Top Tips for tramping with kids (including overnight tramps)

Tramping 1

Whether you’re living in or visiting New Zealand, it’s only when you get into the great outdoors that you really appreciate what a truly beautiful country this is. Not only is going for a walk free and great exercise, spending time outside can also bring families closer together (think; no screen time = conversations!) You might have kids who will happily march along tracks but if you don’t, try some of these tips to get them motivated!

  • aim for a short walk (e.g. DOC suggested time of 30mins might be enough). Have a look here at short walks from 15 minutes – 5 hours around the country.
  • try to find a walk that ends with something to see e.g. a waterfall, a lighthouse, a big rock, the sea etc so the kids can feel a sense of achievement at getting to the destination.
    Split Apple Rock
  • go with another family – shared experiences are often more fun (= less moaning!)
  • pack treats to enjoy along the way (see next point) and if timing allows, perhaps a picnic to have at your end point.
  • make up a bag of scroggin and let everyone choose one of the ingredients – it doesn’t just have to be nuts and fruit; chunky cereal, mini marshmallows, chocolate, pretzels etc all make for an interesting and energy boosting mix!
  • keep an eye on the kids’ energy levels, break out a snack if someone seems to be lagging behind.
  • if they’re really reluctant, having something to look for will take the focus off ‘walking’ e.g. the DOC Kiwi Guardian Programme or download the GeoCaching App before you go.

Perhaps you’ve got kids that have done several shorter tramps and you want to take this further? An overnight stay in a hut is the next step….

DOC hutSome suggestions:

  • look for a hut that is accessible with a 3 or so hour walk, so you can walk in, have time to enjoy being at the hut, make dinner, toast marshmallows, look at the stars, go to sleep and still have the energy to walk out in the morning! Alternatively there are huts that you can drive to and do day walks from.
  • make your kids carry something, even if it’s just their water and an extra layer.
  • have the kids help chose what food you’ll eat and the dinner you’ll make (see below).
  • talk to the local DOC office about what to expect on the walk e.g. river crossings (or alternative routes if the rivers are too high) hut facilities, expected walking times.
  • check the weather forecast, be mindful of heavy rain leading up to your walk if for instance you need to cross rivers.

What to take (on any walk):Camelbak

  • warm layer for everyone (merino has a great space:warmth ratio!)
  • water for everyone to drink in e.g. a camelbak so hands can still be free.
  • raincoat and either a spare pair of shorts or waterproof trousers.
  • sunhat or warm beanie (depending on the season), sunblock.
  • plenty of snacks.
  • trainers/running shoes with good soles (no need to buy boots for kids).

Extras for overnight stays:

Check what provisions the hut already has e.g. pots, plates so you know what NOT to take!

  • toilet paper, hand sanitiser, matches, candles, torches (head torches if possible), dry kindling to start a fire.
  • easy to prepare meals (e.g. pasta + sauce + sausages for dinner toast + bacon for breakfast?)
  • pack of cards or similar for adults and/or kids to play, earplugs and eye mask.
  • jandals or similar for walking around the hut and going to the toilet.
  • something to sleep in (merino or regular pjs). There’s no need to bring clean clothes – dry any wet clothes / shoes outside or by the fire and wear them again to walk out in the morning.
  • sleeping bags. Consider taking a sheet to lie on top of 1. in case it’s very hot and 2. hut mattresses are covered in plastic and wriggly people in sleeping bags means they can be very noisy!