Back in our backyard, by Lisa Parata.

For me, and many of my friends and clients, 2020 was going to be a year for overseas travel.

Today is the second week of September 2020 and my partner Tom, and I, are meant to be travelling around Tuscany on our bikes. Hiking in the sun, eating pizza and pasta, and drinking way too much Chianti.

In a few weeks’ time we would be catching the train up through Austria and arriving in Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest, and then flying into Brabant region in Holland to meet Tom’s family and celebrate his Oma’s 90th birthday. This trip was going to be about 6 weeks long.

It might be a few more years before I get to meet Tom’s family. Economists are predicting that in the best case, borders will be closed until sometime in 2022. Frustrating, but what can we do? In the meantime, we will use the technology available to keep connected with our family and friends abroad and focus this time to explore what our local regions have to offer.

The biggest lesson I have learnt from travelling overseas, is a deep appreciation for the country that we live in and I cannot think of a better place to be during this lock-down than right here in Dunedin, New Zealand.

I love getting out and about in the great outdoors and challenging myself mentally and physically. It is an instant mood booster and can be a cheap way to socialise. No matter what is happening at work or what assignments I have coming up, a bit of sun on my skin and fresh air is the most effective way for me to de-stress. It even allows me to practise my photography skills.

Here is a list of my favourite outdoor activities. Have you done any of them?

Karetai Track, Otago Peninsula

I am a bit embarrassed by this, but I have been living in Andersons Bay for a good chunk of my life, and the beginning of this walk is less than 5km away from my doorstep. Get there via Southdale road next to the Tautuku Fishing Club. Once you are part way up the hill, look for a track that veers right to explore a track that hugs the cliff.

Silver Peaks Track to Jubilee Hut

This can be accessed off Mountain Road near Waitati. It's about 9km to the hut and the walk back is quite tough. Once you are past devils’ staircase its smooth sailing. DOC say to allow 8 hours of walking. We did it in about 6 hours. Pack for every type of weather.

South of Dunedin
Humpridge Track – Tuatapere

This is about to become a great walk so get in before everyone hears about it. This walk takes three days and covers just over 60km. Okaka Lodge is right at the top of the ridge after about a 20km climb. At Port Craig a highlight was staying at the DOC School hut, once you get there make your way down to the beach and have a swim with the dolphins. Pack mossie spray.

Camping in Purakanui Bay, the Catlins

It is home to one of the most picturesque sunrises and I love a good sunrise. Many walks in the area including tracks to the McLean Falls, Purakanui Falls and Nugget Point.

Other favourites
  • Gertrude Saddle Hike, Milford Sound
  • Rafting the Grade 5 rapids on Rangitata River, Geraldine
  • Cycling the Central Otago Rail Trail
  • Hiking up the Maungatuas, Taieri
  • All parts of Central Otago
What next?
  • Rock and Pillar Conservation area – hiking and mountain biking, a night in ‘Big Hut’
  • Everything Aoraki/Mt Cook
  • Mt Somers area, Canterbury (including Peel Forest)
  • The Alps to Ocean Cycle
  • Send me your tips please!