Summer Hike Ideas: Mount Strachan

Now that we have finally been graced with some nice weather in Vancouver, it’s time to hit the trails!

Mount Strachan is a beautiful and challenging hike on Cypress Mountain, and one I recommend if you are into:

  •  Circle route hikes (it’s not an out and back trek)- lots of variation in scenery
  • Good views on a nice day
  • Big uphill scrambly portion “Christmas Gully”
  • Site of a plane crash & wreckage
  • Easy to access from cypress mountain.
  • Beautiful views of the Howe sound and Garibaldi mountains on a clear day

Mount Strachan is:

  • 10.5 KM’S
  • 550 M Elevation gain
  • Not an easy hike, good amount of rocky portions to navigate.  I would rate this hike as intermediate.
  • Best done between July and October once the snow has melted (the scrambly portions are pretty dangerous if still wet and slippery).

The trail starts from the Cypress Ski Mountain resort.  For complete directions please refer to this website.

The first part of the trail meanders through the woods alongside Yew Lake.

Keep an eye out for beautiful birds:


And beautiful huge trees!


After reaching a few junctions and crossing a few bridges you reach the Bowen Lookout, overlooking the Howe sound with a beautiful view of Bowen Island.  This is a side trek trail- and worth checking out:


After trekking through the forest you will reach a wooden map board, and then two wooden bridges.  This is where you enter Strachan Meadows and are about to start the climb up the gully to the top of the hike.  There aren’t many marker points through here, but just stay left of the gully and follow the rocks, and the eventual trail path to make it to the top.  It’s a bit of a slog, and scramble, but have fun with it 🙂

Once you get to the top, there is an option to head right or left, head left first for the first viewpoint.  You will go right later before you start your descent over the other side of the mountain.

You get a really great view of the Lions (middle photo), another very popular hike here in Vancouver.


Once you’ve rested up it’s time to head over the second lookout.  You walk back towards where you came up from Christmas Gully and then head straight across to the second lookout.  It’s very easy to navigate.

Once you’ve had a good look at the second lookout it’s time to start heading over the back of the mountain heading in the opposite direction that you came up Christmas Gully. Walk along the rocky surface at the top of the mountain a little ways down along the ski lift, aiming to find two orange markers that will get you on the descending trail back in the forest.  It took us a bit of time to find these.  We saw other people coming up different routes, so be sure you find the trail markers and forested path or else you will miss the plane crash!

Within 30 minutes of descending you come across a plane crash from 1963!  This was a T-33 Navy jet on a training mission.  It took several days to locate the crash site, and much of the site is still preserved- as you can see!

After the plane crash we found the route not to be very well marked, and in some cases we were worried we had got on the wrong trail.  Ensure you have these directions with you!  The downhill portion seemed to take a very long time, which is why we had thought we had gone the wrong way.  It also seemed like we were heading in the wrong direction, but the trail eventually veers back towards Cypress mountain.

As we were finishing the hike we came upon a plethora of “BEAR IN AREA” signs!!  I was happy to have seen these all at the end, so I didn’t have to be too freaked out while we hiked 🙂


I hope you get out and enjoy Cypress Mountain and the Mount Strachan Hike.  Let me know if you make it out.  If you get a nicer day then we did I would love to see your photos.

  •  Katherine

Hot Springs & Hiking Near Whistler

Need a weekend getaway to somewhere peaceful, and out in the middle of nowhere?  Want to combine this with a great hike?

One of my favourite weekend trips Kyle and I have taken over the past few years was out to the Skookumchuck Hot Springs located north of Pemberton.  Although a bit of a drive from Vancouver, if you make this trip into a weekend away, and include a nice hike on the way back then it’s well worth it.  Or you could pay to spend the weekend at the hot springs and relax the weekend away.  To read more about the hot springs themselves, where they get there name, and the history of the area, follow the links from this site:  LINK

The hot springs are nothing fancy in themselves, but they are definitely relaxing, peaceful, and set in a very beautiful location.  If you aren’t into roughing it a little bit, this won’t be a trip for you!

