Grab your boots, your backpack and be ready to embrace nature, because that's what the Palmerston North Tramping and Mountaineering Club is all about.
Lucy Townend catches up with the club's president to find out more.
How would I describe tramping, ponders Anne Lawrence, president of the Palmerston North Tramping and Mountaineering Club.
"Well, the first half hour you're tramping along wondering, ‘Why on earth am I doing this?', because it's hard work, it's uncomfortable and it's muddy.
"Then after about an hour you think, ‘Oh, actually this is pretty good', then the rest of the time you enjoy it."
It's a hugely rewarding experience, she says, and the hours spent slogging up sides of mountains every weekend are worth it.
She lists seeing some of Manawatu's most scenic locations, the exhilarating feeling of reaching the summit and the friends among the perks.
"Tramping's a very social thing, because you're kind of living in each other's pockets, so you soon learn to get on with other people pretty quick and we're an interesting collection of people, you could even say quite quirky . . . so it's always great fun."
Mrs Lawrence has been involved in the club for about 15 years, and has scaled mountain tops and rolling ranges all over New Zealand. Recently she took her 21-year-old niece, and first-time tramper, to Rangiwahia Hut located high above sea level in the ridges between Dannevirke and Taihape.
"Now that's a hut accessible to almost anybody . . . it's a great place to go for an introduction to tramping."
But the spot she holds dear to her heart is Ruahine Corner - a hut nestled to the north of the Ruahine Range sitting on the edge of the Manawatu-Whanganui and Hawke's Bay border.
After a few tramps this summer, she'll soon be traversing Stewart Island for the first time and from there it'll be back to club events.
This weekend is a trip to Yeoman's Track and the historic Ellis Hut in the eastern Ruahines, before starting February with a summer stroll to Atiwhakatu Hut in the eastern Tararuas.
All the club's trips are graded depending on the terrain, the weather and who's attending, so first-time trampers or new members are never made uncomfortable, she says.
And, one of the benefits of tramping, over other pastimes, is it's very affordable, she says.
"I would think it's one of the cheapest hobbies or sports you could be involved in, unless you're an absolute gear freak.
"All you need are some tramping boots, a warm layer, like a hat and a raincoat, a backpack and that's about it."
However, the club's not all about pounding the paths and exploring the bush.
It teaches a lot about mountain safety and snow craft, route finding and map reading, compass study and GPS work, as well as leadership skills and teaching people how to deal with difficult situations.
A lot of the club members volunteer for search and rescue teams and help the Department of Conservation with trapping pests like stoats.
The club has also taken over the task of maintaining public huts in the Ruahine Forest Park and is one of the first groups in New Zealand to sign a management agreement with DOC to take over this responsibility.
For Mrs Lawrence the club combines a few of her interests into one. It's about keeping fit and healthy, enjoying and helping nature where possible and mastering the art of self-talk, she says.
"A lot of people enjoy the challenging aspect of tramping, as in you're setting your own goals and trying to reach them.
"It's just as challenging for someone starting out to do their first tramp as it is for an experienced tramper to scale a new mountain.
"For me, I like getting out into the fresh air, and the best feeling is getting to the top."
The club holds two meetings per month on the second and last Thursdays at the Society of Friends Hall on College St.
There are 65 members, ranging from families to older, more experienced trampers. For information of club trips, check out the club's website pntmc.org.nz.
* If you would like your club, group or organisation to be considered for a profile, email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Join The Club' in the subject line.
- © Fairfax NZ News