In early 2017 I had the privilege of travelling to New Zealand and going on one of their famous "Great Walks." For those of you don't know what a Great Walk is, it's just a massive multi-day hike that has huts, campgrounds, toilets, etc along the way. There are 9 in New Zealand and it's the best way to get a feel for the gorgeous landscape of the country (if you're into that sort of thing - driving around works just fine too).
I'm from New Hampshire and no stranger to arduous day hikes, so I thought a 5-day trek with amenities such a toilets and huts would make it a cake walk. Boy, I was wrong.
It turns out that hiking with 5 days worth of gear is A LOT different than hiking with a day pack. Look at the size of those packs! I had no idea at the time, but marching yourself up and down a mountain with that on your back is hard work. It's more than just being able to lift and waltz around your living room with it on.
We hiked the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, which is a lovely, scenic route along the beaches and coastal mountains on the north side of the southern island. The views made the incredible up and down steep trek worth it.
I think underestimating how heavy our packs would feel (especially on day 1) were our biggest first-timer mistakes. Thankfully, the more we ate our way through the weight of our packs, the lighter they got on the trip. Plus, we were getting stronger without realizing it. By the time we got off the track we had actually built up a decent little core muscle group! Talk about a perk.
Another mistake I definitely made was packing too many clothes. By day 3 of the trip I realized I kept returning to a few staple items: rotating 1 out of 2 workout t-shirts and my hiking shorts. The pants I'd brought along for extra cover or in case of cooler weather remaining useless (and heavy) in my bag. Sleeping clothes was another clothing item I had properly considered. I didn't bring a comfortable top so I ended up sleeping in 1 of my day shirts and feeling real smelly by the end of the trip. The top I'd intended to sleep in was rendered useless stuffed into the bottom of my pack. Lesson learned: make sure your clothes are comfy before you start the trip. Had I been a smarter packer, I would have been able to fit some more fresh food into my bag instead of relying mostly on dehydrated meals and snacks.
One last thing: make sure you research what sorts of bugs you may encounter on the trail. The bain of our existence was when sandflies came out in the evenings and prevented us from enjoying the fire at the huts. We were eaten alive as our regular bugspray didn't seem to deter them.
Despite the difficulties of our trek (like getting stuck in some pouring rain on our way back and getting absolutely soaked through) nature had a way of reminding us that our struggles were all worth it. The feeling of accomplishment at the end of the trip was more rewarding than any adverse conditions we faced. I'd highly recommend the Abel Tasman Coastal Track to anyone of any hiking experience level!