Tramping Glossary

Tramping in New Zealand has its own peculiar language. Here is a list of common tramping terms 
I often use and their meaning:

Aotearoa: (a-o-tea-a-ro-ah) The indigenous name for the islands which make up New Zealand. It is a Maori word meaning 'Land of the Long White Cloud'. The clouds were the first thing Maori saw as they migrated here in the 7th Century.

A.S.L/asl: above sea level, a measure of altitude above the mean coastline
backcountry: either private or public land removed from roads, centres of population (boonies/wop wops/ back of beyond)

bach: (bat-ch) a small (or not so small) holiday home, usually in some Mecca of tourism (holiday home, crib)

basic/standard/serviced: These are DOC hut ratings- basic: no charge, very few amenities, standard: $5 per night, will have mattresses, toilet, water source but that may be all, serviced: $15 per night, will have  mattresses, heating, toilets, water source, firewood  and some have a hut warden

BCC: Back Country Cuisine, one of the freeze dried meal ranges available in New Zealand

benched: A track that is benched has a discernible shape as they were usually cut for pack horses and wagons. There will be a bank on the up hill side of a benched track

Classic benched track, Quail Island 2018
billy: a pot, traditionally aluminium, for boiling water/tea in

biv, bivvy, bivouac: a small rough shelter or a sheltered camp-site

bluff: a cliff, or steep hill: to be bluffed: finding oneself at a point where there are bluffs above, below and on both sides of you. Not recommended!

brew: a hot drink, traditionally tea made in a billy, but... (a brew, a cuppa, coffee (it doesn't actually have to be coffee, it could be tea or hot chocolate)

brew kit: your equipment for making a hot drink, it is an old military term

bush: New Zealand word for a native forest or wooded area. The bush in New Zealand can be dense and impenetrable

bushline: line above which native forest stops growing, usually between 1000-1500 metres asl

cairn: a man made pile or mound of stones which signal the course of a track/route/river crossing

camp site: a location either formal or informal for pitching a tent

clag/clagged in: fog or foggy/cloudy conditions

cooker: New Zealand name for a tramping stove (stove)

A cooker in action at Anchorage Hut

CTC: Canterbury Tramping Club

DOC: Department of Conservation, government department in charge of the outdoors in New Zealand

dunny: slang for toilet (see also long drop) 

fire box: a metal enclosed fireplace in many back country huts (wood burner, log burner, pot belly)

fly: A tarp or other single sheet overhead cover. Much favoured by older trampers for their usefulness in the New Zealand bush. Usually waterproof nylon/plastic with tie ropes around the edge (tarp/basha/hootch/tent fly)

FMC: Federated Mountain Clubs, an umbrella organisation consisting of various tramping/climbing/MTB/skiing clubs which advocates for outdoor users and the environment

gaiter: (gay-tor) nylon, Gore Tex or canvas covering that stretches from the bottom of the boots to just below the knee, designed to prevent debris from entering the boot

Classic high gaiters on track
giardia: a protozoa that infects the intestines of mammals causing sickness 

GPS: Global Positioning System. Usually a hand held device which will provide navigation information such as latitude, longitude and elevation

Great Walk: A special designation of track, with a superior track/hut quality. All need to be pre booked and all have track/hut wardens from October-April. There are 10 Great Walks in New Zealand

Huey: Huey is the legendary God of tramping weather. He/she alone decides your fate...wet or dry lunches. Common phrase is/was "...Huey chucked her down..." or 'Huey made it rain'. Appease Huey at all cost with offerings of your own flesh and blood...

hut pass/ticket: there is a small nominal charge for using DOC huts, these are paid for using pre purchased tickets or 6-12 month passes

Department of Conservation hut pass

kai: Maori word for food or sustenance especially wild foods gathered from the forest and sea (feed/eats/grub)

kiwi: iconic flightless native bird endemic to New Zealand. Our national bird. New Zealanders also refer to themselves as kiwis!

long drop: a back country toilet, consists of a basic shelter with a toilet seat and hopefully an empty hole underneath

Maori: The Maori (Te Maori) are the indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand. They have their own language, culture and customs. The Maori are very important to New Zealand identity and are often the guardians of outdoors places. The word Maori denotes both the people and the language, most New Zealanders will be able to speak at least some Maori. Ask them....

MSC: Mountain Safety Council, an independent body which co ordinates safety messages and outdoor training in New Zealand

North Island: The European name for the northern of the two main islands of New Zealand. You would have thought they could think of something a little more interesting than 'North Island'. The Maori name is Te Ika a Maui, or 'the fish of Maui'...long story!

NZDA: New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, a local hunting focus group

NZFS: New Zealand Forestry Service, a precursor to the Department of Conservation

Permolat: a disused form of track marking consisting of small reflective metal strips, a volunteer organisation that maintains huts and tracks in New Zealand

pit: a trampers sleeping bag or sleeping position in a hut or tent

My pit laid out in Nina Hut

pit day: a day spent in your sleeping bag or 'pit', either a rest day or bad weather day. Normally involves copious cups of tea...

PLB: A Personal Locator Beacon

road end:  see trail head, the end of a road and start of the track

route: a possible passage from location A to location B but not necessarily marked, they are often difficult

saddle: a low passage over a ridge. Usually the easiest route between two valley systems

scree: loose soil or stones inclined on a slope. A tramper can descend these precariously by digging your heels into the slope. Scree slopes often lead to bluffs which is the kiwi name for cliffs

A 'scree'  slope in the East Hawdon Valley

scroggin: (scrog-gain) A snack mixture of nuts, dried fruit, ginger and chocolate (trail mix, GORP)

scroggin thief: The villain who steals all of the chocolate from the scroggin. Don't be a scroggin thief!

SH73: State Highway and the number of the highway. SH73 is the road from Christchurch to Greymouth over Arthur's Pass

sidle: In New Zealand this means to follow a track or walk along the same contour line while tramping (sidling)

slogging: walking in a manner without conviction, usually at the end of a long hot day on a uninteresting track (plodding, yomping, humping, tabbing)

South Island: The European name for the southern of the two main islands of New Zealand. ...Yep...again with the boring names. The Maori name is Te Wai Pounamu or 'the waters of greenstone'...

Stewart Island: smallest and southern most island that makes up the mainland of New Zealand.

swing bridge: suspension bridge usually constructed from wire, rope and wood

'swing the billy': go heat some water for tea and or coffee.

Trampers swinging the billy on an open fire

switch back: a zig zag path up a slope

TA/ Te Araroa Trail: The Te Araroa Trail. This is a newish 3000 km's long distance trail from the top to the bottom of New Zealand

tarn: small mountain pond or lake, often glacial in origin

tops: the top portion of a ridge or mountain range. They are often covered in tussock or low scrub

tramp/tramping/tramper: In New Zealand we tramp, we do not hike although they mean the same thing (hike, ramble, bush walking). A tramper is a person who enjoys walking in the outdoors

tussock: a type of long native grass, present from sea level to over 2000 metres asl

three-wire bridge: a type of bridge which consists of three cables, one for the feet and two for the hands

Typical three wire bridge

'two-wire': a type of bridge with one cable for the feet and one for the hands. Very hard to cross! The term 'two wire' often has words like bastard, god-damn or bloody in front of it... 

trail head: see road-end, start/finish of a track

water-taxi: as it says, a taxi utilising rivers, lakes or the coast as a route. Some areas are only accessible by water taxi, a good example is the Milford Track in Fiordland or Stewart Island. Water taxis are also used in places like the Queen Charlotte Track and Abel Tasman National Park

Watertaxi dropping trampers at Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park