Maybe you will never be entirely ready for such a big hike. There is always more you could do. But 2 days before my departure I finally managed to go at least through most of my to do list (a big Excel file started at least half a year ago) and if not in my head, the plan is printed or on my Kindle / smartphone.
Here is my list of last preparations and helpful documents. Maybe it helps someone also getting started:
Te Araroa Trail Notes and Maps
I have printed on A4 double sided all trail maps, sending ahead in my bounce box the sections that I won’t need (plus my friend Peggy bringing the South Island notes when she arrives mid-December to do the second part with me!). The Trail Notes take up a lot of pages so I have copied and pasted them into a word document, rearranging it slightly per my needs and easier navigation within the notes. I have also added a few recommendations on the trail, low carbon YHAs, side trips, sunrise/sunset times, …. The official notes and maps are at http://www.teararoa.org.nz/downloads/. You are welcome to download and use my trail notes. The word versions can even further adapt to your needs. I printed them 2 pages per sheet and double sided so that the North Island for example is only 9 sheets of paper (for 34 word pages). Both the notes and the maps are also on my smartphone and Kindle.
- PDF North Island: ta_trail-notes-sept-2016-ni_bettina
- Word NI: ta_trail-notes-sept-2016-ni_bettina
- PDF South Island: ta_trail-notes-sept-2016-si_bettina
- Word SI: ta_trail-notes-sept-2016-si_bettina
- Overview on the km for each section are gathered in this Excel file: ta-hike-plan
Don’t miss the awesome North Island overview map created by Anthony Page (visit his blog http://www.longtrails.org), also hiking this year: https://www.flickr.com/photos/workingnomad/sets/72157670624633994/
Make sure to check the trail status before you leave and while on the track: http://www.teararoa.org.nz/trailstatus/
YHA Membership and Low Carbon Traveller application
There have been discussions if it is worth the money and hazzle as there are only few YHA left offering the discount – but I have decided to go with it. The membership also offers free wifi for example. Apply first for the YHA Membership at http://www.yha.co.nz/membership/ and then send a simple email to the YHA stating that you are intending to walk the entire trail by your own means, start and finishing date, gear list and possibly link to your blog. The approval letter arrived very fast by email, not even in two days. http://www.yha.co.nz/membership/special-offers/low-carbon-traveller/ Please note that the discount is only valid at some YHAs (listed on their website and also in my above mentioned Trail Notes) ookings must be made directly with the hostel and the discount must be claimed at time of stay
Obviously a lot of time was spent planning, researching, buying, compiling my gear. Read about the current set up in this blog post: https://hello-mountains.com/2016/10/03/gear-for-my-3000km-trail/
Some DIY (high-visibility backpack, pot cozy, DIY Kindle case) at https://hello-mountains.com/2016/10/04/some-diy-for-the-te-araroa/
The TA Wiki page lists a number of useful apps for the hike: http://tawiki.org/wiki/Useful_apps_for_the_trail
- Navigation: I have downloaded a few navigation apps and tested them, I will use Outdooractive (the one I am already using for a couple of years now, I simply uploaded the GPX. If you also use Outdooractive you can use this one: http://out.ac/YxwbV). As a backup I have downloaded the BackCountry navigator app, as this was one of the recommendations in the Facebook group. Other recommended apps are: Gaia GPS, IhikeNZ, Osmand. Its very important to make sure you have downloaded the maps for offline use (often paid service), as otherwise you might only see a blue dot on a grey field (as maps are only shown if your are connected to the internet if you don’t have them downloaded on your phone/in your app).
- Weather: MetService http://www.metservice.com/national/home
- Tides: New Zealand Tide Times https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.txtvault.android.tidetimesnz1
Donation to Te Araroa
The Te Araroa trust is providing us with all information needed for the trail, updated maps and trail notes every year, trail management, … Given the amount of dollars that everyone spends on flights, gear, food, etc I think that everyone should be able to also make a donation for all the work on the actual trail. Without the trust only a few of us would actually be able to do the trail!
In Auckland (or Kaitaia) prior to trail start
- Buy food and gas canister
- Leave bounce box in hostel as I will be back in Auckland
- Buy backcountry hut pass at YHA, DOC or iSite
- Buy a SIM Card (Spark – as I also want to use the free wifi). Shop on Queen Street in Auckland.
- Retrieve YHA membership card at my hostel
All there is left to do is take the bus from Auckland to Kaitaia (already booked for the 13th of October) and do my first every hitchhike on my own from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga. So excited (nervous?) !