The first step is to gear up with your tent, food etc. and head out on the 3.5 hour drive north of Pemberton to the hot springs.  There are really great driving directions found on this site:  LINK.  That link is also the site where I found all of my original information for planning this trip.  On the way there we made a few pit stops to stretch the legs.  One in particular was Nairn falls, which was located about 20 minutes north of Whistler on the right hand side of the road.  We also stopped at Shannon falls viewpoint, near Squamish.

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Here are some shots I took from the car on the way up, trying to capture the beauty!  It was quite a drive, but relatively easy to navigate given the directions above.  Be prepared for quite a long stretch of gravel road near the end of the trip.  It was fine in our truck, and at the point of our trip would have been ok for travel in most vehicles.



When you arrive to the hot springs site (after travelling on a gravel road for quite some time!), you can pay for your campsite before entering as there should be a person working at the gate who will take your payment and let you in.  We paid $30 for 2 people to camp for the night, and also purchased firewood on top of that from him (which wasn’t a great price, so if you can bring your own I would recommend that).

The campsites are beautiful!  Located right along the Lillooet River



Pretty good spot to set up!


10 steps down from our campsite


Looking left along the river from our campsite


Looking up from the river’s edge to our campsite


Looking down at the river’s edge from our ‘tent’ – aka we sleep in the back of our truck!  Luxury camping.

Once you set up camp, throw on your swim suit and head over to the hot springs.  They are very close to the campsites, just a couple of minutes walk.  Oh and beware- swim suits were optional, especially as the night rolled in.

The hot tubs are heated from an underground hot spring, which is visible, but you can’t bathe in that one because it is deemed too hot!  Instead, the hot springs are funnelled into a collection of random old hot tubs, wooden tubs, and large blue bins!  It is really nothing fancy, and a pretty eclectic bunch of bins and tubs, but as long as you aren’t expecting Spa Scandinave style you will really enjoy it! Each tub is heated to a slightly different temperature so you can rotate around and find one of your choosing.  They even had one freezing cold tub, which felt amazing and invigorating to jump into in between the hot ones.


A view of the hot ‘pools’ with the spring located to the back left


A couple of the tubs.  The closest one in the photo was the freezing cold one!



One of the other larger hot tubs located near the back.  This one really was an actual hot tub like you would have at your home- out in the woods!


Where the hot water comes from.


Another view.  You get the idea- it’s nothing fancy!





So relaxing, you can barely keep your eyes open!


I love this photo!  Kyle looks like a little happy kid in a play pen!



Tub hoppin’

That night was very early night considering how relaxed we felt after a few hours of tub hopping, and how peaceful it was to sleep beside the river.

After one night of camping and enjoying the pools we decided to make our way for a hike before heading back to Vancouver.  Unfortunately we became so incredibly relaxed from the tubs we didn’t make it to our ultimate goal of hiking Joffre Lakes, which is more of a major hike in the area.  Instead we ended up wandering around Alice Lake, and finding two short hiking trails that suited us better.  Alternatively, a nice relaxing, but long trail would have been checking out Chekamus lake (if you go up in the summer).  We went up in the winter months, and weren’t sure if the road was 100 % accessible or if there was snow on the ground.  Chekamus lake is a relatively flat hike, about 14 km, and would make a perfect end to your weekend.  If neither of those sound interesting, chose another one off of this extensive list.


On the drive home

One final tip:  We stopped in Pemberton at a coffee shop and got some delicious muffins the next day.  They were so good that after splitting one we went back in and got some more.  The bad news, I can’t remember the name of the shop.  If you know it you must comment so everyone else can enjoy!

Let me know if you make it out here 🙂  I hope my pictures did it justice and you find it just as relaxing as we did.

Hiking/Canoeing Pitt Lake & Widgeon Falls- beginner friendly

Looking for an easy canoe ride to a short hike ending in beautiful waterfalls, and all within an hour and a bit drive from Vancouver?  You should check out Pitt Lake and Widgeon falls.

Pitt Lake is located about 1.25 hours from Vancouver.  Once you get to Pitt lake you have about a 45 minute canoe ride until you come to the start of the trail for a 6 km round trip hike to Widgeon falls.  The whole trek is very beginner friendly, and makes a nice easy day for families, locals, and tourists!

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The first step was securing a canoe for the day.  Luckily my lovely friend loaned his to us.  If you don’t have access to one, we saw people renting them from a small shop right at Pitt lake.  On the trail report website found HERE they have provided the name and contact number for this canoe rental company.


