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 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

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

Volcanoes 18, 19 and 20: The Auckland volcanoes

20181213_115443So far, #WalkNZ has been a solo journey – but it was always meant to be.

Last week I was asked if I was bored of walking by myself. An interesting question.

I said no – I’ve met many people along the Te Araroa trail and, for the most part, I’ve spent each night with an eclectic group of random fellow trampers.

That said, I have to admit I am a little bit over listening to myself think while I’m walking. Mainly because all I seem to be thinking is how much my feet hurt, how much my shoulders hurt, how boring and monotonous this road walk is, and where I should put my foot so I don’t a) slip over b) twist it or c) fall off the trail/down the hill.

So, it was quite a joy to have one of my best friends join me on the Coast to Coast trail across Auckland, which just so happened to conveniently cross over three dormant volcanoes – part of the 40 plus volcanoes in the Auckland volcanic field – and thereby ticking off volcanoes 18, 19 and 20 in my #40by40 volcano challenge, and reaching the halfway mark. Continue reading

How much training is enough?

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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

Volcanoes number 13 and 14: The train strike volcanoes

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It had been an awesome three days in the Auvergne region in France walking a section of the GR400 route and climbing volcanoes.

In three days we had hoped to climb four volcanic peaks as part of my #40by40 quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 but we’d only been able to tick off three (because of our leisurely pace) – Puy Mary, Puy Chavaroche, and Puy Griou (the latter hadn’t even been on the original list).

I’d been a little bit gutted that we hadn’t been able to make the last two, Puy du Rocher and Plomb du Cantal, but as I was quickly coming to learn with this challenge, it was no easy street and there were bound to be blips and bumps and failings. I just had to be flexible, not give up, and remember that everything would be ok in the end. Continue reading