“Mountain Safety Council urges hikers to be prepared before hitting the trails”

People planning to go hiking over the long weekend are being urged to be careful and start their walks early in the day.

Mountain Safety Council chief executive Mike Daisley said Labour Weekend typically signalled the start of the tramping season, bringing thousands of Kiwis to trails around the country.

“People are really itching to stretch their legs and travel a bit further away from home,” he said.

But Daisley warned outdoorsy types not to get ahead of themselves.

“It’s still spring, it’s not summer yet. Yes, the daylight hours are getting longer, but it’s not up to full summer hours yet,” he said.

“So we’re advising people to head out as early as they can, because the twilight gets pretty cold very quickly.”

He said changes in weather could catch people off guard, particularly in spring.

“Take some basic thermals with you, take some extra layers,” he said.

“A rain jacket, even if the forecast doesn’t say it will rain.”

Daisley said some trails throughout the South Island may still have dustings of snow.

“If you’re expecting it you should be fine, but if it’s unexpected our advice is just to head back and try a different trail.”

Daisley said it was vital to leave enough time for a safe descent.

“Something that does catch a lot of people out, we can see it in the stats, they’ve gone out for a day and things have just taken a little bit longer [than expected],” he said.

“The kids have been a bit slower than expected, you’re just enjoying the view, or the worst case scenario is you’ve injured yourself or got a bit lost.”

Those minor delays could add up, he said.

“Suddenly its dark and cold and you’re totally unprepared for it.”

If someone got trapped or lost, Daisley said they should stay where they were and wait for help.

“It’s quite easy to get a bit misplaced. If you don’t know where you are, it’s just best to stay put,” he said.

“Get yourself a bit of shelter from the wind, if it’s raining get out of the rain if you can.”

“Wandering around in the bush will make you a moving target for search and rescue teams [trying] to find you.”

Daisley hoped lots of New Zealanders could enjoy the great outdoors while staying safe this weekend.

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