Making funny faces is my specialty…

Once you’ve got your canoe organized, make your way to Pitt Lake, google maps driving directions HERE.


Nice views on the drive 


And You’ve arrived!


From Pitt lake you can find a parking spot (often crowded here), and then head out on your paddle.  The paddle is pretty much straight across the lake from where you launch your canoe and you will head into a large clearing between two stretches of trees (you can see in the photo above, you will head straight across and head to the left of that tree line straight ahead).  We found we were a little unsure as to the exact canoeing directions, listed HERE, but if you just paddle straight across the lake (slightly to the left), into the clearing, and then stay left for the entire paddle you will make it to Widgeon falls.  This is what the area looks like once you arrive to start the hike.  On the day we were here (I believe it was Canada Day) there were PLENTY of other canoes and hikers.



Plenty of “Bear in Area” signs, which was concerning for me.  But we didn’t see any!


Locking up the canoe, and getting started on our trek.  How did we make a mess already?

Once you have safely stowed your canoe (up on the grass to stay safe from the tidal lake) you can start on the hike!  Make your way up towards the information signs and then head right.  You start walking through some long grass, and the trail eventually heads more into tree dense woods until you come upon the waterfall after about 1 hour.  For all the detailed hiking directions check HERE.  The hike is short, less than an hour if you are quick, and eventually you come across some large rocks and beautiful waterfalls.



Happy hikers



Make sure you bring a lunch and plan on spending some time exploring around the waterfall area 🙂





Definitely a little dangerous, and not advised!





Oh, and if it’s a super hot day like our day was, then pack your suit for a swim on the hike back!  We found this little spot just off the trail.  The water was FREEZING but especially refreshing during our hike.


With the drive to and from Vancouver this is definitely a full day trip, even though the hike itself is only about 6 km round trip and the canoe trip is about 1.5 hours for a beginner.

One more thing…on the way back in the canoe we found the current to be VERY strong the day we were there.  Be prepared to have to paddle much harder on the way back and to have two strong people in the canoe to do the paddling.  I do think this paddle was beginner friendly, but just be ready to work on the way back a little bit harder!

Let me know if you make it out to Widgeon falls and Pitt Lake this summer, I would love to hear about it 🙂

Hiking near Portland, Oregon- Multnomah Falls

Over Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in 2016 Kyle and I drove from Vancouver down to Portland for the weekend.  True to our style, we camped in the back of our truck and hiked/explored the Portland area for the weekend.  (if you are looking for a website with free campsites check out ) we have used it on numerous trips across the US and never had any issues.  It was incredibly rainy for the most of the weekend, yet we still fell in love with this area of the States!  If you haven’t been, I highly recommend making the drive.

As part of many things we did that weekend, I wanted to share one of our hikes.  We hiked in the Columbia Gorge Area at a spot called Multnomah Falls, located HERE on Google Maps.  I have never hiked such a short hike with so many beautiful waterfalls.   To get to the hike from downtown Portland we drove along a beautiful stretch of road called the Historic Columbia River Highway.  There were many beautiful spots to hop out of the car for photos.  IMG_3775.jpgIMG_3776.jpgIMG_3780.jpg


Wearing my “Sunday Best” 🙂


Once you make it to Multnomah Falls there are plenty of hikes to take part in.  For those who are only there to see the main waterfalls, the good news in you can park your car and don’t have to do any walking :).  Here are some photos of what you can see from just a short walk from your car.




After checking out the beautiful falls, for those that are in for a short hike there is a 2.7 mile “Loop 1” you can walk along, and there is also a 5.2 mile “Loop 2”, which is the one we did.  Take a look at the map for details.   We found the trail to be quite popular and busy, which was helpful because it wasn’t especially well marked.  We never actually got lost but there were a few stream crossings and sketchy points where we were happy to be able to ask around for the next directions.  Be sure you have your map with you.

The start of Loop 2 begins with a pretty major ascent up to the Multnomah Falls Lookout.  If you are a seasoned hiker you will have no problem, but we saw many families with children as well as people in jeans/people who didn’t appear to be regular hikers trudging up the hill.  For those of you who hike around Vancouver- you could think of this part of the hike as pretty Grouse Grindish.  You do most of the total climbing of the trail in the first section.  You could consider hiking the trail in the opposite direction and that would mean descending this portion instead of ascending.


