Pack light, we’re off!

Trip to Bali is off. Glad I went to Europe last year. Shopping in Sydney’s been pushed to 2022. Christmas will be quiet with the rellies locked out of NZ. The tight fiscal pinch means a roadtrip south is off the table til next year. 

Home’s dull: Lockdown used up all interest in Staycations. Fun is cancelled, excitement’s on hold. Passports are wrapped in archival tissue and stored in an heirloom tomb, a relic from the days when we had adventures overseas. 

And on top of that this po-co-Lo* flab is hanging about, my inner couch potato having binged Killing Eve, every dish on Master Chef, Upright while horizontal.

The wild’s calling. I’m pulling my OE macpac from beneath the bed, dusting off my big girl boots and heading for the Great Outdoors. I’m driving til the tank’s at halfway then walking into the hills. 

I’m no Action Fan. I prefer bookshops to bootstraps. I like coffee in a cafe cup, not a thermos flask. There’s nothing wrong with scroggin but there’s also a lot right with a pain au chocolat and I’m not shoving one of those in my pocket for the rest-stop at the lookout point.

The thing I like is doing nothing while doing something. I love the feeling of being physically exhausted but mentally awake. There’s no thinking about doing it, there’s just getting it done. Then there’s no debrief, no summary report, no unpacking of strategic misalignments. There’s just that deeply satisfying ache of accomplishment. 

Getting out into the elements is catching on as a panacea to stay-at-home orders. 

My gung-ho friend in the UK is a new mum and she’s smitten with her kitten, but she’s also smitten with getting her kit off and swimming in sub-zero temperatures. It’s called wild swimming. In open water all-year-round swimmers traverse lakes and rivers, even the sea. It’s not a sport, it’s a life-style, with most diving in every day, wearing nothing but a bathing suit and occasionally booties and gloves. Neoprene is a no-no. A succor for sanity, wild-swimmers discover the serenity of isolated idylls while freezing their proverbials off. 

And with wild-swimming researchers finding a 40% decrease in incidence of infectious diseases affecting the upper respiratory tract, this could be the Covid cure we’ve been looking for.

There’s another group of adventurers who are taking their dogs with them. Canicross is cross-country with a mutt attached to your midriff. Depending on where you’re at in the pro-am scale, either you and the dog run side-by-side or the dog drags you up hill and down dale, while attached to an umbilical cord/1950s vibrating belt contraption. Sometimes you ride on a scooter, which seems a little more sensible, making you into a one-dog-mushing team. 

Wandering about aimlessly was always part of the point of overseas travel, but doing it with clues (once upon a time provided by the Lonely Planet) made it more fun. Same goes for audacious adventuring at home. Rogain is orienteering on speed; metrogaine, its urban equivalent. 

A team sport, the aim is to find markers, plot courses and move quickly. Which reminds me of the time I went to Marrakesh with two girlfriends and just had to buy a pair of maroon babouche so got dragged, at pace, through souks and squares fuelled by khoudenjal and orange juice while avoiding snake charmers, Barbary apes and pick-pockets. 

Metrogaining in Taihape doesn’t seem quite so intrepid but it’s all we have so we’ll make do ‘til the borders re-open.

Bounding through Jemaa el-Fnaa lends itself well to parkour, that city-running craziness that turns urban streetscapes into obstacle courses. To blend that with tramping is a natural next leap. Anyone keen should take up coasteering. This entails a trek along the intertidal zone of any coast. Participants climb, jump, dive, swim, scramble … really anything to get them from where they are to where they want to go. It’s what we used to do when we couldn’t afford the entrance fee to a UNESCO Heritage Site, so climbed in the way the locals did. Perhaps coasteering would be even more fun if there were armed guards positioned above the rocks at Cape Kidnappers.

Whether you swim it, jump it, walk it, climb it or tramp it, get out of the house and do it. Rediscover what you loved about exploring new environs – that wonderful wanderlust – and do that here. Let your body move and your mind go along for the ride. 

We’ve had our winter of discontent. Now it’s time to pull our (tramping) socks up and get back into it. The world might not be open to us but this country is. And for all the millions of people still under house arrest, New Zealand looks like paradise, so we must make the most of it, for their sake, and for ours. 


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