One of the reasons some people appreciate, find fulfilment in, tramping is that pushing beyond life’s comfort zone, past our cotton wool existence of everyday routines and must dos. Views, exertion and accomplishment are all very well, to me stretching my understanding of life is a major aspect of my treks.
The South Island and its lesser travelled tracks seem to offer a unique possibility of experience and that is this: freedom from distraction.
When you march around, say, the North-west Circuit on Stewart Island, 125km without a town, a shop, not many other people, or much in the way of cell phone or internet coverage, the trip can become a two week full-on meditation on life.
For a while you can forget responsibilities and obligations. Expectations don’t mean much out there. Frustrations: not much sympathy.
There’s the opportunity of concentrating on timeless human characteristics: physical effort, the rhythm of breathing, the pattern of the day, the sun across that big sky, etc.
The basic possibility is this: free from distraction you can confront the person that you are and dream about who you would like to be, how you would like to live the rest of your life.
And, maybe just as importantly, you can learn to appreciate the world as it is, unmediated.