plan to go overseas this year. I’d like to do some winter camping on the tops, bag over 50 huts and do at least one long hike like the Northern Circuit or the Dusky Trail. It’s just a rough idea though – as usual, we plan and life changes.

Anyway, let’s move on into my 10 favorite hikes of 2019 which will never be forgotten.

1. Hiking across Karpaz Peninsula, Northern Cyprus

The weather and mood were not ideal but looking back at the whole Cypriotic experience, I really enjoyed it. Just me, Anna and the Meditterian winter.

Bivy on top of the hills

2. From Lake Clearwater to Mystery Lake in Hakatere Conservation Area, Canterbury

Very easy-going hiking experience. Lovely crispy morning at the beginning, sunny in the middle and nicely fresh at the end.

3. Gillespie Pass Circuit: Epic hike in Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand

My first hike after coming back to New Zealand. Rebonding with the island and my now regular tramping mate, Kupkin.

This is Kupkin at the end of Makarora crossing but I can assure you that in the middle of the river the water level was up to his chest

4. Captain Creek Hut, Middy Creek Hut and Rocks Hut: a night and a day in Richmond Range

Lovely adventure with my Chinese sister Emma and Kupkin. Lots of good old night tramping.

Kupkin & Emma

5. Winter hike to Angelus Hut in Nelson Lakes National Park

This trip was epic. My favorite winter trip so far and one of the most epic snowy adventure ever.

Anna cramponing

6. Mt Misery via McKay Stream, Black Range

Tiring but great trip led by Bryce from the CTC. Just a day trip but even day trips can be inspiring enough to make it to the top 10.

7. Mt Fyffe to Kowhai Saddle Circuit in Kaikoura Ranges

My first taste of Kaikoura Ranges. We did the trip with my friend Sanita who’s just told me she’s decided to move back to Europe – also, for this reason, I will remember the good times that we had up in Kowhai Hut.

It’s pretty steep up there

8. Cass-Lagoon Saddle Track

One of my favorite trips of the year. Perfect weather, beautiful rivers to cross and lots of beech forests to hide in from the scorching sun.

The standard water level is already quite high

9. Brass Monkey Bivouac from Lucretia Valley and down via Duchess Stream

The great off-trail adventure across Lewis Pass will long be remembered. Especially the part that included climbing bluffs and waterfalls in Duchess Stream.

10. John Reid Hut via Chummies Track

Great pre-wedding honeymoon adventure with Anna. Recommended for folks new to tramping.

John Reid Hut during the sunset

 

About the Author

Michal
I lived pretty common life for a while. I did my studies, my second studies, my third studies, my first job, my second job and my third job. I wasn’t really sure what’s going on so in 2014, I left my home country to learn about the world. I’m still not sure what’s going on but I enjoy it much more.

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