Get the low down on the Hiking New Zealand and Active Earth Adventures team. We asked Daniel Murphy what he gets up to when he is not working and/or hiking.
Dan Murphy - Co-owner and South Island Operatons Manager
There were no towns involved. I was lucky enough to grow up a country kid in the bucolic setting of the Pohangina Valley, which is in the Manawatu province of the North Island. It was New Zealand rural splendor at its best, well that’s how I remember it!
I ‘emigrated’ to the South Island with Anne back in 2000 after four years or so of living and travelling overseas. As much as I loved the travel and the experience of living in the Northern hemisphere, it did make me truly appreciate New Zealand and what a privilege it is to live here and call New Zealand home.
What do you do when you are not working or hiking?
I’m scratching my head as I think… (this is my version of the ‘Blue Steel look”)
Kids! I have two of them and they seem to consume a lot of my time. They are at an age where they are great fun and cool to be around so I am not complaining.
I also like mountain biking and try and get out for a blast on some good single track or up in the forest when I can. I also need to make sure I’m keeping fit as its really embarrassing when you are a hiking guide and you cannot keep up with your clients! I’m currently in training for The Pioneer, which is a 7-day mountain bike stage race between Christchurch and Queenstown. A mate of mine and I decided to enter not long after we completed our own multi day back-country ride, which you can read in our Active Earth Adventures blog.
Favorite coffee haunt?
Now that’s a serious question. I like my local café called FOD - friendly staff and they have bulletproof coffee on their menu. I feel like quite a renegade, when ordering a coffee that has extra fat added!
Favourite hiking trip?
The Huayhuash trek, Peru.
Have you done it?
No! But I am going to do it in August 2017.
Why choose this trip?
I have always had a fascination with South America and Peru in particular. There just seems to be so much on offer there for the traveller with a keen sense of adventure. When I go hiking I like to be among and near big mountains, not necessarily climbing them, but being in their midst and feeling small and dwarfed in their presence. For this reason, the Huayhuash is calling.
Within a range of about 30km there are six peaks over 6,000 meters in altitude and 20 over 5000 meters. The trek itself is about 150km, crosses 10 passes and usually takes about 10 days to complete a circuit of the range.
It is trekking not mountaineering, but the altitude and the fact that you are above 4000 meters most of the time add to the challenge of trekking in these mountains. I know this from completing the Santa Cruz circuit with my family in 2015, and while it is much shorter than the Huayhuash, it is at similar altitudes. It takes a bit of acclimatization before you get your usual spring back in your stride!
Anything special about your favourite trip?
May to September are the best months for trekking in this part of the Andes. The weather is much more settled and chances are you will be treated to blue skies most days with a stunning skyline of ice carved peaks.
However, you need to go prepared with warm and waterproof hiking gear as you are in the mountains and it is a region that does experience extremes. Nights can fall well below freezing (down to minus 10 deg C).
I also recommend taking ‘Diamox’ to help alleviate the symptoms of being at high altitude. Although I confess to trying to be stoic at one point during the Santa Cruz circuit and thinking I could acclimatize naturally, when my head started to feel like it was in a vice I popped a Diamox and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the symptoms abated. The only drawback was having to put up with Anne (wife) crowing on about her not needing to take Diamox on the trek!
Take some spending money for buying souvenirs in Huaraz. Not only are you supporting the local economy you can actually pick up some good value alpaca jerseys, socks, gloves, legwarmers or you may want to go all out and get a poncho!