I have been researching new challenges, I’ve already walked the length of the UK twice so I started looking at longer routes. One option was the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA, but further research made me worried about the sheer number of people walking this each year. I don’t like crowds.
Eventually I came across Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand, which translates as ‘The Long Pathway’. The more I read about it, the more it sounded like my kind of walk – varied, challenging and remote – like the Scottish National Trail on steroids. The walk takes in beaches, forests, cities, high mountains, really remote wilderness, road walking and numerous river crossings.
I am planning to walk Te Araroa as soon as it’s possible and I will be writing about my experiences on the way. I’ll also review all the gear I take. Update 2023: I am looking for company on this one if anyone is interested?
About Te Araroa Trail
Te Araroa is a 3000km (1,864 miles) route running the length of New Zealand (both islands), from Cape Reinga to Bluff. The route is usually walked north to south, staring around November time. It can also be walked south to north, taking in the rougher South Island first. Starting in the south means you start later in the season, probably December.
It’s a relatively new trail, officially opened in 2011 and still a work in progress. The route has been devised using a series of already established walks joined together, so at present there’s a lot of road walking to link these walks together. About 15% of the walk at the moment is on roads. However, as Te Araroa Trust continue to negotiate access with private landowners, this should only improve over time.
Surprisingly, Te Araroa is not a continuous path. There is a lot of road walking, sometimes the path is overgrown and can be re-routed for logging or forestry work and occasionally uses rivers. There are also a number of places where the route just stops and you have to get around an obstacle, often meaning getting a lift, use a boat or hike around to start the trail again the other side.
There are several considerations when choosing to walk Te Araroa Trail. Obviously being on the other side of the world, I’ll miss the UK winter, and go from summer to summer. Great. But New Zealand is an expensive and time-consuming place to get to. In addition, both the start and finish points of Te Araroa are very remote. New Zealand weather is also very unpredictable; 4 seasons in one day is not just possible, it’s highly likely. But then we are used to that in the UK.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to walking Te Araroa is the time it will take me to complete. Most people complete the full route in 4-6 months. I will allow 6 months, so I can take it easy and make the most of the walk to see as much of New Zealand as possible.
Follow my progress
You can keep up to date on my progress on Te Araroa by subscribing to my blog on the side bar, or follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
If you can help me in any way please message me or donate by Buying me a coffee. I have done a number of long distance walks before, so I’m not worried about being self-reliant for 6 months, but my walks have all been in the UK. So any help with the best start time and any differences or issues I’ll come across hiking in New Zealand rather than the UK, will be much appreciated.
Preliminary Gear List
Dover to Cape Wrath 1100 mile walk
LEJOG and 3 Peaks 1200 mile walk
How I plan a successful long distance walk
Te Araroa imformation:
Information needed to enter New Zealand
Gov.uk New Zealand travel advice
Heaphy Track – recommended additional walk
Te Araroa Trail trip reports:
Te Araroa Trail – Recommended – It’s an interesting book if you’ve not been to New Zealand before. It describes all the separate walks that the Te Araroa follows really well and has good maps. It only has brief descriptions of the road sections. I was happy to pay the high price because all royalties go to the Te Araroa Trail Trust and helps with the cost of improving the trail.
Te Araroa Trail – Trail story
Te Araroa Trail – Trip story
Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself in spare time, and I pay for its running costs myself. I do have some Amazon affiliate links and adverts on the site. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item I’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to us. This money goes towards the costs of hosting the blog. I would be extremely grateful if you could consider using our links when you next need to buy something from our advertisers. Alternatively, you can buy me a coffee here. Thank you so much for your support. Mark.
15 Replies to “New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail”
Ah amazing! We’re planning this for 2022/23 as we’ve got LEJOG planned for 2022, and it’ll give NZ plenty of time to get vaccinated and open their borders. You’ve probably already sifted through several blogs but this guy was a fave: http://teararoa.g2.co.nz/. Looking forward to following your progress 🙂
I haven’t walked the TA, but moved back from NZ 2 years ago and did some walks there. Here are some things I picked up while I lived there.
Uwe Stemmer in YouTube just documented every day on the trail and he reached the bluff a week ago.
DOC Hut pass will pay for itself and gives you options. DOC site has lots of info.
Get all your gear here, as things are more expensive in NZ.
Spark is the biggest mobile operator with free wifi with its SIMs, so it has the best coverage. 2Degrees is cheaper but much worse coverage.
