Day 126 of #WalkNZ: Injury in the Nelson Lakes

20190307_080159It’s funny how long-distance walking undulates mentally as much as the mountains and hills that I hike along the Te Araroa trail.

Last week, I was ecstatic that I’d completed eight days in New Zealand wilderness in the demanding Richmond Ranges in the South Island.

This week, I have a dark cloud hanging over me after having to turn back and bail from the Nelson Lakes after poor weather and injury struck. Continue reading

The South Island of #WalkNZ begins: Introducing the Richmond Ranges

20190301_122929I’m alive!

I can’t quite believe it but I survived eight days in the remote New Zealand wilderness walking up and down a lot of steep, tall mountains through the Richmond Ranges.

This was classed as scary shit – the Richmond Ranges are dubbed the toughest section in the South Island on the Te Araroa trail.

Naturally, I was totally freaking out about them. Continue reading

Reflections on the North Island section of the Te Araroa Trail

20190213_130810-1Almost four months ago, I stood at the northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand.

The new pack on my back weighed just over 17kg. I carried five days worth of food and two litres of water; though anyone looking at me would have thought I was carrying the kitchen sink.

I stared at the point where the two oceans (the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean) met. Waves churned. According to Maori legend, the whirlpools where the currents collide represents the creation of life.

I thought that was apt.

Here I was about to start a 3,000km journey walking the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand. Anything could happen; people told me it would be life changing.

Last week, part one of the #WalkNZ journey was completed – I reached the bottom of the North Island. 101 days. 1,688km walked. Continue reading

Days 90-92 of #WalkNZ: The Tararua mountain range

20190203_085651I stood and stared at the squelchy pool of brown mud in front of me, a mixed look of disbelief and annoyance probably etched across my face.

“Really! I mean really,” I said out loud, to no one in particular. “Not more mud,” I moaned. #WalkNZ was quickly becoming #WalkMuddyNZ.

Here I was on the Tararua mountain range section of the 3,000km Te Araroa hiking trail down the length of New Zealand and yet again I was looking at a vast heap of wet, boot and soul-destroying mud.

“I’m in the fricken mountains,” I thought. “There’s not supposed to be any mud.”

I guessed this was another memo about the trail I had missed. Continue reading

Reaching the halfway point of #WalkNZ

20190201_091943It took me 89 days to walk 1,500km and reach the halfway point on the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

The spot itself wasn’t physically marked on the trail, but according to the GPS trail app it was at a quaint little point next to the pleasant Tokomaru River along Burtons Track in the Tararua mountain range. Continue reading

Days 77-82 of #WalkNZ – the canoe journey down the Whanganui River

20190120_161012Whoever said paddling down the Whanganui River for six days was going to be easy was lying.

Either that or I missed the memo about what this New Zealand Great Walk canoeing journey from Whakahoro to Whanganui was really supposed to be like.

And for someone who is not only a novice but who has a slight fear about canoeing and kayaking, and who had to do a course prior to starting the 3,000 Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand, this fact is not exactly a minor detail. Continue reading

Day 72 of #WalkNZ: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing – a day of ups and downs

20190115_085123I had originally planned to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, part of the Te Araroa trail, on Monday.

But, you know how luck happens sometimes – the Mangatepopo campsite was full on Monday so Tuesday it had to be.

Which is how I found myself walking up the side of a rather tall volcano in pissing rain, while the crazy wind squalled around me. Continue reading

Volcano number 22: The Timber Trail Volcano

20190105_133933After the #WalkNZ rigours of the Mangaokewa River Track and a tough 38km one-day road walk, it was time for a decent trail – surely.

So thank you Te Araroa for delivering me the Timber Trail, an 80ish kilometre cycle track between Te Kuiti and Taumarunui.

Described as a highlight of Te Araroa, this is a beautiful, wide, flat, well maintained track (everything the Americans are looking for in a hiking trail).

The inclines aren’t too onerous, there is no mud, no tree roots to navigate, no overgrown foliage to whip at the face or legs. It presents blissful, mindless walking through native New Zealand forest.

The only thing you have to look out for are the cyclists that zoom past.

I decided to take the track easy and enjoy the stroll – four days of walking, while many TA hikers power through in two days.

Plus I could add in another volcano in my #40by40 challenge. Continue reading

Day 60 of #WalkNZ – WTF was the Mangaokewa River Track?

20190103_114953Day 60 of #WalkNZ didn’t start well – and it didn’t get any better.
What with a terrible night’s sleep and then being shadowed for a kilometre by a greasy-haired, gap-toothed cyclist out of Te Kuiti, I guess it didn’t bode well for what was to come – the Mangaokewa River Track; a 15km riverside walk that takes the Te Araroa hiker out of Te Kuiti and into the back country farmland of New Zealand.
I hadn’t heard any rumours about this track so what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading