I review a year’s hiking in New Zealand post-Covid lockdown, a year in which I did 72 full sized day-hikes, 68 of them new to me.
In the year since the first New Zealand Covid-19 lockdown ended in late April 2020 I completed 72 hikes (“tramps” in the NZ vernacular), and fifteen shorter walks. Of the 72 hikes 68 were new to me (I had done one before, and I repeated just three). I will explain how I came to do so many walks in a moment. But first, and in order to show off a bit, I will regale you with a few statistics:
68,500m (~225,000ft) of ascent and descent
Almost 900km (~550mi) of walking
On 64 of these hikes I climbed to a peak or other high point, ranging between 445m and 2333m high, and averaging 1000m of ascent and descent each time
58 of these high points were named peaks over 1000m of elevation, so I incidentally completed the 52 Peaks Challenge
All of these tramps were on New Zealand’s South Island, and completed as day-walks; I did all but three of them with my wife Sophia (& she did an overnighter I didn’t do)
Studies have shown that outdoor activities like hiking can benefit our mental health in a variety of ways. In this article I consider some of the ways hiking has been good for me.
Hiking and Mental Health
A recent review of numerous scientific studies shows that physical exercise in the natural environment can improve our mental health in a variety of ways. Activities such as hiking, snow sports, surfing and outdoor climbing can reduce negative mood states, increase positive psychological experiences, improve self esteem, and contribute to psychologically healthy ageing. As a keen hiker myself I can relate to many of the positive experiences people report.
Hiking has become a mild obsession for me nowadays, and after reading this study I had a think about why I enjoy it so much. Below are the results of my musings…