Best of 2019 – Hiking overseas

For the first time I did more hiking overseas than in New Zealand this year, walking in the Himalayas, Asia, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Europe. Looking back on the year I can’t quite believe how much I did, so many incredible hikes. Here they are in chronological order…

Kalaw, Myanmar
An enjoyable 20km day walk around the hills and villages surrounding the British era hill station of Kalaw, between Mandalay and Lake Inle. This is fertile land, well cultivated by the locals, and being Myanmar of course there was at least one pagoda.

South Coast, Western Australia
Four half day walks in Fitzgerald River National Park, Cape Le Grand National Park, and Porongurup National Park. There were incredible sunset views from East Mt Barren, unusual rock formations on Frenchman’s Peak, stunning coastal views between Thistle Cove and Rossiter Bay, and more gigantic rocks at Granite Skywalk Castle Rock.

Mt Kinabalu, Borneo
The highest peak between Myanmar and Papua New Guinea, 4,095m above sea level, which seemed high until I went to Bhutan. There wasn’t much time for acclimatisation though, going from sea level to the summit in a couple of days. It was tough but walking to the summit under the light of an Easter full moon and seeing the sunrise was an unforgettable experience.

Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
Only really known to Australians (as the site of their battles against the Japanese in 1942), the Kokoda Track has a reputation as being a tough slog through tropical rainforest. I found it easier and more enjoyable than expected, it is wonderfully different to most other walks. I loved spending time in remote Papua New Guinean villages, talking to the locals about their lives, and there were plenty of relics from the battles fought here during WW2.

Haute Route, France, Switzerland
One of the toughest but most scenic hikes I’ve done, though much of the difficulty was from doing a 14 day walk in 9 days, a good challenge! The whole thing was quite incredible, with spectacular scenery, wonderful accommodation, and great weather. Walking the Haute Route from Chamonix (Mont Blanc) to Zermatt (the Matterhorn) was one of my favourite hiking experiences to date.

Luana Snowman, Bhutan
By far the longest hike I’ve ever done, spending a month walking though remote parts of Bhutan, often close to the border with Tibet. This was my first experience hiking in the Himalayas, though this is not a typical trek, with only around 50 people a year completing what is regarded as one of the hardest in the region. I learnt that while it was physically challenging to walk nearly everyday for a month, and sleep at up to 5,200m above sea level, the mental challenge was greater, particularly the unpredictable weather.

Leave a Reply