Days 38-43 of #WalkNZ part 2 – The Deception Track and the boyfriend’s rude introduction to Te Araroa

“So, what did you make of your first six days on the Te Araroa Trail?” I asked my boyfriend, who had newly flown in from the UK and was still suffering the after effects of jetlag. 

“Well, it’s not so much a trail, rather a route,” he mused.

“The terrain is much wilder than I anticipated and the landscapes are vast. It feels like there’s a sense of being the first people to walk here because the path is non-existent, the route marking is quite frankly at times invisible. It doesn’t feel like you’re on a well-defined trail that thousands of people have walked. This feels more remote. There is an enormous sense of space.”

He added: “Walking uphill and down hill isn’t the most demanding bit. It’s the bit where you have to plan ahead for the river crossings because of the weather, and even some of the shallower river crossings can still be dangerous. The road walking, with its hard surface, is draining and monotonous – it’s more a mental challenge than a physical challenge. On occasion you have to do a long day to move ahead of a weather system or to find water. Progress can be slow like when you’re boulder hopping, it requires a lot of balance, concentration and endurance. But I’m loving it. Except for those flippin sandflies.”

He scratched the hundreds of red spots dotting his calves where the blood-thirsty critters had taken a liking to him.

Yes it had been something of a rude introduction to the Te Araroa Trail.

Within a six-day time frame we’d condensed the main aspects of what the trail was all about – uphill, down hill, mountains, forests, the good, the bad and the ugly. Continue reading

Day 8 – 15 of #WalkNZ part 2 – The Richmond Ranges

20200116_105034I can confirm that:

Deep Heat does not deter sandflies; mice seem to have the magic skills of getting into a closed backpack to eat my peanuts; I have a selective memory of how hard the uphills are in the Richmond Ranges; five days warm up walking the Queen Charlotte Track is not sufficient for taking on “proper” mountains; a trail outlined on a topo map does not mean it is a trail that has been used recently; I love ridgeline tracks.

I know I already walked the Richmond Ranges last season – the most demanding section of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand due to its 8-10 days between civilisation points and ridiculously high mountains and exceptionally steep and exposed descents – so technically I didn’t really need to walk it again.

But the first four days from Pelorus Bridge were so lovely last year that I really wanted to experience it all over again. Continue reading

Day 1-5 of #WalkNZ part 2 – Queen Charlotte Track

20200107_095640It was cold. It was grey. Where the hell was summer?

I shivered as I did some stretches before the official start of #WalkNZ part 2 began.

Here I was at the top of the South Island of New Zealand, and less than a year since I was last here ready to walk the Queen Charlotte Track through the Marlborough Sounds along the Te Araroa trail.

Back then it was the middle of February. That part of the country had been gripped by a six-week drought and a huge forest fire raged in a mountain range close by. Continue reading

Part 2 of #WalkNZ begins

And so, part 2 of #WalkNZ is about to begin.

I have just 1,000km left to walk to complete the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

After having to pull out 20km short of the 2,000km mark in March this year due to a knee injury, there was no question about not coming back to finish the trail.

It was unfinished business. It called to me. It was something I had to do. There was no way I was going to give up now after coming this far. Continue reading

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