There’s a book that seems to cover TA well. A Walking Guide to New Zealand’s Long Trail
No worry about the the wild life, but sandflies are a nightmare, so bring a head net & cover.
Guthooks has a TA guide.
Thank you for your message, it’s much appreciated and a great help.
I am from NZ and have walked Te Araroa 2019-20. I can send you 2 paper maps that show trail. Nth Island and Sth Island. Much better than digital so you can see the overall trail. Send me address. My blog may be helpful and give you some reading to do.
Thank you for the offer of the maps they would be much appreciated, I’ve e-mailed you my address. I’ve also added a link to your blog from mine, it looks good and I look forward to reading it.
Thankyou very much for the maps, received and much appreciated.
Thank again and best wishes.
How are you funding this? How long will it take?
I’m old and spent my life working too hard and saving, now I’m spending it before it’s too late. Hopefully I’ll last the 4 to 6 months it’ll take to walk it.
Thanks for your message
I walked the TA in 2015/16 (when I was 72 so guess we are of the same era). A great trail although lots more tarmac than you might imagine especially on North Island. We walked SOBO so left SI for the second half. My suggestions would be:-
1. Take a tent – the huts can get very full with TA walkers plus others
2. We used electronic mapping through – iHikeNZ on an iPad – all NZ Linz maps are free to download. A GPX for the full route is available from the TA website.
3. the BIG difference between walking in the UK and NZ are the river crossings. Many are bridged but some are not. The Rangitata and the Rākaia Rivers are both declared as Hazard Zones on the TA. Don’t be tempted on either, I would strongly advise either walking round them by road, or better still arranging transport. Other rivers which must be forded are the Taramakua and the Otaheke Rivers both near Arthurs Pass. Do not be tempted to cross either of these if the water is high or cloudy. They rise fast but equally the fall fast too. Young people seem to take the risk – we waited 24hrs for the Taramakua to drop. I don’t want to sound alarmist but the rivers pose the most hazard – more so if you are by yourself.
4. Kiwis are incredibly friendly – they will invite you to camp on their lawns, take a shower, give you a bed. Just amazing.
5. Trail angles who live along the route and look after sections of it are worth making contact with – one such couple let us camp in their garden and made us a plum pie for supper!!
6. The longest section that you need to carry food for is across the Richmond Range on SI. We supplied for 10 days on that.
7. Sending on drop boxes is a good way to help with resupply – works well with drop locations listed on the TA site. The usually charge a normal 5 or 10 dollars for the service..
8. Take your time and enjoy! If I can help further please email me.
Thanks very much for that Tony, it’s really helpful and much appreciated. Mark
Tony is so right about the river crossing. I SOBO the South Island in 2019. Bring an SOS device as 1 day I got hypothermia walking with a young Kiwi in heavy rain. Got stopped by a river in flash flood. We couldn’t go back as the last stream was also a flash flood. 1.5 after pushing the SOS a chopper rescued us.
I started in early December and never used the tent I carried as the DOC hut were never full. But remember I only walked half of the full TA
Yes, you definitely need a decent tent, especially for the North Island as there are virtually no huts (only in the Tararuas, I believe). We walked SOBO as far as Koitiata when I developed plantur fasciitis and had to get off trail (took aaaaaages to mend – realised later that I walk up steps on my tiptoes – steps out of Whanganui that did it). Best bits were the Tongariro Crossing and the Wanganui River. We are in our sixties. Hiking Rev has some good tips for older hikers. We are flying out in November to start NOBO from Bluff, hoping to get to Koitiata (at the very least). Hope you manage to get on the trail at some point. It’s definitely an experience. I found your blog whilst looking for TA info but I also see that you live on a canal boat….so do we. We’d have a lot to chat about.
Thank you for your message. Yes it would be good to chat. I’ve finally left the River Nene through Northampton and returned to the canals for the winter. I’ve now time for looking at Te Araroa Trail walk again, I’m not yet sure what I can do this winter.
G’day Mark, is NZ still on for you? I am planning to start early October ‘23. I’ve been hiking multi-day walks for year but the longest has been 2 weeks, so the TA will be a big challenge for me. I have enjoyed reading your blogs. Being 50 something myself, they give me inspiration to try it for myself. Cheers!
I’m still not sure about this year as it looks like I’ll have to help my daughter move house again.
Thank you for your message and best of luck with your walk.