New Zealand's closed borders caused tramping injures to spike in 2020

Tramping injuries spiked last year as closed borders forced more Kiwis to explore the outdoors. 

Most accidents were minor - sprained ankles and knees - but it cost an extra $1.3 million in claims.

Brianna Lawrence is a tramper who knows the impact an injury has all too well. 

She's back on her feet two months after spraining her ankle in the Richmond Ranges.

"All my weight and pack weight came down on my left foot, so kind of crushed my ankle up underneath." 

An experienced tramper, she was only 13 days into walking the length of the South Island on the Te Araroa Trail. 

She was rescued by helicopter, after deciding it was too risky to attempt the eight-hour hike out. 

"Being injured in the middle of nowhere was a little bit daunting, we had plenty of food and were close to a hut which was fortunate."

With the border closed, she's one of many New Zealanders hitting the tracks.

"Kiwis are definitely going out because the numbers at most places around New Zealand haven't dropped - that's even without a million or so international visitors," says Mike Daisley from the Mountain Safety Council.

And that's led to an increase in injuries.

In 2020 tramping injury claims soared by more than 600 cases to a record 6120. It's a $1.3 million hike in cost compared to 2019 - totalling more than $5.5 million.

Figures from ACC show the top 10 tramping injuries last year were all sprains - and the most common types were knees, legs and ankles.

Daisley says that the 'she'll be right' attitude could be to blame.

"Kiwis have always had a higher propensity for incidents, so Kiwis maybe think they're explorers and it's in our DNA so maybe are a bit flippant in preparing and lining up tracks."

Something the Department of Conservation (DoC) has also noticed.

"A lot of people perhaps walking further or doing a harder walk than they might've done before... but there definitely hasn't been an increase in really bad accidents," says Don Bogie from DoC. 

He hopes there never is.

"We always have concerns that people are well prepared and know what they're doing."

Despite her injury, Lawrence has plans to step back onto the Te Araroa trail and finish what she started.