Hello everyone,

What tool/s are best suited for the New Zealand bush?

For example, people recommend an axe and knife in places like the canadian woods, the machete in the rainforest/jungle, the saw for just about anywhere...

Sorry if my constant posts are getting annoying! :)

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Hi Jelena. I am working on rehashing my old skills and learning to go leaner and more efficient in my kit, but I can share what I have learned in the past. We used to carry 4 basic tools when we were in the Malaysian jungle with the NZ Army. A Khukuri or a machete (NZ/British Army Golok) chopper, a small folding saw, a personal knife and Secateurs (gardening pruning shears).

NZ bush and the jungle can be similar with rain fall and the close, hard to get through undergrowth. The tools we used therefore have similar uses in the NZ bush.

Khukuris or a small machete (the NZ Army Golok was an excellent machete) were great for chopping down small trees or shaping cut trees/branches to make frames and shelters. They are shorter and easier to swing in close bush than longer machetes. The army was tactical of course so the sound of chopping was not useful if we were trying to do the sneakies in the bad guys area. Swinging around a chopper can also take a lot of effort and sweat. Modern machetes are light weight so lighter to carry. The older style (including the khukuri) tend to  be heavier but the khukuri and golok shape and weight make for good deep cuts in wood with less strength and energy expended. The goloks are often found at Kiwi Disposals and I think Svord makes one.  I bought my khukuri on line/over the phone for about $145 from Khukuri Imports in Tauranga. A great knife but I the shipping and packing costs added a lot to the price.

Small folding saws are light, easy to pack and usually cheaper than the machetes. You can take your time and use less energy when cutting and still complete the job. Also less likely to have a nasty finger shortening accident when fatigued and making camp than with a chopper.

Secatuers are excellent for cutting a campsite or a path through the bush and leaving the least impact on the foliage. You tend to cut only what you need to cut and find you can slip through a lot of the foliage you would have chopped if you had a machete. Some secatuers have a ratchet system which allows you to progressively cut through some plants about 1 and 1/2 inches thick. Secatuers are quiet to use, light and easy to pack. Check a good gardening supply store. 

There are bucket loads of quality knives out there. The personal knife I have settled on is the Bear Grylls/Gerber Ultimate Survival Knife. This knife is touted to be able to do its cutting job and be pounded through wood, has a fire starter, emergency whistle and sharpening stone all in one package. I have not put it to the test yet but have researched it and I think it will do well. My personal preference for shopping in one place is www.blademaster.co.nz. I think their range is awesome and their prices hard to beat.

If I was just starting out I would begin with (related to this discussion) a personal knife and small folding saw. They may not be the best at every job but with time and skill (from practice) should do most of the jobs that the whole 4 can do. The Mora range of knives sound very good and well priced and I have seen a lot of favorable reports on them. Again check out Blade Master. Small folding saws can be researched at gardening stores and the internet. Once an understanding of what qualities and prices are available then army surplus stores, second hand stores and gardening stores can be checked for good deals. The items do not have to be expensive as the kit can be built up over time and better quality added as needed.

I hope some of this information is useful to you Jelena. Dave

Thanks guys for your really informative and detailed replies!

I don't bushcraft in a very bushy sort of area, it's more of a forest, made up of ferns, kauri and rimu. Would a hatchet suffice here?. Because I think a hatchet would come in handy with cutting and splitting firewood. A machete would probably work fine as well, but I think I'd be more comfortable using an axe, or hatchet. 

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