Backcountry Kiwi Cuisine

When confronted with a beautiful sunset, trampers often ponder one of  life’s important questions…
– “what’s for dinner tonight?”

Kiwi Bird and I like tramping (also known as hiking outside Kiwi Land), and we like good food. On a tramp, once everyone gets cozy in the hut, trampers always start to check out each other’s dinner. On our recent Mildford tramp, we met a lot of overseas visitors, and it was the first time I realised people actually buy Backcountry Cuisine these backcountry dinner packet things! I was pretty surprised. I’ve always wondered who’d buy these, because I was never enticed to try them out, especially given the price! (Not cheap!) The overseas trampers we met thought it was standard food for Kiwi trampers, and were most curious of what we brought for dinner if not these.

Here’s a list of the food we usually take on a tramp.

Whole wheat couscous or bulgur
Definitely the winner of our tramping dinner! It is fast to cook (just boil water, add couscous, cover and wait for 5 mins). It takes the least amount of time and gas to prepare, and the whole wheat couscous or bulgur provides more fibre than normal couscous. It’s a good thing to have fibre in tramping food – backcountry long drops (loos) are not somewhere you want to spent a whole lot of time in.
Noodles
Rice
Risotto is something we do on nearly every multi-day tramp.
Pasta
We don’t do these so much these days because a large amount of water needs to be boiled than drained, making it less economic or efficient tramping choice.
Bagels and Naans
These don’t get squashed easily in a pack, so are ideal for tramping. (Not fond of pita bread myself – don’t ask me why.)
Cheese (good flavoursome ones)
Old AmsterdamGood, I mean REAL cheese like these may cost a lot more, but they are so packed with flavour you only need to carry a fraction of the weight compare to how much you’d need to carry if you are carrying those supermarket plasticky junk. Our favourite is the good old OLD Amsterdam 🙂
Salami
A good keeper for days and days!
Pesto
These are not the lightest thing, but they are so packed of flavour, they are well worth the weight. On a longer tramp (several days), we take a few small tubs of different ones. I stir these through couscous or add to risotto for dinner, as well as having them on bread for lunch.
Tomato paste
Again, something dense in flavour to add to dinner.
Chocolates
Definitely never go on a tramp without blocks (notice the plural) of these food for gods!

Air-popped fruits
We used to take dried fruits, until I found these in the local Asian shop. They are definitely a keeper in our tramping packs! These are wonderful and light. They weight nothing but taste good (like fruit!), and gives us the fibre we so lack from fresh fruits and veges on tramps!
Muesli bars
Good snacks on the go.
Nuts
Wonderful, can’t do without! Can be snacks or add to dinner!
Korean sushi seasonings
I used to take instant soup packets to act as sauce or seasoning for dinner. These days I take these – they are also my new discovery from the local Asian shop. These have real veges, seaweeds, and sesames in them, and don’t taste foul when rehydrated. Those soup packets are OK if you can manage to fine decent ones, but these sushi seasonings win hands down!
Muesli
For breakfast.
Milk powder
Also for breakfast.
Hard liquor!
A good tramp just isn’t complete without some good liquor to warm your heart and soul on the cold nights in the bush. And if you have to take liquor, take the hard stuff! Else it’s just a lot of excess liquid in the pack! Oh of course you can also carry a watermelon to go with your vodka, and don’t forget your melon baller and your iron if your are going fancy 😉 (If you think I’ve gone bonkers, read the footnote.)

Tea and coffee are common things many trampers take. But Kiwi Bird and I are pretty happy just having our good nip with us on a tramp. I cannot stand instant coffee, and teabags are only borderline acceptable to me.

Now, I hope this answers a few curious minds, and perhaps help some fellow trampers pack food for your next endeavour. On shorter, less strenuous tramps, we do like to get a little spoilt by taking fresh veges with us, oh and perhaps a little more good nip 😉 See, the good old Kiwi backcountry cuisine isn’t so grey and grime, is it?!

The best tramping dinner I’ve ever had was on a short-ish girls tramp with a few good cooks amongst us.

Note: I, being a sensible tramper, of course have never taken a watermelon, nor a melon baller, let alone an iron on a tramp. Watermelon was actually discussed as the most useless food a person can/may take on a tramp in one of our past tramping dinner conversations. Somehow, our legendary friend Sam took that as a challenge, and secretly carried a watermelon in his pack on our subsequent tramp. On our first day of ascent, he declared pretty much every food item known to mankind as being heavy!, only to produce a watermelon from his pack once we set up camp for the night. Then he made sure we finish the watermelon so he would not need to carry it for another day. Somehow he did not bring the melon baller, much to us fellow trampers’ disappointment. Oh, and the iron – it was a prank Kiwi Bird’s past flatmate pulled on another friend. Moral of the story – always double check your pack before you set off!

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2 thoughts on “Backcountry Kiwi Cuisine

  1. Hey Jess, We’ll go to Norway in a week to do a lot of tramping. I’m really happy with your tips&tricks. I had to convince B. not to buy these dinner packets. I think your blog did the job :).
    CU Greetje

    • Nice! Can’t wait to hear all about your tramps in Norway. Around the Fjords I’m guessing? Are you camping or staying in those cute wood cabins? Cous cous are the best tramping food! Wish you a lovely time!

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