Te Araroa, “The Long Pathway”, is a 3000+km long hiking trail spanning New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Bluff. After several decades of struggle for land acces and funding the trail officially opened in 2011. In October 2014 we set ourselves the challenge to walk it all the way from its northernmost to its southernmost point. Crossing Aotearoa was our first long distance hiking project. The journey took us along beautiful beaches, through dense forests and through many of the remote ranges of the Southern Alps.
The trail was created by a kiwi called Geoff Chapel, who led the efforts for its establishment and was the first one to actually walk it. Still today, the trail grows and changes thanks to the enormous effort of volunteers spread over the country, coordinated by the Te Araroa Trust and its regional divisions.
It is not your average walking trail. Many coming from Europe or the States have doubted if it can even be called a trail. It is not a preformed, wide-benched and well-maintained track to comfortably take one across the country. Te Araroa will take you straight to the roots of the kiwi tramping tradition, where walking and climbing intertwine with each other, where going out into the back country means getting your hands dirty and your boots wet. Walking in rivers, hauling yourself up on cables and chains, getting yourself across mine fields of fallen trees and boulders or standing calve deep in a muddy pool will give you a good demonstration of how to do it ‘kiwi-style’ and demand you to be somewhat inventive about your walking techniques.
All of these are reasons why Te Araroa is considered to be one of the harder long distance trails on offer. It was a mental and a physical challenge. We cursed, we shouted and we cried, but we were be rewarded beyond our imagination. As we came to embrace the tramping concept, the lack of a well-defined trail enables a sense of true remoteness, of being lost out there. We walked through an amazing variety of landscapes, including subtropical forests, temperate rainforests, active volcanoes and across high mountain passes, over ridgelines and through high-walled valleys. By the time we came to the end of it, it was unbelievable that we started off in the same country, in a straight line merely 1400km from the finishing point.
But it is not only the variety making Te Araroa unique. It is the hut system as well and above all, it is the people. Te Araroa is not only a walk through nature, it is an encounter with culture as well. We felt that we got straight under the skin of New Zealand and were heart-warmed with kiwi hospitality. We found a kindness, openess and generosity possibly unique to this far corner of the planet.
The trail is not finished, it is not perfect, it is a work in progress. Yet the reward of enduring is all the greater the more you endure. We can only recommend to go the whole way. We enjoyed walking on the south island more, because the trails are better. However, we were far more impressed by the north island, where the trail is slowly growing together, with its trail community and its amazing variety of landscapes. The contrasts are magnificent, and not for anything in this world would we have missed it. A huge thank you to everyone who helped us along the road, this has been an unforgettable journey.
For more info:
- Our logistics, gear and food pages below
- Te Araroa Fun Facts
- Department of Conservation
- New Zealand Mountain Safety Council
- Also check the Te Araroa Facebook group for updates from other hikers and information on weather/route closures
- Photo collection
Preparing for Te Araroa might seem like a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first through-hike. Yet it is not as hard as it seems, and the key rule is to remember that most things will explain and solve themselves when you are out there. The best piece of advice we’ve read before starting was to… Continue reading Te Araroa Planning & Logistics
Below you can find the complete gear list for our Te Araroa and Bibbulmun hikes. This was our first thru-hike and we learned a lot about gear and weight along the way. We underestimated the importance of weight, especially if you have to sustain it in your pack for months on end, so many things… Continue reading Te Araroa Gear List
Food. You want it. You want it now! You want lots of it. You want it greasy. You want it in unlimited supplies to fuel that hiker hunger. Food will dominate your thoughts and your conversations from beginning to end, increasingly more as you progress on the trail. So let’s talk about food. What to… Continue reading A Gastronomical Guide to Te Araroa
So many of you have helped us prepare for this trip in so many ways. Without you, we would not have been standing where we are standing right now. We feel very grateful and very proud for having you as our friends and our family. You have helped us get the confidence we needed to embark… Continue reading Thank you