I will never complain about mosquitoes again!
It was my fourth day in New Zealand and I had just made it through Arthur’s pass and to the west coast. I had completed numerous hikes that day totalling 24km. I was completely satisfied as I rolled into my campsite next to the ocean. I slid off my hiking boots, freed my toes from their smart wool socks and popped on my flip flops as I proceeded to make supper.
It wasn’t until a few hours later, snug in my sleeping bag that I awoke to the most god awful combination of pain and itching on my feet and ankles. The sensation wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t sleep! The more I scratched the worse it got! It was then it occurred to me that the “fruit fly” like critters I saw at dinner were nothing of the sort! They were New Zealand’s infamous sand fly, and I was their willing victim. I don’t know about you but when I heard about the flies and their propensity to drive insanity I was thinking, large, loud and gnarly horse fly like critters. In fact the sandfly is barely 2mm in size, makes no audible sound at all and when they land your hardly notice! The worst of course is the days of agony following an attack. Like mosquitoes, only the females bite and they are feasting on your blood. Unlike mosquitoes the bites are awfully irritating!
Today, 3 weeks later I have returned to the west coast, a more northern and remote location of Karamea. Undoubtably with more sandflies! This time I am prepared with a stockpile of both repellant and treatment solutions.
The Trusted: DEET. Here they sell it in 99% formulations, while that seems a little much I do know my 30% is not cutting it without frequent reapplications! Especially while sweating on the trail. I am rather hesitant to try anything higher in percentage on my limited exposed areas (face, hands, neck).
The Safest: Goodbye Sandfly is a product originally developed in New Zealand and contains only natural ingredients. It feels delightful on your skin and has a pleasant smell. I have been using this on my face, hands and neck for the most part and have had great success.
The Alternative: The main ingredient in Off sold here in New Zealand is Picaridin. Picaridin is an alternative to DEET that is reportedly safer to use. I have had good luck with reapplied regularly, especially when in the water or exercising.
The Cheapest – This one is something I learnt from a local in Hanmer Springs. You mix Detol with baby oil, 50/50, and lather it on your skin. Safety wise you can use your own judgement: you are lathering yourself with industrial strength cleaner! The baby oil is a nice addition and it seems to work. Great for your feet when you just have to take your shoes off!
Be sure to read the safety information on the afore mentioned products and make an informed decision. These are simply just my observations!