Autumn is one of the best times of year to get out into the bush. Trails carpeted with golden, crunchy leaves, quieter tracks, cooler days and abundant wildlife. What more could you want?

Nothing! Autumn hiking is perfect.

 

Autumn is one of the best times of year to get out into the bush. Trails carpeted with golden, crunchy leaves, quieter tracks, cooler days and abundant wildlife. What more could you want?Nothing! Autumn hiking is perfect. Find out more....

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Why you should go Autumn Hiking

  • There tend to be fewer crowds than in the summer
  • Autumn leaves make for a colourful atmosphere (plus, they are fun to crunch through)
  • Crisp, fresh air always is good to clear the head
  • Moody photo shot opportunities are in abundance
  • Autumn has much cooler weather than in the summer (huzzah for slightly less smelly clothes)
  • No more mozzies. Biiiiig bonus!

leaf

Check the weather

Weather can be unpredictable and changeable in the Autumn, there tends to be more rain and wind. This makes for some dangerous conditions if you are heading to the open tops of a mountain range.

Keep in mind that the weather can change very quickly in Autumn so always pack wet weather gear and have an escape route planned, just in case. Temperatures often differ between the trailhead and the peak so keep this in mind when you head out.

Layers, layers, layers

Layers are so important, especially on your autumn hike you will need to pack all of your layers, ya know, just in case. Often the air is crisp and fresh but you will warm up fairly quickly once you get started. Layers are essential to maintain a comfortable core body temperature. Layer off as you warm up when you hike and chuck an extra layer or two on when you stop to maintain the heat that you have worked up.

You will need

  • a base layer (such as a quick dry top),
  • a mid layer (something loose and cool),
  • a top layer (fleece top or sweater)
  • and an outter shell (windproof/waterproof jacket).

Waterproof gear

Waterproof gear is essential in autumn. Rain likes to rear it’s lovely wet head even if it isn’t forecasted. Make sure you chuck a waterproof jacket in your pack and it’s always a good idea to throw some waterproof trousers in there too.


 

Pack your camera

Autumn is a treat for the eyes, crisp colours, misty mountains and raindrop laced leaves. It is the perfect time to take your camera for a wee walk. Just make sure that is charged first. Rookie mistake (that I have made several times).

Quickfire photography tips

  • When you want nature shots sans people, go out earlier in the morning before the people show up in popular destinations to disrupt the nature view. You can take advantage of the morning golden hour and not be limited by your shots. Plus, it often feels like you are the only person awake when you are photographing at sunrise which is always nice.
  • Check your white balance. This is especially important when you take photos of snow and ice. It’s hard for your camera to focus on an all-white or all grey scene, but if you can set your White Balance manually before taking the photos then they should turn out great.
  • Experiment. Experiment with the settings on your camera, playing with the different modes and taking different types of photographs.
  • Use a tripod (or a makeshift one if needed. I used my hiking pack on my last hike as a tripod), especially if doing a close up. Shaking will show up more with a close-up shot, you want to be sure to use a tripod to keep the camera steady. You’ll be glad you did it because no matter how good you are, the tripod is better.
  • Set the focus if you are playing with the macro mode. Macro enables the camera to photograph clearly images that are close to the lens. It’s great for taking sharp images of flowers, bugs, small items, or anything an inch or so from the camera.
  • Using autofocus doesn’t mean you’re a bad photographer. Predictive autofocus works for birds or any animal moving. You can lock on the image before you take the picture so that you can track the movement before you take the shot
  • The best shots happen when you are in the right place at the right time. When you see some great scenes happening, don’t delay or worry about camera settings – just start taking pictures. Set it on autofocus and automatic and just start framing the images. The frame is more important than your worrying about camera settings.
  • The best shots happen when you are in the right place at the right time. When you see some great scenes happening, don’t delay or worry about camera settings – just start taking pictures. Set it on autofocus and automatic and just start framing the images. The frame is more important than your worrying about camera settings.
  • The best shots happen when you are in the right place at the right time. When you see some great scenes happening, don’t delay or worry about camera settings – just start taking pictures. Set it on autofocus and automatic and just start framing the images. The frame is more important than your worrying about camera settings.

