By Brianna Loan (July 2021)

For my adventure, I hiked part of the Southern Circuit Track on Stewart Island. The route we took included flying into Mason’s Bay and staying the night at Kilbride, then walking to Doughboy Bay and staying at the hut. Afterwards we walked to Rakeahua Hut and then on the final day, climbed up and down Mount Rakeahua. This was an amazing track, as we got to see some incredible areas of the island. And whilst the mud was at times overwhelming, it was something new and interesting that I will never forget. 

During the journey, we reached many points on our climbs that greeted us with the most breathtaking views. This was a big highlight and definitely made the climbs worth it. Other significant highlights were hearing kiwi calls from our tents and huts at night, flying into Mason’s Bay and landing on the beach, travelling out on the water taxi surrounded by some stunning scenery, standing on top of Adam’s Hill and Doughboy Hill, and bonding with the rest of my group members. The track itself brought many surprises and certainly kept things interesting, as it involved climbing up rivers and wading through swamps. However, this feature of the journey appealed to me as it made it seem more like an adventure than a tramp. 

I was very fortunate to be working with such an amazing group. We worked extremely well together. We all really enjoyed each other’s company and had a lot of fun getting to know one another better. Many inside jokes and funny stories were created to share wherever our paths cross again. It was a really nice mix being around people with whom I was comfortable, as well as having the freshness of being with people I’d never been around much previously. When times were tougher, especially towards the end of a long day, I felt lucky to be surrounded by people who were so encouraging. I would love to be able to go on more journeys with this group in the future. 

Day three was the hardest day, but the day I enjoyed the most. When we started out we were immediately greeted by a steep climb up Doughboy Hill that challenged us physically but gave us some breath-taking views. The rest of the day was tough because of the bogginess of the track, which meant we were constantly trying not to fall into and get stuck in deep patches of mud. Unfortunately, we were not always successful and relied on other members of the group to help us back out after they had a few laughs. The time pressure also made things difficult as we wanted to get to the hut before nightfall when everything would become slightly harder and more dangerous. We reached the hut with 10 minutes to spare until the sun had set.

When we hiked up and down Mount Rakeahua we faced a challenge that we needed to overcome. After an hour and a half of climbing, we reached a tarn. It was really pretty with a nice view below us. Unfortunately when turning to face where we were going, we couldn’t see anything due to cloud cover. We could tell it would be windy, rainy and cold if we continued and there would be no view due to the fog. The weather was only getting worse and we could see it was coming down the mountain which meant our walk down would be a lot worse if we tried to proceed. We had a long discussion on whether or not to continue. We were all very keen to get to the top but knew that we quite likely would regret moving forwards and not enjoy it due to the harsh weather. It would be a miserable journey and possibly dangerous as we couldn’t see where we were going. In the end, due to all of these factors, we made the decision not to continue and turn around there. 

Personally, this experience was incredible for me and helped me to realise that I have a genuine love for tramping. I’m already trying to organise another one. The views were breathtaking and the scenery was beautiful. I was definitely pushed in the tramp but even when I was finding it the most difficult, my answer to the question ‘Am I enjoying this?’ was always a yes. The satisfaction of getting to the top of a hill after a tough climb was rewarding in itself but then you get to experience some magnificent views and there’s really nothing like it. I am filled with happiness and pride in the beauty of my country. We are so lucky to have so many incredible hidden gems in New Zealand. I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next. 

I want to thank the FMC for the generous donation that was given to me to help fund this incredible adventure. It allowed us to turn it into a once in a lifetime experience. 

We’re delighted to share another trip report from recent recipients of FMC’s Youth Award Grant. These grants are awarded four times a year, so if you’re inspired to get some financial support, head over to FMC’s website to apply.