On a multiday tramp you'll be on the march for several hours a day, often over rough terrain. And almost inevitably there'll be some challenging ups and downs.

All this while carrying a weighty load on your back.

So how do you get the level of fitness these tramps demand?

The following two articles from our Wanderlust magazine should help answer that question.

The first by Andrew Murdoch appeared in our June 2020 edition; the second is from an Uncle Wacko column in September 2020.

How to get fit for big multiday tramps

As Aucklanders, we’re most fortunate to live in a land abundant with bucket-list multiday tramping destinations. Getting fit enough to be able to enjoy these destinations, be they in the Kawekas, Tararuas, Nelson Lakes or Aspiring country can be a challenge for us though.

A reasonable cardio base is never a bad thing and can be got in many ways, but pack fitness (the ability to walk up and down a sustained hill with a 10-15kg on your back) is a specific tramping fitness and added to it is a requirement for stamina.

Fortunately getting tramping fit is easy for the keen tramper: just go tramping!

The issue for Aucklanders is that our local tramping, such as it is, isn't sufficient training to prepare us for bigger southern hills no matter how much we do of it.Tararuas uphillATC trampers cresting a rise in the Tararuas

What is needed are sustained climbs and descents of 700 vertical metres or more, and the occasional 8+ hour day to build stamina. Don’t go too nuts on pack weight or you’ll wear yourself out. Try a 7-10kg pack including 3-4l of water, some of which you can tip out at the top to make the descent easier on your knees.

If you’re interested in joining one of our extended tramps to the North or South Island Mountains, consider adding some of the following (or similar trips) to your tramping/training regime in the 2-3 months preceding.

This is definitely a good idea for Medium multiday trips, and vital for those graded Med-Fit or Fit. If no suitable club day or weekend tramp is running and you don’t have anyone to train with, maybe put up a post on the club’s Facebook page.

The following training tramps are all within 2-2.5 hrs drive from Auckland:

Day Tramps

Mt Pirongia: Grey Rd loop: up Mahaukura, down Tirohanga & Link tracks

Mt Te Aroha loop: up Te Aroha track (Bald Spur), down Tui Mine Road & Tui Domain Track

Waiorongomai loop: up on to the main Kaimai range via Pylon Peak Track, hang a left and head north along the range to  Waipapa Track, hang another left and head to Waiorongomai Saddle then head down the valley by one of the various tracks and inclines

Pinnacles loop: drive up to the top of the Kauaeranga Valley behind Thames, up Webb Creek Track, down Billygoat Track

If you don’t have a full day, get up early and do the Te Henga Walkway, Bethells Road to Constable Road return – that’ll give you 20-odd kms of upping and downing over 5 or 6 hours. BUT Note - right at the moment the coastal section of the track is closed because some of it fell into the sea. As an alternative, from the Karamatura carpark and head along Karamatura, Mt Donald McLean (good summit views), Puriri Ridge, Omanawanui (spectacular views) to Whatipu and back ... or any shorter section(s)  that fit your time budget

Overnight Tramps

Mt Pirongia, Limeworks Loop Road loop: up Bell Track, down Tahuanui Track

Kaimai North: Day 1 up Pylon Pk Track, Waiorongomai Valley, down to Waitawheta Hut, along tramline to Daly’s Clearing. Day 2 up Mangakino Pack Track to Waiorongomai Saddle, down valley back to start

Kaimai North/Central: Day 1 up Pylon Pk Track, south along main range to Te Rereatukahia Hut. Day 2 Wharawhara, Waitawheta, Waipapa Tracks to Waiorongomai Saddle, down valley back to start

The Kaimai offers a wealth of other good options for overnight / weekend trips

A Bit Challenging?

Some of the tramps suggested may be challenging (that’s the idea really) but they'll sure help get you fit. And it’s always going to be a good idea, even on a day trip, to carry a decent amount of food and water, a hard shell, insulation, a reliable means of navigation, a torch and a plb.

Don’t be the muppet tramper that ends up getting avoidable negative media attention or worse.

Uncle WackoTramping Fitness - hit your local volcanic cone!

A couple of Wanderlusts ago Uncle Andy rabbited on about how to get tramping fit. What he said sure ain’t rocket science – just go tramping. 

Now Uncle Wacko’s going to tell you how to complement those (training) tramps he recommended with a bit of solid effort during the week – how to make the most of an hour or so of regular exercise in your local ‘hood.

Combine this little programme with Uncle Andy’s training tramps and you’ll soon be fitter than the Duracell Bunny and charging up the hills.

Step 1Big King

Pick a volcanic cone within cooey of home – ideally one you can walk or cycle to.

Step 2

Suss out a steep but not precipitous route directly up the side that’ll simulate a good tramping climb.

Step 3

Whip out your GPS and get the altitude at the bottom, climb to the top and get the altitude there. This gives you your vertical gain – typically 30-50m on most of our city “Mounts”, a bit more for the higher ones. The photo is of Big King - a 35m climb x 6 gives a 200m+ vertical gain in 30 minutes of effort.

Step 4

Set your target – say a 200m vertical climb – and work out how many times up and down that’ll need.

Step 5

Do it. And time how long it takes.

Step 6

Head home feeling smug.

And then ...

Knock this out 3-5 days a week and you’ll be amazed how your hill-climbing ability and general fitness will improve – it works a treat.

Then as your fitness improves you can:

  • increase your vertical climb metres
  • pick up the pace – beat your times 
  • carry a (heavier) pack


Of course if you’d rather blob out on the couch and have a coronary on your next decent tramp, you can always do that instead …

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko