First tramp to NZ from Michigan USA - Resv at Huts

My wife and I (Retirees in our 60s) are 30 days away from beginning our first ever tramp in NZ. We have Abel Tasman, Milford, Keplar, Routeburn, Mt Cook/Mueller treks all scheduled and huts reserved (February/March). I did not plan to carry a tent, just a tarp for emergency, as we have reservations at the huts, but I have heard that huts may be over-booked or people stay in them without reservations. My wife and I love to take our time and enjoy the outdoors and take plenty of pictures, rather than race to the hut to claim a bed, versus the floor. We have backpacked many places around the world and have not ran into this issue, yet (luck i expect). Is it an issue in NZ? Last thing we want to do is cause a stir upon arrival to a hut, as we will be tramping with these same people for a few days, I expect.
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I will echo what @madpom and @Gregor said. Just declare anything you are concerned about. I declare all foods even if packaged, just, because as @madpom says it is much less painful than copping a fine. The customs folk just look at me a bit weird an tell me everything is fine and I am on my way and if something is not they just take it off you and no harm done. Much better than the alternatives!
Great advice about the food and gear, THANK YOU. Last one, several have stated bug repelant isn't enough. Should we treat our clothing with permethrin?
use good bug repelant liberally and you should be fine. Best is the deet based repelant but some people suggest this isnt good for you. I have tried a natural lemon and citronella based repelant which worked well enough on mosquitos and sand flys but attracted bees.In Able Tasman you are in wasp country and if this stuff attracts bees it could attract wasps. On that basis alone I would stick to deet based repelant.
I echo the cover up advice. Light (cool) long sleeved & long legged clothes for around camp. Wide brimmed hat (but soft brim so squashable into pack) and a $20 sand-fly net to go over head and hat and fasten around an upturned collar or polo neck. And maybe light 'driving' gloves. Note that mosquito nets are too course (big holes). Must be sandfly/midge/no-see-um mesh to work if you choose the chemical free approach. I find repellents only partly effective and 100% unpleasent on skin and especially face. And I throw herbicides & pesticides around for a living so i'm not just some anti-chem nut. But your experience may be different wrt irritation from bug repellant and that may be ok for you if you can deal with it on your skin.
Regarding gas In huts - the online walk brochures mention the gas availability under ‘what to bring’ and sometimes under the hut descriptions. From memory, the Milford has gas, as does the Kepler. I’m starting the Kepler this coming Sunday and will probably save weight by bringing a small BRS stove and titanium pot instead of the Jetboil so I can use the gas in the huts and make a cuppa during the day with a small canister. On the Rakiura Tk, however, there is no gas in the huts so I’ll bring a Jetboil instead. No need to bring a tent or air mattress. No need to race! You are going to get a bed in the hut - that’s what you have paid for! The wardens will likely check tickets - but if not, for any issues just ask them. People who have booked tent sites are not allowed to use the huts, and have separate cooking facilities on the great walks. On the first night of the Routeburn there were discovered to be two more hikers than beds in the Routeburn Falls hut because they had come too far and were supposed to be staying at the first Routeburn Flats hut. They had to walk back! All sorted out with politeness by the warden. Which walks are you thinking of in Tassie?
Robert - I travel all the time in and out of both the US and New Zealand, any pre-packaged (sealed) food is fine, I was just back in the US and travelled back with some hiking staples from Walmart, no issues. You simply declare it on the incoming card, the very first question usually asks about 'food' and you just tick 'yes'. They'll ask you what you have and after you explain they'll just send you to xray. Things like fruit is a no go, as anything made from wood, can't come in. Medicine both over the counter and prescription is OK, the rule of thumb when traveling with prescriptions meds is to keep it in original packaging with your name on it. Saying that, I travel all the time internationally with prescription meds and have never even been questioned, but if you're nervous just bring a note from your Dr just in case. The larger issue will be the condition of your hiking gear, make sure your shoes are clean, use warm water and an old toothbrush to remove any dirt, they will want to inspect them. Clean the tips of your trekking poles, tent pegs, etc...that's the stuff they worry about.
The food issue is not as simplistic as some want to think. Quarantine wants to exclude food that contains poultry, dairy, eggs. All food needs to be declared. Let them assess it. There is no shortage of food in NZ. Options are as good as you would get anywhere else.
Sorry mate but there is a significant difference between American and New Zealand supermarkets in terms of selection, in particular to processed hiker type foods. Someone who was used to resupplying at a place like Walmart in the US would run into far less options here, this may or may not be an issue.
I’ve often brought food with me from Australia to NZ including freeze dried meals, nuts/raisins, muesli, fish in pouches etc - just to save time when going straight into a hike. Freeze dried meals are a third cheaper in NZ from supermarkets than in Australia though. So I also bring them back to Australia with me. I always declare the food at customs and never had an issue. (Unlike that sad sad day I packed 2 kg of honey in my carry on from Auckland to Melbourne, forgetting that honey is a ‘gel’ and has to be put in the checked luggage. The lot got confiscated by customs! I’ll never make that mistake again).
That's my experience as well, having egg or dairy product in a sealed processed package is not going to be an issue, but if for some insane reason you are going to arrive in Auckland with a dozen eggs from Michagan, then yes, they will be confiscated. Kraft mac and Cheese, Knorr sides, powdered milk in original packaging, freeze dried food, sealed tuna pouches, etc...won't be an issue, just tick the food box on the incoming card and they'll do the rest. If it's an problem they'll let you know. It's very simple.
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Forum Beginners and newbies
Started by Robert Brosko
On 7 January 2020
Replies 75
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