Boots or Volleys?
I had always worn sandshoes (Dunlop Volleys) for walking, but the thought of New Zealand ice and snow convinced me to buy a pair of boots. I wore them for the first few kilometres of the Inland Pack Track, but when I discovered that was mostly going to involve wading along creek beds, I quickly switched to the volleys. In the end I used the boots only for the third day of the Three Passes (from Park Morpeth to Carrington hut), because of the snow on Whitehorn Pass.
My experience agrees with that of fellow bushwalkers who told me before the trip that volleys were fine anywhere in New Zealand below the snow line. Boots might be marginally better on the smaller scree, but on moving rocks where one has to reposition one's feet regularly, I find the lighter shoes make that much easier. (For the guided glacier walk at Franz Joseph I wore the special boots they provided, which were insanely heavy: I'm sure that's what gave me a sore Achilles tendon for the rest of the trip.)
But boots do have their advantages:
- it was nice to have the boots on the snow at Whitehorn Pass (though that would have been feasible in volleys, at least when we did it)
- it was nice to have dry boots to change into around the campfire or in the huts, and to wear around town
- my friend Carole reckons boots are sexier
Adrienne's boots were at the end of their life, and she tried to throw them out in Greymouth, only to have the staff rescue them from the garbage! (I had the opposite problem - I was always worried about leaving my volleys out to dry, because I thought someone might think they were being thrown out.) And Joe's boots were on their last legs too: he was lucky they didn't fall apart half way across the Copland Pass, where he lost a crampon in an awkward spot.