“Hell Walking” and Tramping – How to Hike Abroad

Iceland, hiking, Wandering Justin, Landmannalaugar

When Sarah and I were in Australia, we met a traveler from Ireland. She was single, in her late 20s, active.

She told us about all the trouble she was having getting other lone travelers to hike with her.

Well, she didn’t actually say “hike.” That’s not the Irish vernacular for “stomping around in the dirt in big boots.” For our Irish buddy, that’s known as “hill walkin‘.”

Wandering Justin shows us how to tramp.
But, you pair this with an Irish accent, and you get — “hell walkin’.”

So she was probably scaring everyone away with the threat of walking into Beelzebub’s own nature preserve.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to witness any such mix-ups in New Zealand. There, “hiking”/”hillwalking” is known as — wait for it — tramping! Yes, you and your best friend can spend weeks tramping around New Zealand.

You can make what you will of the phrase Australians use — bushwalking!

“Trekking” is another word that’s common for long-distance hiking. But really, it’s nowhere near as fun as these others.

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By Wandering Justin

Writer. Traveler. Gastronomic daredevil. Fitness fan. Homebrewer. Metal dude \m/. Cat and dog lover.


  1. Hi Justin. Interestingly enough I stumbled on your post thanks to the mention of the word ‘tramping’. It makes it nice n’ easy to program a Google Blog alert for mentions of the NZ outdoors. To be honest the only strange looks I’ve ever had about the word ‘tramping’ have come from Americans. 🙂

    With a few exceptions, it’s nearly always used to describe overnight or longer trips, which are common here. If I wasn’t staying somewhere overnight, I’d usually call it a daywalk, or maybe just a walk depending on the details. I think the word actually has a German origin, although the exact origin seems a bit unclear. We discussed it a while back in a thread over here.

  2. Oh, and since shifting to Australia a month ago I’ve found the terminology here completely new. They use ‘bushwalking’ as you mentioned, but anything longer than a day seems to be a ‘pack carry’. Clubs also really like the term ‘base camp’, which seems to be setting up a camp somewhere and then going out for daywalks before returning to camp.

  3. Thanks for dropping by! I have to say there is no place better for overnight and longer trips than NZ. My wife and I want to come back with our tent and hit the Tongariro area again along with a few others. And you don’t have to worry about all the poisonous/venomous/hungry creatures like in Australia or here in Arizona where we live!

    I’ll have to check out your thread. I’m always up for hearing slang/terminology from other countries.

    And yeah, tramping means something entirely different to us :D! It’s a bit dated, something my grandma would say, but still good for a laugh!

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