Swedish tourist goes tramping in socks and sandals on Mount Taranaki

Back left: Michelle O'Doherty, Sheree Todd, and two Swedish tourists behind Puhi Brown and Teri Coxhead on the Pouakai ...
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Back left: Michelle O'Doherty, Sheree Todd, and two Swedish tourists behind Puhi Brown and Teri Coxhead on the Pouakai Crossing.

A Swedish tourist who wore socks with sandals to tramp on Mount Taranaki not only pushed fashion boundaries – she also tempted fate.

It was pure luck she crossed paths with New Plymouth's Puri Brown and her hiking companions: Sheree Todd, Michelle O'Doherty and Teri Coxhead.  

When she told them her shoes had been stolen in Rotorua, they forgave her bad dress sense and Brown generously gave the young Swede her pair of Nike shoes.

The view from the tarns near Pouakai hut.
Robert Charles/FAIRFAX NZ

The view from the tarns near Pouakai hut.

Department of Conservation Taranaki partnership manager Darryn Ratana says the weather on the mountain can change rapidly and people need to be adequately prepared.

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"Apart from her fashion faux pas, unfortunately it's not that unusual."

Pouakai Crossing.
Robert Charles/FAIRFAX NZ

Pouakai Crossing.

"They may have been fine to wear on a boardwalk but were inappropriate for the track," he said. 

The conditions on the Pouakai Crossing track are variable and you can expect to encounter water or mud especially with the wetland area along the way, Ratana said. 

"Her socks would have been pretty wet by the time she got to the other side."

Pouakai Crossing.
Robert Charles/FAIRFAX NZ

Pouakai Crossing.

Ratana urged anyone considering taking on one of the tracks to call in to the visitor centre for advice on how to equip themselves first, or visit its website.

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Todd and a couple of her mates were hiking savvy and prepared for the backcountry tracks.

"It was a brilliant day, we'd done a forecast check, but still packed jackets, spare shoes, first-aid kit, drinks, and snacks," Todd said.

When the group stopped to chat to the friendly tourist and her Swedish pal by the Veronica's Loop sign they didn't notice the unusual choice of footwear at first.

"When I saw she was in sandals with socks, I told her 'that's inappropriate footwear for the mountain' and said 'where are your shoes?'"

Todd was unsure if her comments caught the unprepared traveller off-guard, but said the tourist was quick to explain.

"She said her shoes had been stolen when they were camping in Rotorua and the sandals she had on were the only footwear she had."

Todd reminded Brown she had a spare pair of shoes in her bag and in a Cinderella moment, they fit the tourist.

"Puri asked her what size feet she had, she replied 40, so Puri pulled out her shoes and then she tried them on and they were good to go."

"Puri was more than happy to give away her shoes.  We knew they would have struggled, it's not pleasant at the best of times even with the appropriate footwear."

"She was just rapt and couldn't believe a random stranger would be so kind."

In hindsight Todd said fashion-wise, "her sandals were alright", but while describing them out loud her good taste got the better of her.

"Na they weren't, they were just like literally straps, like socks with sandals are never good."

Perhaps a sign from above the mountain was the fact the gifted shoes were yellow and blue.  

"We liked the fact that they matched the Swedish national flag."

"They were a good pair of Nikes too."

 - Stuff

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