Craig ‘Fletch’ Fletcher isn’t your usual hiker.
Instead of a water bottle and map, his backpack contains disco lights and speakers – because when he gets to the top, he needs to dance.
Fletch is Christchurch’s resident Rave Hiking facilitator. It’s not “an actual thing”, he explains, but his Instagram account, @ravehiking, catalogues his hikes in Christchurch’s Port Hills, at Waimairi Beach, and across Arthur’s Pass into the West Coast, complete with a light stand, disco balls and two UE Boom speakers.
“I just wanted to combine the things which bring me joy – hiking, raving and making videos – and connect with others.”
His stories feature wild dancing, limbs askew, below Te Tiritiri o te Moana as two elderly hikers slip past.
So what’s the why?
“I’ve been trying to figure that out,” Fletch says. “I like the ridiculousness of it all. That’s what brings me joy, when I’m out hiking carrying these massive lights and my pack, that I’m doing something completely weird and unique.
“The time that we are in right now, it’s tough. We need to connect to our own pockets of weird – things that make us happy. If you can radiate that out into the world, you’re doing something good.”
Fletch has been dancing his whole life and, before Covid-19 hit, he travelled the world following the festival trail.
“I’m the person at the back of the festival that needs a lot of space, I need to release my limbs.”
On a recent family hiking trip, both his mums featured in Instagram videos from Arthur’s Pass to Punakaiki.
“My mums brought me up hiking. They’re both big-time nature fiends and environmentalists, and I got my passion from them. Now that we’re not free to travel around the world, what better time to do all these hikes and see our endless supply of natural beauty in Aotearoa, especially in the South Island.
“My mums love it, they’re just used to going along with my weird ideas.”
The North New Brighton resident is up the Port Hills at least a few times each week and, although he has no plans for his kaupapa, connection is central to his rave hiking.
“I have no idea where it’s going to go and that’s not the point anyway. I love it, and I’ll do it regardless of whether it goes anywhere or anyone joins me.
“However, I have been contacted by people who are keen to rave. One chick is down from Wellington for the weekend, and she reached out to see if I’d be raving on Saturday. People are reaching out to link up and that’s what it’s all about,” he says.
“This is an invitation for anyone that wants to join in hiking and dancing.”