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
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.
Preliminary Gear List
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
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