|Lake Waikaremoana is very noice|
|Day One: Is it fun yet?|
|First night's hut. We found a trapped rat outside in the morning.|
|Tramping brings out the best in you (Longdrop Dunnies silhouetted in background)|
|All you could ever want at your bedside|
|Oh hello! Us in the spacious bunkroom|
|Playing cards of an eve|
|Sharon, you are really spoiling us with this burnt porridge|
|Gosh, Big Bens again, lovely|
Why do I keep doing this Great Outdoor nonsense? Because otherwise I would lose my Kiwi passport (true fact). It's only this year, at age 51, I've admitted to myself: I hate camping, I hate staying in huts, I hate cooking on those tiny burners and the constant packing and unpacking. But keep that confession under your skirt. Kiwis must love to tramp.
Off we set: me, Kevin, sister Sharon, her husband Adam, sister Pietra, childhood friend Kerry and her partner Reece, and Jackson and his cousin Finn, both 14. The rest of the kids had refused to come.
We left comfy beds, a fridge full of hams and pies - and headed out to three days of eating white gop. And sleeping next to strangers who snored.
Day One was five hours tramp upwards through mud to a hut with warning signs: rats everywhere, inside and out.
Keen trampers are an efficient, happy bunch. We watched in awe as they put on their "hut shoes" after which they unpacked their tiny sporks and fifes, unzipped their zippy things and clicked their clicky things. Then cook, eat and scrub up with lots of good natured joshing about each other's gadgets.
"Why is that family so happy?" I grumbled after dinner, pointing over to three families who were glowing with card playing and homemade fruitcake. "Oh they have wine" I replied to myself bitterly, much in the way of Colleen, Jack's Mum in 30 Rock who is always trying to decimate seemingly contented families.
Meanwhile our family operates on "She'll be right, mate." There was the heavy unsuitable food - messy honey sandwiches for lunch, messy porridge for breakfast...and let's just say the clean-up and head-off was basically shoving half-clean dishes into a black garbage bag and...heading off.
Of course we hadn't brought "hut shoes" so there were also the barefoot treks to the Longdrop Dunny (again, apologies for the technical terms here, stay with me) where a phantasmagoria of treats awaited.
Bloody hell, I said on Day Three as I crawled into the car to head home, my stomach swollen to the size of a football from eating low IQ carbs for three days: "That was torcha, never doing that again." Until next time.
Is there anything you do over and over again to be patriotic?