Your reward from parts of the ascent.


Making our way up.

Once you reach the falls lookout, it’s all fun and games from there!  You meander for the rest of the hike through a variety of terrain (quite slippery at times) and get the most beautiful view of more than a handful of waterfalls.  IMG_3756.jpgIMG_3758.jpgIMG_3761.jpgIMG_3762.jpgIMG_3763.jpgIMG_3766.jpg

You might even spot some deer too!  These guys were super close to the trail, and were clearly not startled by us.  If was beautiful to watch them up close.



Besides the first ascent to the top of the falls lookout (which many people were hiking up and right back down) the rest of the hike was moderately difficult.  There weren’t many other inclines, yet the trail was a little bit technical at times with some rocks to maneuver over etc. so consider wearing hiking boots.

Check out the Columbia River Gorge webpage for more details on the falls, as well as a link to a PDF which has both the loop hikes listed.

With plenty of rest and photo breaks, snack breaks, and time to enjoy the scenery this hike took us 3 hours.  If you are a slow hiker, or like more breaks budget for 4-5.

Oh and don’t forget the most important part- stop in at the shop and lodge on the way back for a treat!!!!


I am really not sure the hike was strenuous enough to warrant a cookie that size…but it was tasty!

I look forward to heading back to Portland and hiking more of Oregon’s beautiful hikes.

And just for fun, I thought I would throw in some photos of some of our other highlights from the trip:


Having coffee on a double decker bus in the “Hawthorne District” – Aka hipster area…very neat spot to check out.  If you like books you have to go to Powell’s Books on Hawthorne.  Bring your Visa card.


At a Komboucha bar on Hawthorne street.  Serve yourself flight tastings, and board games!

And the drive home was lovely.  We chose to take the long route and head out to the coast and follow route 101 back up towards Seattle.  IMG_3796.jpgIMG_3802.jpgIMG_3805.jpgIMG_3811.jpg

Well, I hope you have a great time if you head out in this direction.  Let me know if there are any hikes in the Portland area that you recommend for me!

Hiking the Abel Tasman Trail- New Zealand

Welcome to my first official travel and adventure post on my blog!  My hopes for these types of posts is to inspire others to stay fit and healthy in order to be able to get out and explore as many parts of the world as we can!  I hope to share with you a variety of hikes/ bike rides/ running races and other adventures I have participated in throughout Canada and throughout the world to give you some ideas for local weekend trips, or other ideas for larger travel vacations.

I’ve been travelling the world via fitness adventures since I ran my first marathon in Hawaii at the age of 17.  Personally, I think that seeing a country on foot or bike is the best way to really take it all in.  Plus- the added bonus is that often times you come back from vacation even fitter and healthier than you were back home 🙂

I hope you enjoy these blogs I post and I am really looking forward to sharing these adventures with you.

First up:  Hiking the Abel Tasman Trail- New Zealand!Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 12.16.58 PM

This past January 2017 I finished up a beautiful 4 week trip in New Zealand by solo
hiking the Abel Tasman Trail.  The trail is located on the North West coast of the South island in New Zealand, and is considered one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.  The track is extremely popular, with thousands of visitors hiking parts of the trail, or kayaking the coastline each year.

There are many different routes you can take when hiking the Abel Tasman, with a variety of start points.  I won’t get into all the details here, but if you are looking to hike the track on your own, check out the Abel Tasman website for details on how you can hike it:

Hiking 4 days on my own in the woods was a fantastic opportunity to rejuvenate in nature, feed my desire for exploration, foster a sense of independence, and explore some of the most scenic coastlines of my life!

Day #1:  Hike from Marahau to Bark Bay- 25 kms

After bussing from Nelson to the start of the trek I hopped on the trail and was ready to go (more details on the logistics at the bottom of this post)!  The track starts through a forested path with many beautiful overlooking points out towards the coastline.  There are a variety of off shooting paths you can take to various lookout points.  I decided against most of these because I knew I was planning a total of 25 kms this day and didn’t know exactly how long this would take me (it took me 8 hours total with a 1 hour lunch break, and a few water/snack breaks).  If you are planning your own timing for this stretch consider that I was hiking at a pretty fast pace, but was also carrying a 50 pound bag on my back.  If you are an experienced hiker you can probably do the trek in a similar time to me.

