Richie and Gemma McCaw conquer Mt Richardson to raise mountain safety awareness

Gemma and Richie exploring the Puketeraki Ranges over the long weekend. Photo: Supplied / MSC
Gemma and Richie exploring the Puketeraki Ranges over the long weekend. Photo: Supplied / MSC
Gemma and Richie McCaw were in the Canterbury hills over the long weekend, road testing a new tool to help Kiwis explore their backyard and get home safely.

The Black Sticks star and former Crusaders great conquered Mt Richardson with the help of a new Mountain Safety Council app aimed at hikers.

The Plan My Walk app is about giving Kiwis the confidence to tackle mountains safely, said Richie.

"Sometimes the health and safety side of getting outdoors can stop some people, but the app encourages and makes it a really easy thing to be able to do," he said.

The sporting power-couple have been promoting domestic travel to New Zealanders as more of us are expected to head out into the bush this summer.

"We are privileged to have what we have here in New Zealand," he said, but the wilder parts can be "unforgiving".

Gemma said she's aware people will see the couple's photos from Puketeraki Range on social media without seeing the planning and steps taken to get there.

"A lot of them say they want to go and do that," she said, and the Plan My Walk app collects all the elements you need to know before you head to the summit.

"Summer is a great opportunity to get out and about, and try it out, and do something new and exciting," she said.

MSC chief executive Mike Daisley told the Herald that they have already seen 50,000 hikers pick up the app.

"The most popular features has been recommendations for nearby walks and trails," says Daisley.

Containing up-to-date weather, DOC trail conditions and even packing recommendations, he said it was a "great starting point" for any trip into the mountains.

5 steps to planning the perfect hike

• Find the right trip. Learning a bit about the track and asking people who have done it before can help you navigate the huge range of public trails available. Know that this can change depending on season, weather or time of day.

• Understand the weather. Not just "check" the weather. Most forecasts you get straight to your phone are fine for working out if you need to take a brolly to the shops. "Understand what is over the horizon and how things could change, and let that influence your choice of walk."

• Pack some warm clothes and extra food. The absolute minimum is a rainproof layer and a snack. "If things go awry you have the absolute minimum needed for an unexpected night out on the mountain."

• Share your plans. "Not just a text to say, 'I'm going tramping, Mum.'" Specific routes and planned return time are vital - not just for Mum's peace of mind but for giving LandSAR a starting point.

• Stick together. If you're a group of mixed hiking abilities, there can be a temptation to forge ahead. Likewise resist the temptation to "take a rest" and catch up later. If you can't see each other, you can't help one another. The new Plan My Walk app can help you plan a lot of factors, but picking your walking buddies is up to you. Look after each other.



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