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During Covid-19 lockdown, like many people, I have been researching new challenges for when restrictions finally ease. I have already walked the length of the UK twice, and 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.

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. However, I’m considering walking it south to north, taking in the rougher South Island first. Starting in the south also means I can start later in the season than you would if walking north to south, probably December 2021/22.

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, ss the Te Araroa Trust continue to negotiate access with private landowners, this should only improve over time.

Surprisingly, Te Araroa is not a continuous path. Sometimes the path is overgrown, re-routed for logging or forestry work, or follows a river. There are also a number of places where the route just stops and you have to find transport to get around an obstacle, often meaning getting a boat or hiking 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, which is a considerable amount of time away from both work and family.

Follow my progress

You can keep up to date on my progress on Te Araroa by subscribing to the blog on the side bar, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

If you can help me in any way please message me. I have done a number of long distance walks before, so I’m not too worried about being self-reliant for 4 to 6 months, but they have all been in the UK. So any help with the best start time and any differences I’ll come across hiking in New Zealand rather than the UK, will be much appreciated.

Relaxing during my Around Norfolk walk

Further reading:

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

My 11 wild camping rules

Te Araroa home page

Te Araroa Trail trip reports:

Karen’s Damn Long Walk 2019

A Stray Life 2019

The Path Less Travelled 2019

TGO Magazine Kat Young 2018

Tramplitegear 2014


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

Wild-camping in Scotland on the Cape Wrath Trail in my Tarptent Notch Li

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10 Replies to “New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail”

  1. 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: Looking forward to following your progress 🙂

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. Hi Karen
      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.
      Best wishes

    1. Hi Matt
      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

  4. Hi Mark,
    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.

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