At the beginning of this month I cracked a big goal, to hike the

in Fiordland. In the process a hard but very valuable lesson about simplifying was learnt.

When you go on holiday, are you likely to add a couple of extra items 'just in case' you need them? With all the travel I do, I've been fighting against that tendency for years, but this hike showed me I've still got a way to go!

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I was a good Girl Guide in my teen years with their mantra of 'be prepared', a country upbringing taught me to think ahead to what might be needed when you get out the back of the farm, and then raising six kids also rammed home the principle of 'take it just in case'.

However, when it came to packing a backpack for a 3 day Fiordland hike, several good friends as well as my very experienced hiking son Graham, one of the local cops at our starting point of Tuatapere, warned me to be minimal with the packing.

Although our hiking group of 11 had chosen the helicopter option to get the packs up the mountain (880 metres above sea-level and an 18km hike), we still had to carry them 20 km back down the mountain on Day 2 and a further 20 km on Day 3 back to the starting point. And anything we took in was our responsibility to take out - no leaving things at the huts.

The only rubbish bins were for bottles and pig food.

• How much food do you really need for 3 days - I packed enough for 2 weeks! Just one example: I'd planned for an apple for each day and at the final pack added another 3 - just in case. Apples are heavy!

• If I'd read the labels on the freeze-dried food packs I'd have seen that they included vegetables. I didn't need separate packs of vegetables and potatoes as well. (I could have even bought my evening meals at the well-stocked huts.)

• The can of water-proofing in case my coat wasn't sufficiently water-proof - really? (And we were lucky with beautiful weather - not complaining, but further salt in the wound.)

• The extra belt?
• The sponge bag grabbed automatically at the last minute. Not for a minute did I have any intention of using foundation, powder or eye-liner. I've done enough hiking to know that makeup wouldn't last past the first sweat-inducing steep climb.

• The night before we'd had a cold snap so I borrowed daughter-in-law Tanya's thicker fleecy - but didn't think to take out my lighter one. Ditto to two warmer long-sleeved woollen skivvies.

• And I'm not going to embarrass myself by mentioning a few other items!

Okay, that's enough of my soul-baring embarrassment. What about you?

What's in your cupboards - just in case? (But you've never used it.) Your garage? Your wardrobe? Your office?

You might like to share my new and improved mantra now - Less Is Best!