Life in the New Zealand Backcountry: Rain

Trip Start Nov 10, 2013
Trip End Apr 02, 2014

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Flag of New Zealand  , Westland,
Saturday, December 7, 2013

During our 5-day backcountry adventure on the Heaphy Track, I took some time to simply write down a few thoughts about various aspects of life in the backcountry.


It seems that here in New Zealand, it's not a matter of if it is going to rain, but rather, when; and for how long.  As such, there is no point in worrying about whether or not to go outside or do some particular activity.  It is best to just go and do whatever you were planning without hesitation, because the weather forecast here carries eve less credibility than back home in Waterton Park, AB, Canada.  This is especially true considering local weather forecasts sound like this: "fine," or "mostly fine, with a chance of less-than-fine," or "fine with periods of showers," or "showers with heavy rains," and sometimes "heavy rains with thundery spells."  Honest, word for word quoted descriptions of local daily forecasts...

Okay, so you've disregarded the forecast and have gone for it.  Now you're out there, getting sprinkled on, which isn't a bad thing, because the breeze and powerful sun will dry you out rather quickly.  Sometimes though, that sprinkle turns to a steady rain - this seems to happen more often than not - which usually, in my limited experience here in in New Zealand, will last for 30-60 minutes.  At that point, the wind will blow the clouds away and it will clear long enough for your rain gear and pack cover to dry out before the next squall passes through.

Every now and then, however, the rain doesn't let up.  In fact, it starts to rain even harder and faster.  Think: torrential downpour, without let up.  Now, how dry you remain depends on the quality of your rain gear... 2 hours... 3 hours?  Maybe 4, if you made a big investment in your gear.  Eventually though, things start to get wet.  Like I said, forget about if you will get wet.  

Instead, you should have been spending all this time considering your options for how you will dry out later today.  Can you get back to the car - and eventually a motel to dry out?  Or is it on to the next hut along the track?  At that point you can get a fire going, prop your boots up and hang out your clothes to dry over the fire.  Or... do you have to try and hope to coincide your arrival at the next campground with a break in the weather, so you can set up your tent without it getting too soaked.  Then you try to hang what clothes you can in the tent, and the things you can't, try to hang outside under shelter and hope the wind dries it out.

Every day you don't bother thinking about staying dry, but rather, where, and at what time you will arrive that evening to begin drying out your things for the following day.
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