The Te Araroa logistics asked for a lot more time than we anticipated, so in July and August we’ve been working our asses off to get everything together. During the past weeks we’ve mostly been focusing on 4 critical topics: resupplying, navigation, insurances and how to organise the loads of information that can be found on the internet. Some sources we’ve found to be very useful are the Te Araroa group on Facebook, Te Araroa’s own website, the TA Wiki and a collection of bloggers who have completed the hike.
After reading the Walking Guide to Te Araroa, we figured that resupplying on the north island might be quite straightforward while it poses more challenges in the south. Villages are further apart and because of the remoteness of the trail not always easily reached. We will have to carry larger supplies in the south, and supplies up to approximately two weeks if we want to avoid hitching into the nearest settlement equipped with a supermarket.
To get an idea of how much we will need to carry and where the most critical points are, we found this overview made by through-tramper Charlie Barran extremely useful:
For the south island we will be carrying extra supplies in case we get delayed. Progress there seems to be very dependent upon weather conditions so if we need to wait some bad weather out in a hut, we will be prepared to do so.
In these conditions frozen-dried bags of hiking food will come in handy. Since they are mostly available in outdoor shops, and not every small town is equipped with one, we will be sending ourselves supplies ahead. Amongst others the Coleridge Lodge offers to store supplies free of charge for through-trampers.
The NZ Post has a bounce box system known as Poste Restante, where post offices can hold packages for up to three months. Unfortunately, none of the Poste Restante locations are on the first half of the south island where resupplying will be at its most difficult so the system cannot be used to send food. We are planning to use it for the following items:
- Clothes. The north and south islands host very different climatic conditions and hence we need different equipment on both islands. The list include a sturdier hiking pants, an extra fleece, extra socks, gaiters (mostly for the cutting grass), a beanie and a scarf
- A small computer. Will be used to update our blog when we have access to our package, to store pictures, to contact home and for general use when we are done with the hike and will travel across the country. Internet cafes in New Zealand are said to be expensive so this will come in handy.
- Travel guide
This fellow tramper has set up a useful map and list with Post Restante points on trail:
24 Wellesley Street
|1010||09 379 6714||09 377 4622|
|Hamilton||563 Angelsea Street||3204||07 838 2708||07 838 1842|
|Invercargill||51 Don Street||9810||03 214 7702||03 214 4140|
|Kaitaia||104 Commerce Street||0410||09 408 6159||09 408 3101|
|Kerikeri||6 Hobson Avenue||0230||09 407 9721||09 407 9722|
|Levin||228 Oxford Street||5510||06 367 8159||06 368 9405|
|Paihia||2 Williams Road||0200||09 402 8623||09 402 7803|
|Palmerston North||328 Church Street||4410||06 353 6195||06 355 4167|
|Picton||72 High Street||7220||03 520 3021||03 573 6137|
|Queenstown||13 Camp Street||9300||03 442 4972||03 442 7976|
|Taumaruui||47 – 49 Miriama Street||3920||07 895 8146||07 895 8147|
|Whanganui||115 Victoria Aveue||4500||06 345 0348||06 347 8009|
|Wellington||2 Manners Street||6011||04 801 2422||04 801 2428|
For resupplying on the most remote and mountaneous stretches, we will be using a Food Drop. A Food Drop can be sent to several lodges and hostels along the track. It is good to contact the place you want to send it to in advance so they expect it in the mail. When sending food drops, write your name and expected arrival date on an obvious place on the box.
- Havelock: There is a Four Square in Havelock, but due to the long supply time on the Pelorus River and Richmond Alpine Tracks (9+ days) it can be useful to send lightweight hiking food and more varied food. The supermarket in havelock is small. Blue Moon Lodge accepts packages for people staying there.
c/o Bluemoon Lodge
48 Main Rd Havelock
- St Arnaud: is very remote, and catching a ride back after resupplying in Nelson or Blenheim is very difficult. Travers Sabine Lodge accepts packages from people planning to stay there
c/o Travers-Sabine Lodge
P.O. Box 15
St. Arnaud, 7053
The Alpine Lodge also accepts packages for guests. Contact them directly for the address.
- Boyle Village: The “village” is not much more than a wide spot in the road. Many people choose to hitchhike to Hanmer Springs, and resupply there.
The Boyle River Outdoor Education Center is located directly on the trail, and will accept packages for guests.
- Arthur’s Pass: more active tourist town, so hitching to/from AP is somewhat easier than, say, St. Arnaud. The Mountain House accepts packages for guests, or non-guests for 5$:
c/o The Mountain House
P.O. Box 12
Arthur’s Pass, 7654
- Lake Coleridge: resupplying in Lake Coleridge is not possible. The alternative to a food box here is to hitch out to Methven. Lake Coleridge is just north of the Raikaia River Hazard Zone. Most people attempt to hitch around the river, and choose to make their way to Methven to resupply in person. The Lake Coleridge Lodge accepts packages for guests. Note that this is an expensive option – accommodation at the Lodge starts at $65/night for a tent site, and there is a “rural delivery” surcharge on the postage.
c/o Lake Coleridge Lodge
114 Hummocks Road
CMB 18, Lake Coleridge Village
The total amount of maps covering Te Araroa exceeds 100. So even if you get them all printed double sided, this is a lot of paper to be carried and sent around in bounce boxes. After reading up on it and carefully considering weight and practical issues, we decided to vote for technology and not to take paper maps with us. The Te Araroa wiki lists a number of useful apps to avoid paperloads. We both have a smartphone and this is what we will mostly be relying on. An additional advantage is that this saves us the weight and the money of taking an additional GPS device. To keep our phones running we are taking a solar cell. The apps we will use are:
- iHike GPS NZ (Apple)
- Back Country Navigator (Android)
- Tide Time NZ
- Google Maps
We are also taking a compass in case technology fail. Can’t trust it 100% and in that way we don’t have to look at our phones all of the time to know what direction to go in.
Being covered by good insurance is one of the most important things for any traveler, especially if you are planning to do something adventurous. Coming back with high hospitalization or search and rescue bills is not exactly what we have in mind.
Most insurances only cover travels up to 90 days, but many have an option to prolongue this duration against a montly fee. New Zealand requires a valid insurance for the entire length of your stay, so it is important to check up on this before. We have unlimited medical cost coverage and Pj has unlimited search and rescue costs (I have a maximum amount of 5000 €). This is also a requirement from our visa.
To avoid massive paper loads with trail notes and excel files we will be using an e-reader. The Te Araroa trail notes are about 250 pages long so this device will save us a lot of weight. The notes are full with helpful tips, telephone numbers and contact details of companies to get across rivers, rent kayaks, and even private landowners you should call before accessing their farmland.
Going through 250 pages of information is still a lot so we were very happy when we we found this 22 pages long summary by Joe Delfino. It includes as good as all necessary information in a practical excel layout. Because it is also already over a year old, we still added the freshly updated trail notes to our e-reader so in case something does not make sense we can check it up.
We’ve been making our own notes as well based on the walking guide. The guide was published in 2011 but since its early days the trail has been changing a lot so the book is out of date. However, it is still a good read to get a general impression on the trail, its hazards and its points of interest. The trail passes by a lot of cultural heritage and places of historical importance. You can find and download our notes here. In this document, we have sampled information we found important in the guidebook, information we found on the internet and information we got from the Lonely Planet. It includes general info on New Zealand, accomodation options and places to get cheap/good food on the way. And all pizza places en route!