In 2014 I heard for the first time about the long-distance trails. Not the ones that take a few weeks, but those who take a couple of months to hike in entirety. I was immediately drawn to the idea of completing myself a through-hike, i.e. hiking a long-distance trail end-to-end. The most famous ones are the three big trails in the US (the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Due to the timing of my time-out, I was looking for other trails and chose finally the Te Araroa in New Zealand, selected as one of the World’s Best Hikes by National Geographic.
I have already spent 3 months in New Zealand back in 2001, just before starting University. This will allow me to focus this time on my through-hike, not being afraid to miss out on anything else.
What is the Te Araroa?
The Te Araroa is a 3,000km trail stretching from Cape Reinga in the North of New Zealand to Bluff, in the very south, through beaches, volcanoes, forests, mountains and cities. It is a quite young trail as it was only opened in December 2011. Through-hiking the trail in its entirety takes 4-5months with the North Island covering about 1700km and the South Island 1300km. About 200 rivers have to be crossed by foot and a few days are even spent kayaking the Whanganui River, providing a nice break from walking.
Trail map (Google Earth & Te Araroa kmz file):
Hiking is one of the only kind of holidays I truly enjoy doing on my own. While I can feel lonely visiting cities or other cultural attractions, I like hiking for hours on my own, at my own pace, thinking about everything and nothing. I also find it much easier to connect with fellow hikers, as you already know you have something in common. That’s why I conceived my year-long time-out around different hiking trails. Initially, I planned to do the Te Araroa on my own, but things changed over the last couple of weeks. One of my best friends, Peggy, will be taking a sabbatical and joining me for the South Island part. I couldn’t be happier to share this experience with a good friend. Furthermore, another friend of ours, Coco, will be joining us around Christmas time and we will have 2 awesome weeks in Nelson / Abel Tasman Park and on the Queen Charlotte Track together. This will be the perfect break after the first months of hiking the North Island on my own. What could be better than having a rest and seeing dear friends at the other side of the world?
I have spent weeks if not months preparing for the Te Araroa (in addition to planning the other bits of my year-long time-out): planning, timings, gear, food.
Most of the planning so far was around gear. As light as possible but comfortable enough for spending a couple of months outdoors. Emergency and navigation equipment (and the skills to use it!). I am finally close to final on my gear planning but still waiting further weeks for everything to be shipped to Berlin! I will still have to do a lot of planning on the different sections, maps, trail notes etc closer to my starting date. Watch out for more posts on these topics if you are interested or planning yourself a through-hike. In the meantime, I will be off hiking in the Alps during our European summer. Enjoying the mountains and getting the training to hit the Te Araroa trail running in October (more or less, we will see).
Everytime I read the QA section of the Te Araroa website, I can’t help but laugh at the unicorn story!
My unicorn and I will be landing in Auckland on October 11, starting the trail a couple of days later. My next flight to Buenos Aires is scheduled for March 1, 2017, which should give me enough time for my through-hike. Watch out for trail stories from mid-October!
Read & watch more:
- Te Araroa Official page: http://www.teararoa.org.nz
- Te Araroa Wiki: http://tawiki.org/wiki/Main_Page
- Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/26638669574/
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TeAraroaNewZealandsTrail
- Beautiful timelapse of the trail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvzq-xY-I6o&app=desktop
- Blog by a former TA Hiker with a great overview and nice pictures: http://www.tramplite.com/2014/06/te-araroa-trip-report.html
- Plenty of other Blogs including:
Some pictures from my New Zealand trip in 2001. Still good old camera roll – not adapted for the digital world!