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A beautiful viewpoint along the trail.

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Happy trail hiker!

After wandering through the forest for some time the trail started to ascend out of the trees into a sandier trail before descending into Anchorage where you can rest for a nice lunch on the beach.  This sandy section reminded me of trekking along a dessert in Arizona!  As a side note- if you wanted to hike less in a day you could stay at the bunks or campsites here.  The trek from Marahau to Anchorage was 12.4 km’s.

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Heading down to Anchorage

After a nice lunch at Anchorage beach you need to consider the tide tables before moving onto Bark Bay.  During low tide you are able to cross a much shorter distance, rather than during high tide you add 3 km’s to your trek!  The Abel Tasman website has the tide tables listed for you, so you can keep an eye closely on your time if you want to avoid the high tide trek.  I didn’t make it during low tide because I had bussed 2 hours from Nelson that morning and had to make the high tide trek!  The trek into Bark Bay was another 11.5 km’s.  Whereas I came across a lot of people hiking from Marahau to Anchorage, there were very few people hiking into Bark Bay at the time I was coming along.

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Coming into Bark Bay there is a nice and scary high bridge you get to cross 🙂

Bark Bay campsite is effectively a sandy peninsula with campers packed all along it.  There are sheltered cooking facilities, toilets with toilet paper and a communal campfire pit.  It’s a beautiful spot to stop for the night.  After gobbling down a delicious? dehydrated meal that I picked up at Rollos I didn’t have much energy left for anything other than relaxing, reading, and enjoying the views 🙂

Here are some photos I took from around the Bark Bay campsite:

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A view of the Bark Bay campsite as I hiked away on the second morning of the trip.  You can see some of the tents, as well as some of the sail boats that had spent the night on shore (and are now stuck in the sand until the tide comes back in!).

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Day #2:  Bark Bay to Totoranui

Day 2 involved about 20 km’s of trekking, which took me 8.5 hours with a 1 hour break for lunch, and 2 longer snack/nap breaks due to some deadly blisters I ended up with, as well as the temperature was very hot this day!  This morning’s hike started with a pretty steady climb.  I actually ran into another young woman who was hiking alone who looked me dead in the eye and said “I thought this was going to be fun!”….haha so beware that 25 k’s the first day the legs were a little bit tired!  After a short while you get a glimpsse of Onetahuti Bay where 100’s of kayakers are setting out for some coastal kayaking.  It’s a beautiful sight.

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Me at Onetahuti Bay

From Onetahuti Bay you walk along the entire stretch of the beach before heading back into the forested area.

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This was my first encounter with a “Weka”.  I hadn’t seen one before and didn’t want to startle him so kept my distance.  Turns out they are very popular birds in the area, and obviously of no harm to humans!

At this point on the trip I unfortunately started to get a blister!  The pain was tremendous and huge blisters were growing around my pinky toe.  I had to do a few minor surgeries on the side of the trail at this point.  Let’s just say I was glad to have a well stocked first aid kit- and you should have one too!  After travelling through more of a forested area you started to get some beautiful glimpses of the Awaroa beach area below- which is where you will have to do the biggest tidal crossing of the trek, and it is imperative you time this one correctly because there is no alternative high tide cross track.

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I took off my shoes and enjoyed some fresh water on the crazy blisters on my feet!  This tide crossing was neat because there were tons of little crabs in the water around my feet.  Also, as I was crossing I suddenly ended up with cell reception and was able to make a phone call to my mom on her birthday!  From the middle of nowhere!

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After the tidal crossing was a great time to have some lunch, and dry off before the last portion of the trek which involved a steady beach walk, as well as what felt like a massive climb to the top of a mountain just to go right back down before reaching my campsite at Totoranui.  Totoranui is a huge campground where people come in to camp for a few nights out of their vehicles.  There must be a 1000 campsites in this one spot!  The Abel Tasman hikers have one reserved area right close to the beach and it’s a nice grassy area to pop up our tents.  This beach was beautiful and it was a perfect spot to lounge for the rest of the day.

