All the way South – Te Araroa

Its been a while since I went on a big adventures, even micro adventures have been minimal this year. However for the past 12 months, while studying my MSc in Environmental Engineering, I have been plotting. I wanted an adventure with a clearly defined end point, a challenge which would take me through incredible landscapes and challenge skills that I usually shy away from. Most of my previous adventures have been planned and organised either by or in conjunction with someone else – and I usually took the back seat and the achievement is mostly theirs, so I wanted a solo trip where I must organise myself.

After reading Cheryl Strayed’s book ‘Wild’ I thought that a long distance hike might be fun, however finishing university in September didn’t match up with the required start time for the PCT or CDT in America. A friend mentioned that there was a similar trail in NZ. After a quick google the Te Araroa trail sounded perfect:

A hike of 3000 km from New Zealands most northerly point – Cape Rienga, to its most southerly point – Bluff. Five months of hiking along beaches, through jungle, across rivers and over mountains, in a country I have always wanted to visit. No bears or wolves to eat me and a superbly helpful website with easily accessible trail notes and maps. 

It was almost a no brainer. I started telling people I was thinking of doing the trail, the more people who new I was going the harder it would be to back out. On the 16th of October I will fly to Auckland,after making my way to Cape Rienga I will officially become a ‘Tramper’ and wander my way South. Relying on my two feet, an occasional hitch hike and a few boat rides I hope to arrive in Bluff sometime in March.

I predict the largest challenge for me will be the organisation. On some stretches there are 10 days between shops to replenish my food. Many trampers on the Te Araroa and other through hikes use ‘bounce boxes’, sending on a box of food, spare equipment and maps to hostels and lodges in locations where re-supply is difficult. While camping, living as a dirtbag and playing in the mountains is familiar to me, being organised to this level is not. I feel it would be easier for me to put up with carrying a larger load of food and equipment to negate the use of a bounce box, perhaps this is avoiding my weaknesses. I’ve tried to keep my kit pretty light, but am certainly not going to be included with the ultralight gang.

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