Spring is coming! If you live for the warmer months, you'll be excited and relieved as winter starts to release its icy grip on the country.
But the chilly New Zealand weather isn't necessarily over. Spring can also bring unsettled weather. Just as we think we can pull togs on and dive into the summer season, Mother Nature surprises us (and those early lambs) with late snowstorms and other inclement weather. A Kiwi spring can be frosty and crisp, hot, or very wet. Think 'four seasons in one day' - a good reminder to be well-prepared at any time of the year when you head into the outdoors!
Whatever your outdoor adventure, always:
- Check the weather report a few days in advance, then again on the day of your trip. West Coast weather systems (forecasts) can change dramatically! Be prepared to cancel or change your plans if necessary.
- Leave your intentions with a trusted contact (you can use the handy form through the link here to the AdventureSmart website).
- Pack carefully - when the weather warms up, it's tempting to leave bulkier winter gear at home. But you may be surprised by a late storm and find yourself under-dressed, under-prepared, and at the mercy of the elements. Include extra warm layers (wool, polypropylene, polar fleece), effective wet weather gear, appropriate footwear and consider taking a lightweight emergency shelter such as a bivvy or bothy bag.
- Ensure you have the right outdoor equipment, in good condition, and know how to use it!
- Get some outdoor training - courses on offer include: bushcraft, snowcraft, navigation, mountaineering, outdoor risk management, of course, outdoor first aid. Check the Mountain Safety Council website for a list of training providers.
- Don't forget Topo Map (also, the Topo50 app is helpful for trip planning and it has a GPS function so you know your location).
- Carry a Personal Locator Beacon and know how to operate it.
- Replenish your first aid kit and take extra food and matches in your emergency kit. Learn what natural materials burn well, know how to make a fire, just in case...
If you do get caught out by the weather:
- Find a safe area and build a shelter. Perhaps you get stranded by rising rivers, injured or lost - building a shelter from what you find will protect you from cold, windy, snowy and wet weather. Use branches, leaves, and natural features such as caves and hollows. Snow caves can be surprisingly warm!
- Add or remove clothing layers as needed. As well as cold, avoid getting hot and sweaty. Once you stop moving and cool down, you'll be wet and cold.
- Find a source of water and keep hydrated. Filter or treat if water quality is questionable.
- Make a fire to keep you warm. Smoke and flames can also make you more visible to rescuers. Stay put and conserve your energy. Share body heat with companions by getting cuddly!
- Use meditation and mindfulness to keep yourself calm.
Follow these tips and you'll have a better chance of survival, and enjoy many more adventures, whatever the weather!
If you love being in the outdoors and want to turn your passion into a career, TPP's outdoor education programmes will help get you started.
Photo credit: Zak Shaw
Author: Andrew Riley - Certificate in Outdoor Education - Programme Coordinator