Day #3:  Totoranui to Mutton Cove 

The next morning when I woke up I discovered that there was a little store open where the campground employees worked and they were selling snacks and drinks!  At this point after hiking 45 km’s in 2 days I was super excited to have a little extra treat.  I devoured a few cans of peaches and a chocolate bar, but even more exciting is I found a really awesome book to keep me company during my lounging beach morning.  This day was devoted to hanging out and enjoying the beach- as I knew I only had a bit of a trek to get to my final campsite that night. I would suggest budgeting some time at this beach for sure.  Once the afternoon rolled around and I had lazed on the beach and gone for a few swims it was time to start the 7 km trek to mutton cove.  It was a relatively simple hike, minus the landslide crossing!

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Mutton cove was definitely the most beautiful campsite I stayed at.

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Looking down at a few campers walking along the beach.  To the left of them is where all the tents are set up for the campsite.

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Day #3:  Mutton Cove circle back to Totoranui via the Gibbs Hill Track

This was a bit of an unusual trek, and is definitely not the most common ending for anyone finishing the Abel Tasman Trek.  It was about a 12 km trek, and I am not sure how long it took as I didn’t record it in my log!  Normally hikers would finish in Wanui car park, yet what I did was circle back through the Gibbs Hill track and finished back in Totoranui.  This was definitely the most strenuous part of the trek.  After wandering past Whariwarangi Bay hut there is a steady steep descent (about 400 m elevation gain) before heading back down.  I was the only person up high on the cliff edge wandering along this trail.  It was surreal, and a little bit freaky!  Also there were plenty of bugs and bees and overgrowth along this part of the trail, but it did make for some beautiful pictures.

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After descending the 400 m’s or so that I just climbed I ended up back in Torantui and waited along the beach for my Marahau Abel Tasman Water taxi.   It was a fun ride back to Marahau along the coastline reflecting on the hiking over the past 4 days.  Before retuning on the bus back to Nelson I made sure to stop in at a delicious cafe they have close to the track exit and chow down on a well deserved whole food meal!

In total I hiked about 65 km’s in 3.5 days.  It was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to travel back to New Zealand to try some of their other great walks- including the Milford Sound trek.

Some logistical notes

If you are reading this as someone interested in hiking the Abel Tasman, here are a few details about the logistics on getting set up on the track.

  1.  I started my trek by staying the night at a hostel in Nelson.  I stayed at the Paradiso backpackers, and they were able to store my luggage while I hiked the trail.  Just a note- the luggage storage was one small closet with suitcases crammed on top of each other almost right to the ceiling, so if you are high maintenance with your belongings this isn’t a good bet for you.
  2. To get to the trail I booked with the Abel Tasman Coachlines  who picked me up from the hostel and drove me to the Abel Tasman Marahau Aqua Taxi location.  I was booked to finish my trek by taking an Aqua taxi back down the coastline, and needed to stop in before I started my trek to pick up my ticket.  After getting my ticket I walked about a km down the road to start the hike.  I believe the coachline could also just drop you off at the start of the trek.  I started my hike in Marahau.
  3. Make sure you book all your campsites in advance (from the link I posted above).  In some cases the campsites were full and I was happy to have reservations.  At one of my campgrounds they even came around and checked to ensure I had my pass with me, also while hiking along the trail I was asked to show my camping permits.
  4. I rented all of my gear from a local shop in Nelson called Rollos Outdoor Centre.  I reserved the gear I needed in advance by contacting them via e-mail.  I showed up the day before my hike to pick it all up and purchase a few things I couldn’t rent (gas for the mini stove etc.).  The prices were reasonable, and it made sense just to rent the gear rather than lugging it around the whole country for 4 weeks!
  5.   I brought wilderness soap, plastic ziplog bags, and a clothesline and was very happy to be able to wash out my stinky hiking clothes each day!
  6.   Be prepared for blisters, bring some kind of antibiotic cream, lots of bandaids, and whatever other blister reminders you have that work for you!
  7. There are tons of people along the trail, you never really feel alone and there are plenty of chances for good conversation, and people willing to lend a hand if you need anything.

Most of all- Have fun 🙂

Some more photos for you:

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My pack for the trip!  So important to have a comfortable bag for you, as well as a pair of sandals for once you are finished hiking for the day.

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