The dark, and sometimes very cold, nighttime doesn’t immediately present itself as the perfect time to go for a hike, particularly when the warmth and snuggliness of your bed is calling, but I’ve thrown together just a few reasons why night hikes rock. I feel as though this picture, taken on a Mount Roy hike by my good friend and keen hiker Karl, says more than my words ever can about why night hikes are the best, but I’m going to ramble on for a bit anyway.
The night sky
You’ve only got to look at the amazing Aurora Australis, a sight which few of us are lucky enough to have witnessed in such glory as this, to see the potential benefits of a nighttime mountain jolly.
I can’t speak for every country, but here in New Zealand we’re lucky to have minimal light pollution and therefore some of the clearest skies, which makes for fantastically clear views of the stars and milky way at night. We’re also far enough south to occasionally have the opportunity to see these Southern Lights illuminate the sky.
Daytime views are great, but the night sky is a whole other ball game.
Peace and quiet
The silence of being high up on a mountain or a trail, miles and miles away from the nearest car, building or person is magical. It’s a different kind of silence, which makes you realise you didn’t actually know the definition of silence in the first place.
One of my pet peeves is poncy traveler talk so forgive me for this, but you genuinely feel like you’re totally in touch with nature and the world around you. Depending on where you are, glow worms light up and show themselves, mammals that hibernate or shy away in the day time are out doing their thing and if you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of a rare or endangered animal, like the Kiwi bird in New Zealand.
I love the feeling that it’s just you and nature and nothing else for ages.
Night hiking is a great way to get people together. As it can be quiet a rare occurrence, when someone plans a night hike lots of people tend to want to go along. I’ve met some awesome people through friends on night hikes and one of the best bits is the long walk back down after the sun has risen, chatting to new people and sharing interesting stories.
Plus, there’s nothing better than the group huddle and the flask of tea or hot chocolate at the top.
Difficulty level=not as hard
When I conquered Wanaka’s Mount Roy at night, I was so thankful that a) I hadn’t had to do it with the added heat of the sun and b) I couldn’t see the difficult climbs ahead. If the hike you’re doing is a tricky one, like good old Roy, the cool night time air and the dark can be a bit of a blessing.
The buzz the next morning
The feeling you get when you’re headed back down early in the morning, passing people who are just starting the trek, is amazing. You feel accomplished, energised and pretty ready to take on the day. And there’s no guilt in having an afternoon nap in front of the TV with some chocolate and a cuppa, cos you were up all night doing hardcore hiking.