How to plan a tramping wedding

Hey readers.  So this is a very long overdue post.  Dylan and I actually tied the knot in December last year!  Yes  – it’s been over 6 months since we had our wedding, and in the time in between we’ve done a ton of tramping, moved house 3 times, had 4 weeks in the USA (another wedding celebration), moved overseas, I started a new job.  It’s actually been nuts.  So now that we’ve been in Australia for 2 months and have finally just gotten connected to the internet, I actually have time to sit down and tell you how to plan a hiking/tramping themed wedding.

We decided in May last year that we would get married in December (when Dylan graduated with his PhD, so his family only had to come for 1 visit).  I had been toying with the idea of having a tramping wedding as it is our obsession, but I wasn’t quite sure how to pull it off (e.g. spectacular scenery vs. ease of access for guests).  Sadly, a helicopter wedding was out of our budget, but we still wanted something spectacular.

In June, we decided to do a trip along the Livingstone range.  We had a fabulous day across the tops from Key Summit and realized that Key Summit would be the perfect spot for a wedding – only ~1 hour easy walk along the Routeburn track from the Divide – which is a mere 1 hour from Te Anau.  This was feasible.  Easy walk.  Spectacular Scenery.  All we needed was the weather to cooperate…

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Tarns along the Livingston range

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Key Summit – June 2015

In the meantime, I had to alert all of our guests of our crazy plan, as well as find a celebrant and photographer who were willing to get on board with a tramping themed wedding (and were sufficiently flexible considering we were very weather dependent).  Somehow I lucked out and managed to get the most perfect wedding celebrant – DOC worker and former Milford Track Guide, Christine Officer.  I lucked out again when the absolutely amazing photographer Jim Pollard agreed to shoot our wedding.

Fast forward to December…

The weekend before the wedding, Dylan and I decided to head up to Key Summit to scope out locations.  The weather was atrocious.  It was cloudy, rainy, freezing.  It was literally snowing.  Despite it only being a 2 hour walk, by the time we got back to the car, we could barely move our fingers.  We decided to drive farther up the Milford road to scope out additional and alternative locations, as well as possible photo locations – should everything go south on the day of the wedding (weatherwise).

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Scoping out wedding spots

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Lovely weather for a wedding

The week of the wedding was chaos with friends and family arriving from overseas.  To add to the ridiculousness of it all, on the Sunday and Monday before the wedding, Dylan and I took our respective Mothers & Sisters tramping to one of our favourite locations (Brewster hut) to give them a real tramping experience.  It was a pretty epic trip, and despite pushing everyone to their physical limits, they still had a good time.

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Pre-wedding family bonding tramp – success photo!

Upon returning from the tramp, Dylan and I were obsessively watching the forecast for the divide, and keeping our fingers crossed.  The day of our wedding (a Thursday, of all days!) dawned a little breezier than we’d hoped, but it was sunny enough.

We met up with all of our guests in the carpark of the Te Anau Community centre and made a convoy of vehicles driving out to the Divide.  As we got closer and closer to the Divide, the weather became misty, foggy and it started to rain (of course).

At the divide, we had a little pow-wow with our guests, celebrant and photographer and despite our guests being super keen to head up to Key Summit, instead we elected to drive 10 min down the road to a sunny spot…

And I’ll let Jim’s photos take it from here

So there you have it – our tramping wedding.  As per any tramp, the weather didn’t cooperate and it didn’t quite go to plan, but we had a great time anyways.  And of course, our photographer captured it perfectly!

Our Wilderness Wedding-364

A pure New Zealand wedding, with guests wearing tramping boots and all.

Happy tramping!

The Livingstone Range (6-7 June 2015)

Another late post! Dylan and I wanted to get away on an “easy” trip the first weekend in June. We finally decided to tick off a trip that Dylan had wanted to do for 3 years now – the Livingstone range which is the ridgeline just above the Greenstone track.

We set off from work earlyish on a Friday, and made it to the Divide in good time – around 9:30 or so. We had a very crisp walk into the Lake Howden hut – took roughly an hour. I felt very guilty as we arrived into the hut around 11 pm and disturbed another pair who probably weren’t expecting other trampers to come clomping in so late at night.

Frosty fern at Lake Hawdon Hut

Frosty fern at Lake Hawdon Hut

The night was very cold and frosty. I slept about as poorly as I ever have in a hut as it was absolutely freezing. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but I’m certain Howden hut was colder inside than outside. Honestly, even Dylan was cold. It was like sleeping in a fridge.

But we had a decent start and headed back up to Key Summit and had easy travel along the tops – there is a route most of the way. We were rewarded with many spectacular views.

Reflections

Reflections

Frozen tarns

Frozen tarns

As the day progressed, the wind started to pick up and clouds started to come in – it was getting cold and I was getting tired. After some discussion, we decided to head down towards McKellar hut earlier than planned (our original plan was to hit 1543 then come down the ridge as we anticipated there might be a bit of a track there). Instead, we ended up going down a very steep face and then bush bashing for ages. I’m not sure when the last time you tried to bushbash your way through fiordland forest but I do not recommend it. I had no idea that ferns felt so much like razors on bare skin (sure it’s winter but this is NZ so who wears pants, am I right?)!

Descending back down towards McKellar Hut

Descending back down towards McKellar Hut

Bush-bashing

Bush-bashing

After a couple of hours struggling to make our way down, we finally made it back to the Greenstone track. We were very glad to see signs of civilization again. So much for an “easy” day!

Nothing quite like signs of civilization!

Nothing quite like signs of civilization!

That night we had McKellar all to ourselves (some hunters were holed up in the warden’s quarters, however) and managed to get it nice and toasty. And being the good trampers we are, we left it stocked with more wood than was there when we arrived (as many previous trampers complained about the lack of dry wood upon arrival at the hut). I hope whoever arrived after us did the good thing and continued to replenish the hut wood supply.

Re-stocking the wood in the hut

Re-stocking the wood in the hut

Paying it forward... leaving heaps of wood for future trampers

Paying it forward… leaving heaps of wood for future trampers

Sunday was a super easy day after our wood making session. And as a bonus, we came across this little guy – a species of fungus I had never seen before – for which I was incredibly thrilled.

Hotlips Puffball - Calostoma rodwayi

Hotlips Puffball – Calostoma rodwayi

Have you been able to get out on many trips this winter? Happy Tramping!