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Autumn At Pack Horse Hut

Here’s a little trip report of one of the recent trips of the Christchurch branch of the Trailbabies – we had an awesome little outing to our beloved Pack Horse Hut again!





Pretty early on right as we started climbing the trail, we walked right into a low cloud that was covering most of the ridge that the hut is on. There was no wind at all and it was quite warm; walking in the mist like that was a very atmospheric experience.



When we came to the first little creek crossing, Loki stopped the whole group and gave us a little safety speech, explaining that it is better to walk straight through the water instead of trying to balance over rocks, because you can slip or trip when trying to do the latter, and that can lead to serious accidents. About two minutes later, Sarah did a demonstration for us of how true that is, resulting in a half tennis ball sized bruise on her forehead and clothes that were considerably wetter than they would have got from just walking through the stream. Luckily her head seems to be as robust as her sense of humour, and we were able to continue with our hike, although we kept a careful eye on her for the rest of the day in case of any signs of concussion. No rocks were harmed during this exercise.



After around three and a half hours we all reached the hut, made ourselves comfortable, chopped some firewood and started the log burner. With thirteen people we pretty much maxed out the capacity of the hut this time. We all found a bunk to sleep, but another dad with his two ten and twelve year old sons who also happened to be at the hut the same night ended up sleeping in the common room – it was no problem though, and everyone enjoyed each other’s company.







When the sun came out in the late afternoon, a few of us decided to go on a little stroll to check on our recently placed geocache up there, and we enjoyed a nice sunny evening for an hour or so before getting back to the hut to start cooking our dinner.






I was too lazy to light the alcohol stove and decided to cook on the log burner instead. That is good for simmering, but not fast enough to boil water to cook with. Since I have a stainless steel pot, I decided to put it right into the embers of the log burner fire, which brought the water to a boil in a crazy short time. Later on I found out that if I actually close the log burner door with the pot in the fire, that gets even faster, and boiled a litre of water from the cistern outside in under two minutes! I was blown away and will cook like that every time we have a fire from now on, in a log burner or otherwise. There’s just no reason to start a cooker when you have a 8 kilowatt (or so) fire going! Just don’t try that with an aluminium pot, you’ll melt it into a clump in moments.


Despite outside temperatures near zero we had a very cosy night in the hut, thanks to a few good people who kept the fire going through the night.

The next morning was sunny and the wind had changed to a northerly, which meant that after a good breakfast, we walked down the Kaituna Valley with a nice little tail wind. After a little mistunderstanding with a bull that was standing on the trail as we walked around a corner, we came to the first creek again. I saw Loki glance back to check on Sarah, and then nod with satisfaction when he saw that she had obviously learned something the previous day, and was plodding right through the water this time. Although I really don’t mean to pick on Sarah, as there were a few other people as well who took the more risky dry route across the rocks, although without falling. Be careful, people, Sarah can tell you why keeping your shoes dry is not really that important…

We reached the cars without any further incidents and played ball for a while before heading home. We have seen some amazing walking again this weekend especially from our little ones – notably, Alice did some great walking as usual, Connor did really well as well, and Abby walked the entire way back down on her own feet on day two! That’s some pretty amazing work for someone who is significantly less than half as tall as me. The older children did a great job again to keep an eye on the little ones and to make up lots of games along the way and around the hut. Also, of course, great work of all the adults with creating a relaxed no pressure atmosphere and allowing the kids to set their own pace. That’s how you grow strong tramping children – every step they take today out of their own motivation means three more steps they take tomorrow.

This was a great trip again, already looking forward to the next one!

If you are a member of the Christchurch branch of the Trailbabies, click here to see all pictures of this trip!

How To Choose A Child Carrier

This article contains everything you need to know to choose the best child carrier for outdoor activities, especially for hiking trips; both for front or back carrying, and for children of any age.

Things are different outdoors than they are at home. If you want to learn how to use your child carrier in the outdoors in smart and trail tested ways that are safe for your child and energy saving for you, you should definitely download your free copy of my comprehensive e-book The Ultimate Outdoor Child Carrier Manual.

If you are planning to buy a carrier to take your child on hiking trips with you, you might have noticed already that there is a mind boggling amount of different child carriers available today. Looking at the many options, you may feel like you just got parachuted into the middle of an unknown jungle, and now need to find your way out on your own.



It can be tempting to just buy the next best carrier that looks nice and shiny, to pick the model that a friend of yours also uses, or to default to one that’s made by your favourite backpack manufacturer, only to get this decision over and done with. My advice is: Don’t. Instead of overactively storming off into some random direction Read the rest of this entry →

The Inner Wild Frontier

“There is no before or after. The intellect doesn’t drive you anymore. It doesn’t exist anymore. You become what nature needs you to be: this wild thing.

Sarah Marquis

A quote from Sarah Marquis, an incredible woman doing incredible things with her life. Humbling, inspiring, wow. Thanks Sarah for exploring the inner wild side, and for sharing.

You can read more about Sarah’s very unusual hiking life here.

A Babywearing Outdoor Adventure

Join us on this walk for an introduction to the magic of babywearing and the fine art of hiking with babies and children of all ages!



As a mum or dad, have you ever wondered…

…if there is a way that allows you to free your arms from constantly holding your child, so you are able to do the many things that you need to do every day?

…how you can do all those things at home or out and about while still keeping the close connection with your baby that is so vital for so many reasons?

…how you can save your passion for the outdoors from a personal twenty year long ice age without being limited to just doing little walks in Christchurch’s city parks?

…how to do real tramping trips with your children safely and enjoyably, so you can have amazing adventures together for many years to come?

If you said “yes” to any of the above, and especially if you live in Christchurch, make sure to read the whole story about this event!

Buy Extra Muscles To Carry Your Child

There are heaps of articles and forum discussions all over the outdoorsy part of the internet that revolve around the question of what the “best” piece of equipment is. Of course, the only true answer to that question is usually that it depends on what exactly you want the particular gear to do for you, and many other factors. There is no such thing as the “best” tent, camp mat, stove, and even child carrier – although there are some that are just better than others, no doubt.

Every now and again however, a product comes along that completely transforms a category of equipment into something that is so different from what everyone knew until then that the product in question plays in its own league without any competition.

Exactly that is about to happen in the world of child carriers Read the rest of this entry →

Toddler Adventures

Just found the time to pull out another short video clip from my archives for you – of Loki keeping busy with a few rocks during a rainy morning in the higher parts of the Routeburn area, while the so-called grownups are packing up camp in the background.



The Jet Pack Child Carrier

All right, the headline of this post may be a teeny tiny bit exaggerated, but if you try this yourself, you will understand why I call this little do-it-yourself modification the jet pack child carrier!

There are many child carriers on the market, and after five years of serious hiking with babies and children and testing quite a few of them, I can honestly say that way too many are actually useless for real outdoor trips – some are even outright dangerous – and even the best Read the rest of this entry →

Five Years, Sixteen Miles: An Epic Three Day Trip

Today I have decided to finally take the time and do a write-up of our epic three day trip that, interestingly, resulted from Loki telling me that he doesn’t like our hiking trips anymore. Sometimes, more is better!

So here is how it went:

Together with a few other families, we had planned a day walk for the Saturday from the Kaituna Valley side to Pack Horse Hut. After Loki and I had decided that we were going to do a three day trip that same weekend, we had a good look at the map and did our best to find a way to combine those two walks, so we would still be able to walk with our friends on the middle day as part of our larger trip.

We came up with a pretty interesting route that, on Friday, would lead us to a nice and sheltered camp spot near the car park where we were going to meet the others on Saturday morning. Then we would walk up to Pack Horse Hut together with them on Saturday, spend a few hours hanging out around the hut, and later in the afternoon part ways with the group and continue along our way towards Mt Bradley and Mt Herbert. We would spend the second night camping in one of several suitable camp spots in that area, and on the third day, walk down to Diamond Harbour and take the ferry to Lyttelton, and from there drive back home to Christchurch.

Both the first and especially the third day were definitely going to be some of the biggest walking that Loki had ever done, and I pointed that out to Loki many times. He had explicitly requested this big trip, but I wanted to make sure he really knew what he was getting himself into. He made it clear that he knew it was going to be a challenge, but was keen to do it anyway, and on top of that decided tha
t he wanted to walk across both Mt Bradley and Mt Herbert on the third day, as well as put in a stint of real bush bashing on the first day. Finally, he was really looking forward to spending some time at the beloved Pack Horse Hut again, as well as Read the rest of this entry →

Keas love adrenaline too!

During a trip to the West Coast, we came across this friendly kea who once again proves how popular adrenaline sports are in this country of ours – even the birds are hooked on the stuff!