When I was a very young girl (pre teen) I did a lot of tramping with my family. Just day trips, but always fairly strenuous, and yet completed with the bare minimums of sneakers, home made nylon day packs (oh how I hated mine which would dig into my shoulders and get hot and sweaty), and a picnic lunch that invariably included warm Raro, a scotch egg and a lettuce sandwich.
Throughout my teens my family camped in Camping grounds, the same ones year on year, always handy to the kitchen and ablution blocks, and I would sleep in a set of camp bunk beds (eek) in the awning of our camper, or a sheeted off area of the tent - until I got my own at age 18, a ''southern cross tours'' centre pole affair that leaked, couldn't be touched in the wet and had no floor. ah luxury that was! The same day walking trips would apply, only this time I would usually insist on wearing shorts and jandals and come back blistered and sunburnt.
I set off on my OE and camped/backpacked around Europe a couple of times. It was brilliant! Me and my pack and a sleeping bag, and not a whole lot more. But on my return to NZ decided that I was done with roughing it and my future holidays would be by car, staying in a minimum 3 star accommodation, and using a wheeled suitcase.
And so for the past few years that's what's been happening. Tramping (and that's a broad exaggeration of the actual activity) was restricted to one day, usually child-friendly, ventures.
And then this summer everything changed. I had the pleasure of four days on the Coro, in DOC camps with the barest of essentials and the most amazing of views. And then just last week, 4 days and 48 km of tramping around one of New Zealands most beautiful places.
Sure, it's easy to make light of the bare-essentials style camping trip - there were a few things (like a warm shower) that might have made this better...but mid summer, with a river nearby it didn't matter in the least. And yes, a tramping trip such as this was made all the better by having fantastic companions, great weather, and no kids.
But, despite the aches and pains, and the previously un-experienced simplicity of both of these places, I have to say I'm a convert. It was a reminder of a simpler life unencumbered by technology and noise. It was good to see and appreciate parts of the country I had never visited before. It was wonderful to share these experiences with someone I care about deeply. And it was FUN. It really was.
And those things, surely, are the stuff that all good holidays should be made from, don't you think?