Read More: Nature photography tips

 

The best kind of leaves

 

Time your walk well + start early

The sun doesn’t stay out for as long during autumn so if you are headed out for a long hike, you will need to start earlier than you would in summer. Case in point, my son and I planned to do an overnight hike last week but had to cut our hike short as the day started getting away from us. Make sure you allow plenty of time to finish your hike during daylight hours (unless you like hiking in the dark).

This may mean changing your plans to a hike closer to home or a shorter hike if you sleep through your alarm (been there, done that, designed the t-shirt).

Top Tip: Pack a headtorch just in case the day slips away from you. Best it sits unused in your pack adding a little bit of extra weight than fumbling around in the dark with a dying cell phone light.

Do some research

As with all hikes, do your research before heading out. In Autumn, however, you also need to check to see if there are any streams that may be starting to get fuller than they have been over summer, some tracks might also be closed. If you know any locals, give them a shout as they will know the area better than anyone. They will be able to let you know of any changes to the tracks and what condition the track is in. Locals will also know the best tracks to tackle during winter. For example, my favourite autumn hike is Coppermine Creek. It is simply stunning with a golden carpet of autumn leaves and the creek winding its way through the changing trees.

The Department of Conservation website has updates on track information, hiking times and any hazards that may be in the area.

Sun protection

Even though the sun isn’t as prominent as in the summer, you will still need to pack some sun protection.

Sun protection is part of the 10 essentials and includes

  • Sunglasses: Sunglasses will help prevent squinting in photos, protect your eyes from damaging rays and make for a much more pleasant hike. If you’re planning prolonged travel on snow or ice, you’ll need extra-dark glacier glasses.
  • Sunscreen: Wearing sunscreen is recommended to help limit your exposure to UV. In New Zealand conditions, you will need a very high sun protection factor (SPF) such as 50+. It’s like there’s a hole in the ozone layer or something down here…. Try to choose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply at least every two hours (more if sweating or planning on ploughing through a lot of water).
  • Sun-protection clothing: Clothing can be an effective way of blocking UV rays from reaching your skin without having to slather on sunscreen (you’ll still need sunscreen for any exposed skin, like your face, neck and hands). Many lightweight, synthetic pieces of clothing come with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating to indicate how effective the pieces are against UVA and UVB light. A hat, preferably one with a full brim, is a key accessory for sun protection.
  • Hat: a wide-brimmed hat is best, one that keeps the sun off your neck, ears and face.

Wear sturdier boots

Mud, slippery tracks, puddles, faster flowing creeks and emerging snow all make for tricky trail conditions that trainers just won’t cut the mustard. Sturdier boots are the best option when you are tackling hikes during this time of the year. They will protect your ankles, give you more stability and more grip on the trails that you are most likely going to encounter.

Read More: How to choose the perfect pair of hiking boots


Slow down

Make the most of your hike, slow down and take heed of the colours that surround you. Breathe in the fresh air. Stop for photographs. Listen to the music of the wildlife.

Hunters

Hunting season is ripe in autumn.

Wear bright colours, stick to marked trails and always tell someone where you are going. You can get bright pack covers, these are a good investment if you are going somewhere that is popular with hunters.

autumn leaf

Final Thoughts

Autumn is my favourite time for a hike. I love the crisp air and the crunchy leaves. It brings me right back to childhood. The trails are less crowded and the sun isn’t as relentless. In my opinion, it is the perfect time to chuck on the hiking boots and get out into the bush.

What season is your fave for hiking? Let me know in the comments

Jem

Hiking through the seasons

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Autumn is one of the best times of year to get out into the bush. Trails carpeted with golden, crunchy leaves, quieter tracks, cooler days and abundant wildlife. What more could you want?Nothing! Autumn hiking is perfect. Find out more....Autumn is one of the best times of year to get out into the bush. Trails carpeted with golden, crunchy leaves, quieter tracks, cooler days and abundant wildlife. What more could you want?Nothing! Autumn hiking is perfect. Find out more....

 

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