The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 3 (July 1, 1933)
Girls on the Tramp — Charm of “The World's Wonder Walk.”
Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily hent the stile-a:
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a.
One of the finest cures for that bored, grumbly feeling we all have, I think, at some time or other, is a jolly good walk over the hills and far away, if only for one day, but better still for a week or more; for a tramping holiday is surely the best holiday of all to help us forget dull care and the worries of everyday life.
Our little country, New Zealand, offers some wonderful places for our selection, but perhaps the best of them all is Milford Track (rightly known as “The World's Wonder Walk”), tucked away in Southland, miles and miles from all the noise and bustle of the towns, a pathway which will lead us through a fairyland of forest and fern, great snowfed rivers, mirrored lakes and lofty mountain peaks, until at last, after a glorious trek, Milford Sound lies before us in all its beauty.
“Strides,” Of Course.
And now, girls, you will be delighted to hear, I'm sure, how really inexpensive your outfit will be for that pilgrimage through fairyland. Be well advised, girls! Wear “strides!” If you have not already a pair, beg, borrow or steal some, as they are by far the best kit for hiking. Also, get a couple of pair of someone's golf stockings, wear a comfortable, strong pair of shoes, and you are practically set.
Perhaps you have not worn “strides” before. If not, you will feel as we did when we had to make our first appearance at breakfast one morning—just a trifle shy—but hearty appetites and the need of satisfying them, soon settled our qualms, and from then on for the rest of the trip, we wore them as to the manner born, feeling quite sorry when our return to conventional civilisation demanded the wearing of skirts again.
The ruc-sac, which should fit snugly to your shoulders, is a most important factor, for in it you must carry enough clothes to last you for the whole trip. You have to think shrewdly about what to take and what not to take; especially the latter, if you are new chums, as we were when we walked the Track. A change of underclothing, night attire, a few toilet necessaries, and a pair of soft slippers for the evenings are all you will need, as your shoulders will probably not stand up to the strain of a much greater load.
While on the subject of ruc-sacs, we pass on to you a golden rule we made on our trip, and that was “Always pack your own swag.” We found 'twas better so—for having a nice Christian glow over me one morning, I offered, and was allowed, to pack my chum's ruc-sac for her. You can imagine her predicament, and also my chagrin, when after a wonderful but tiring day, we prepared for our bunks, only to find that I had omitted to pack her pyjamas, and so that night and the following six nights she had to go without; but she managed all right, for woman finds a way.
Three Days of Enchantment.
It takes three days to reach the coast, but what great days they are, a happy, jolly crowd tramping along in God's good sunshine—sometimes through groves of lovely beech trees by the side of a river, scarce able to hear our own footsteps, so soft the carpet of fallen leaves on which we walk—sometimes scaling a rocky mountain pass, higher and higher until we reach the top of the world, it seems, so splendid is the panorama spread before us. And then again sometimes just sitting idly in a little boat which takes us across a lake, so still, so beautiful, and reflecting the colour, and even the tiniest detail of all its flanking charm so perfectly that we feel content indeed, and at peace with the universe.
Cosiness of the Huts.
At the end of a long day in the good old out-of-doors what a welcome sight the hut can be when it first comes into view, for here, besides a much needed rest, we will have a wonderful meal, made—to your pleasant surprise—mostly from tinned foods. And a right royal meal it is, too.
Afterwards chairs are pulled round a cheerful blaze—a fire built of huge logs from the forest just outside—and then it's a case of “Have you heard this one?” or, better still, a jolly sing-song. However, before very long, smothered yawns here and there indicate bed, and we don't take over long tumbling into our bunks, which are mighty snug and cosy. A great silence closes in on us now, broken only by the strange call of a more-pork, or a weka, and sometimes, too, the thunder of an avalanche crashing down far away on the mountain side; but we are very tired, and sleep comes to us easily—sleep fortified by a generous supply of blankets.
A Win for the Sun.
It was the next morning, I think, and a very frosty one, too, that a member of our party who hailed from much warmer climes, was rather pleased with himself as he had practically an empty pack, because he had put on his change of underclothing as well as what he already was wearing. However, we couldn't help laughing at him when, after an hour's walk, he disappeared behind some big boulders in order to discard his extra clothes. The sun had chased away the morning mists and was shining brilliantly and strongly on that doubly-clad man on an uphill path.
Many are the laughs and funny experiences we had on that great trip. However, it came to an end—as all good things do. Now it is your turn. All you who love a good tramp—you to whom the Track is as yet but a name—should promise yourself that one day, before so very long, you will pack your swag and away to enjoy the thrill of “The World's Wonder Walk.”
At A Railway Inquiry Office.
“Yes, my boy, this is the inquiry office.”
“Well, if two trains left Birmingham and London simultaneously, one travelling at 60.5 m.p.h. and the other at 44.5 m.p.h., how far would each have travelled when they pass each other, the distance from London to Birmingham being two hundred miles?”—From “Punch.”page 42