“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
I’m currently sitting in a warm and cosy backpackers in the tiny alpine village of Arthur’s Pass.
Outside the wind is howling, angrily shaking trees and threatening to tear the roof off the backpackers while thick sheets of rain move down the road in waves.
Some 75mm of rain is forecast here today with wind gusts up to 100km per hour.
Further south and to the west, almost 500mm of rain has fallen, there are landslips, roads have been closed, rivers totally flooded, walkers evacuated from other trails. Continue reading
I 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
Three weeks ago, I had to turn around and walk back into civilisation when poor weather conditions and a dodgy leg forced my hand and I couldn’t make it over the second highest point on the Te Araroa trail.
I ended up in Hanmer Springs, a spa resort town in the South Island of New Zealand, for a week, eating a lot of food (notably the spectacular cinnamon swirl buns from the local bakery) and visiting two local physios a total of three times about my bung leg.
The intention was always to get back on the trail.
But when a week rolled around and the leg was no better, it was clear I needed more time off. As it was, I couldn’t see how I could walk for eight to ten hours everyday on it on the trail when after a mere 15 minutes of strolling I was in pain and hobbling (and that was without the beast of my backpack on).
It posed something of a dilemma. Continue reading
You’re doing what? Yip, here’s everything you need to know about #WalkNZ – the answers to the most frequently asked questions about my epic walk down the length of New Zealand. Continue reading
3,000km. Five to six months. Mountains, forests, knee-high mud, wet river crossings, kayaking, road walking. The legendary Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand. How much training is enough?
I put my hands up – I think I’m not doing enough. At least when I was walking up Box Hill last weekend with a 9.5kg backpack on my back it certainly felt like I hadn’t been doing enough.
Annoying, when back in March I’d put together a comprehensive four-month training programme for this adventure. But life gets in the way. I haven’t stuck to it. Actually, I haven’t even come close. Continue reading