Be Aware of Weather
New Zealand’s rugged landscape and changeable weather mean you can get into trouble very quickly. If you were forced into a wilderness survival situation with limited to no equipment available could you survive?
It’s very difficult to know how you would cope in an actual survival situation unless you have experienced one or have received extremely realistic training. The priorities of survival guide coupled with an absolute determination to keep living will put you in a strong position to achieve a successful survival outcome.
What to do?
Stop, stay calm, control your fears, and start addressing the principles of survival. Don’t make hasty decisions, as poor decision will lead to negative outcomes.
The four step priorities of SURVIVAL GUIDE are listed below are in order of importance and are designed to increase the chance of not only staying alive, but also being rescued.
Protection - First Aid, Clothing, Shelter, Fire
This structure must be followed in order. You can address two or more priorities simultaneously but only if the group size allows.
Here is an overview of each priority of survival.
First Aid - Focusing on your ability to prevent further injury. It is imperative that this is addressed before moving on, or you may be unable to function well enough to carry out the following priorities.
Clothing - This is your first line of defence against the elements. Dress for the environmental conditions, keep fully covered at all times to reduce effects of exposure. Use the layering system; base layer (wicks moisture away), mid-layer (provides warmth) and outer layer (prevents moisture from entering while allowing sweat to escape).
Shelter - No tent? Then you’ll have to build a natural shelter to provide additional protection of the body from the environment. The type of shelter chosen will be depend upon local conditions and material available but should be accomplished quickly in order to provide protection from the elements.
Fire - The importance of a fire in a survival situation cannot be over emphasised as a fire provides us with a way of keeping warm, repelling insects, moral and a means of cooking food & boiling water making it safe to drink. Also as a signal, smoke/light for rescue.
Location - It is wise to place immediate location aids out upon entering a survival situation. Eg Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), make sure it is registered. A distress beacon is one of the most reliable ways of signalling that you need help in an emergency. These can be hired if you don’t own one.
You must have a well thought out plan, think about why things are seen and try to provide a large visual footprint of your location to increase the chances of being found.
What location aids would you normally have? What does the environment offer?
Water - Being dehydarated affects us not only physically but mentally so we need to maintain hydration level by replacing body fluid loss. Remember thirst is a poor indicator of degree of hydration. If you are thirsty you will already be dehydrated. An easier way to know if you are getting enough water is to simply monitor your urine.
Food - Is given the lowest priority in survival, provided there is enough water - a fit person can survive for around 25-35 days without food.
It is HIGHLY recommended you check the weather forecast before you commence your walk/hike as the weather patterns in New Zealand are extremely changeable and you could get into trouble very quickly.
For all the latest Weather Forecast log onto
We also recommend that you check the tides before you set off if you are doing any coastal routes or river tracks.
For information on Tide times log onto: NIWA
Essential Winter Tips:
For some, winter marks a time to pack away the tramping gear and replace our interest and spare time with something else until summer arrives again. While others are relishing the opportunity to get out into the cold of winter and discover its natural beauty. Winter does however present unique challenges for those who want to get outside and explore the backcountry. The on going battle to stay warm and prevent cold weather injuries occurring, the ability make natural shelters or pitch a tent in snow to protect against the wind, finding or melting snow for water and the effort it takes to walk through deep snow.
Ten Tips to help see you through:
Plan your trip - Whether it involves a day out with your backpack or full on adventures over weeks, you need to plan it very carefully. Minimise the “If Only”.
Check Weather - Before setting off check the weather forecast. New Zealand’s weather is very changeable and a sunny day can quickly turn wet, windy and cold. Don’t get caught out!
Training - Elementary cold weather techniques, skills and methods should be practiced and maintained before you need them. Attend a cold weather training course.
Environmental Conditions - The wind and temperature have the greatest effect on living conditions. Prevent against cold weather injuries, frost nip, snow blindness, and hypothermia. Snow can hide many hidden dangers, avalanches, and crevasses. Learn to recognise avalanche terrain and how to recognise snowpack stability.
Equipment - An individual needs to have a good knowledge of and be able to use equipment that is suitable for cold environments. Carry avalanche transceivers, probes and metal-blade shovels and know how to use them.
Clothing - physical exertion to avoid sweating and putting on layers during rest periods to prevent chilling.
Go to Bed Warm - Carry out light exercise, drink and eat something hot prior to jumping into your sleeping bag, this will make for a better sleep.
Stick to Marked Tracks - Don't rely on following your footprints back out from wherever you have traveled. They can get snowed over or blown in.
Drink enough water - We tend to ignore this in cold weather, as we associate drinking water with hot climates.
Person Survival Kit - One should always carry a small compact container which will contain specific items to assist you in a survival situation. Matches, hand and feet warmers, light stick, survival blanket etc.