Also looking for advice and/or a partner in May
Posted on the "around the campfire forum": https://tramper.nz/?view=topic&messageid=65317#message65317
Deet minimum 80% more is better. It stinks and is quite poisonous but nothing matches its effectiveness. Impregnating clothes can help but there is a trick to makeing it work without wrecking the clothes. They cant bite through fabric so long long works
Hi Marian, As I messaged you (privately, and at length) I spent the entire last summer in Fiordland. As I shared, 80%+ DEET is THE way to go. Put that on daily, and sandflies aren't much of an issue at all. Even at Sandfly Point at the end of the Milford Track, or any of the other truly heinous sandfly hangouts in Fiordland. As I also offered, I have a nice little collection of topographical maps, of which you are welcome to borrow. Furthermore, if you are going to places that I don't have a map for, I'm happy to buy it/them and lend them to you, to help keep your costs down, not having to pay for something you're only going to use once. Eventually I want to collect all of NZs topo maps, so it's no drama for me to do this. Whilst you are not from New Zealand, despite what some claim, New Zealand conditions are NOT more extreme than what you seem to have experienced at length, and traveled to higher altitudes than most people on here, I'd imagine. As you know, wherever there are mountains, there are micro weather systems/patterns. Plan accordingly, and Bob's your Aunty. So don't be put off from working out the exact trip YOU want to do, then doing it. Yes of course, there are some extra considerations when tramping alone, but many of us on here do it all the time, despite some of those very same people vehemently warning against it. Also, the chances are good that you're going to meet people here organically that will be more than willing to join you on a tramping trip, whether they be locals or - more likely - other travelers. So long as you know within yourself that YOU are prepared, you'll be fine. And yes, a PLB is a must. I suggest that you don't buy one unless you plan on using it extensively all over the island/country. People are often quite reticent to buy secondhand PLBs; it's just not often done. So you could find yourself stuck with it or having to practically give it away. Not to mention the logistics of having a local address/emergency contact to register your PLB with. You can always hire them for short trips. Or, depending on when you're traveling, and how it marries up with my school term, if I'm busy and unable to get out tramping myself (I'm taking on 165 credits next year), you could potentially borrow mine. Don't stress too much; plan well, and you'll have an adventure of a lifetime! :)
When I did my Fiordland traverse, we found insect repellent a waste of time so gave up using it. However maybe it was only 20% DEET. I got given some 100% DEET in Mongolia and nowadays use 80% and have no probs but I haven't tested it in Fiordland. I once trialled a bottle of Vit B1 (thiamine) over the prescribed course and found that ineffective i.e. I was getting more bites than Frank. But I have some methylation mutations and my Vit B1 levels are borderline in the normal range despite lashings of vegemite every morning. I've got a head net but never used it. I imagine it would be quite hot (which could be a nice thing) and it might be tricky when it comes to eating.
@Kreig Thank you for both the reply and the message (sorry I'm about to submit my travelling form first and only if it gets approved, I'll start planning seriously- don't want to jinx it. Meanwhile I was just doing some preliminary research and checking the forums daily... Especially about the PLB, maybe I could give you a deposit of equal value and we'll talk about the rent fee itself? :D B/c yes I was apprehensive about registering it etc and even renting (what if the weather is bad for weeks and can't take advantage of it?) BTW I might have been at high altitudes (6000m), but that was in ideal conditions: e.g. with mountaineering crampons on packed snow, accompaned by a guide (well, roped to him) and generally on a gentle slope :D The 40% oxygen wasn't a big issue for me though, that's all I got (some endurance). Same when hiking at 5000, but with no snow and mostly horizontally for a week. I normally hike up to 2500m each year and those can be more difficult. @Honora, you are right we never wear the meshes, no matter how light they might be. @Everyone: Honestly with all the advice you guys have given me it seems that I'd only need to give more thought to transportation- b/c for destinations I'll be very open(thinking at least about Routerburn for now) + I aim for about a month. Minor question though: are hostels safe and in general where can I leave an extra backpack with spare clothes when I'd be tramping?
@marian generally NZ is a safe country and generally hostels are safe. Many hostels offer women-only dorms which helps foster a safe environment for women. Many hostels also offer storage for very reasonable rates.
Regarding topos - my offline backup that I take is to use https://www.topomap.co.nz/ to print detailed A4 targeted map(s) of my route - and then a high-level one for context (nearby peaks). I laminate these and keep them at the top of my pack.
$Gregor Disclaimer: I'm a guy :D
1 deleted post from Pro-active
Another vote for the Greenstone/Caples and Hollyford Tracks. Heaphy is also a great all year option with lovely huts and diverse environments along the way. Well maintained track which you may share in May with a few mountain bikers but it is not such a busy great walk as Milford or Routeburn. Logistics for start and finish can be tricky but flights to either end of the track are a good option or car transfer is pretty standard. We have walked Milford 3 times in last 5 years and Routeburn twice and always found tropical strength deet repellant sufficient although we cover up with long sleeves/long pants or shorts-gaiters to reduce exposure. Sandflies tend to leave you alone as long as you are moving so most of the time not a worry. Most at risk when having a swim/icy dunk😊 at the end of the day. Huts have been pretty good on the great walks with screens and sandflies mostly disappear after dark so sleep is generally ok. I have carried a headnet but only used it at Sandfly Point waiting for the boat. As for litter etc on the Milford, we have never spotted any. Beautiful, pristine walk with noticeable increases in the bird population over the last couple of years. Numbers during the season have been capped per day for many years now so we have never found it crowded. Usually about half kiwis and the rest internationals so fun to catch up and chat in the huts in the evening. We have only walked in season when all the bridges are in and facilities staffed. Hope you have a wonderful time!
@macnut I was thinking of maybe combining them with Routeburn, so that I can do a loop and get back to my rented car (presuming no break ins into it), in May if public transportation is going to be a problem. Still not quite understand the risk of avalanches in mid May on Routeburn (and hence possible removal of bridges) if the highest point is only 1200m (if memory serves me well)?
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