Help deciding on tramps for mid November/December
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Hi, we are a couple with a toddler who we will be 4 weeks in NZ traveling with a campervan and stopping as often as possible for some tramping =D We have some good hiking and trekking experience, but we are still adapting to hiking with a baby. If all goes as planned, we will have "practiced" a lot here in Norway this summer before we go to NZ. We will start in mid November, finish in mid December and we are now trying to draft a first itinerary specially to decide whether we start in Auckland or Christchurch, and which parks we try to include (so we start booking the internal flight and campervan). So far, we spotted some regions and hikes, see below, but we are unsure about the weather. - Tongariro national park, for day trips such as from Whakappa visitor center to Tama saddle and back; and Mangateppo road to Mt Ngaurhoe or Central Crater and back. - Abel Tasman: the coast trekk and Tableland Circuit: - Nelson Lakes: around St Arnaud - Arthurs Pass: Cass Lagoon Saddle, Avalanche Peak, Goat Pass - Mt Cook: Miller Hut - Mt Aspiring: Routeburn to Harris Saddle, Aspiring hut and day trips - Fjordland: are there some nice day hikes there? I mainly found info about great walks and long trekks. How bad is the weather in Arthurs Pass, Mt Cook, Fjordland and Mt Aspiring at this time? What can we expect? Heavy rain? Light rain? The whole day? Whole weeks? We dont mind getting some rain, but it is not as fun to pass the treeline and not see a thing =D How are the snow conditions likely to be in Mt Aspiring, Miller Hut, Arthurs Pass and Tongariro? Can some of the tramps of those "areas" be walked without "snow equipment" (crampons, ice axe, etc)? At last, would you recommend me to start in the North or in the South? Any region to leave for the latest moment (towards mid December)? Thanks in advance and looking forward for visiting NZ =D
For Fiordland (Fjordland) there are many short walks on the way to Milford Sound. Have a look at this: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/places-to-visit/fiordland/teanau-milford-highway-map-factsheet.pdf Highlights are Lake Marian, Humboldt Falls, Homer Tunnel, The Chasm, and Key Summit. Key Summit and The Divide is the end of the Routeburn. You can walk all the way up the Routeburn to Lake Mackenzie in less then 3 hours, so 6-8 return with a baby I guess. November is still spring here so the weather can be very unsettled. Down south expect a lot of rain, maybe still some snow although it shouldn't hang around as the ground will be warming up. A typical weather system will bring rain for a couple of days and then it will be cloudy/fine for a couple of days and then the next system arrives. The rain can be just showers or it can can heavy all day and night... it varies. We are an island nation in the Roaring Fourties, we get island weather. Snow is likely to be mostly gone up to about 1500m. South facing slopes and gullies will hold patches for longer (the sun is in the north, here). When you visit a new place you should always go talk to the local Department of Conservation office where you can get local weather and snow conditions. Sure, start north and work South. Should be fine.
Thanks for the feedback! Is there a specific website for checking local weather and snow conditions? Or should I rather call the local DoC office? I think that we will start north to south and plan things based on a short term weather forecast. Cheers, Thomas
http://www.metservice.com/national/home ---> Mountains & Parks ---> National Parks
The Norwegian website at yr.no is quite popular down here as you can specific forecasts for individual mountains and lakes and it seems to be about as reliable as the NZ metservice, although their wind forecasts are completely useless. http://www.metvuw.com/forecast/forecast.php?type=rain®ion=nzsi&noofdays=10 is another site to check for rain predictions.
The met-service "Maps & Radar" is as good as anything. Agree that Mountains & Parks, but also "sky fields" is worth checking. Swellmap.co.nz has a good map showing predicted wind strength. www.metvuw.com/forecast also provides good maps and charts. I typically use Metservice and Swellmap for day trips, and triple check with metvuw for longer trips.
In additon to using the above wx sites, I'm a big fan of http://www.snow-forecast.com/maps/static/nz/full As well as precip (incl. rain and snow), they do cloud cover, wind direction and strength and temperature. I also use wunderground. Like yr.no, they can give very specific location forecasts e.g. Inchbonnie and Prices Valley. https://www.wunderground.com/q/locid:NZXX2048 Regarding metservice, they are often the most pessimistic when it comes to precipitation. It's often worth looking at their rural forecasts as well as the mountains and parks pages as this helps give a big picture of what's happening e.g. for us in the Canterbury foothills, checking out Culverden, Omarama and Twizel forecasts.
Site specific forecasts are no more useful than one for the region, if it isn't accurate. In the weeks leading up to my recent trip into the Douglas Range, I followed the yr.no forecast for Adelaide Tarn over a two week period and the forecast changed radically on a daily basis - didn't inspire confidence. Not as bad, but still highly variable was windytv.com and metservice, imo, is too general to be useful for a specific locayion in the hills. Really, the most consistent over the 2 weeks was bom.gov.au - but it doesn't actually give a forecast - you have to interpret the maps and develop your own predictions. Considering I locked in the dates for the trip 4 months in advance, i did pretty well picking the weather window of 16 great days in a row :)
You saw a weather window 4 months out ?.
Aaah, not as such :) Although, I've been very lucky with the last 5 trips across the ditch - all locked in around 4 months in advance, each between 10 and 20 days and perfect weather for each trip - Feb, Mar and Apr. I'm starting to think you kiwis rabbit on about the weather just to keep the tramps to yourselves :)
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