Te Araroa Hike – 2015

New Zealand appeals greatly to a lot of people. It seems like the ultimate travel destination; remote, English speaking, amazing nature, wildlife and scenery. Mountains, beaches, rivers, volcanoes, forests, the scenery is gorgeous and diverse. I visited New Zealand for the first time in December 2012 for five weeks and loved the country. That is when I first heard of the Te Araroa trail, crossing the country from North to South. As soon as I heard about it I knew that was something I wanted to do. After two years of planning and saving, I went back to New Zealand in November 2014 to start the trail, which I completed in April 2015.

There is a lot of information available online about the trail. The Facebook group is full of useful resources as well, past hikers have built resupply lists, condensed trail notes and gathered all types of information you might ask yourself. Below I have done a summary of information on my own hike and answers to questions that are most frequently asked on the Facebook group. My gear list is also available, but please bear in mind that my gear list would be different I was hiking the trail again today. A lot of past hikers have documented blogs where they give their gear list. If you have any questions about this trail feel free to e-mail me!

 

Disclaimer: Gear lists represent what I used on previous trips and are not necessarily representative of gear I would use if I was to do these trips again and/or if I had infinite funds to buy new gear.
TOTAL BASE WEIGHT
6656 g
Packing System
52L Zpacks Arc Blast backpack
561 g
Side and front backpack pockets
ZPacks Cuben Fiber Pack Liner
58 g
Shelter System
Zpacks Duplex tent with 10 stakes
634 g
Sleeping System
Therm-a-rest Neoair X-Lite Sleeping pad Small Size
225 g
Zpacks 900 Fill Power Down Solo Sleeping Bag 20F
552 g
Zpacks Goose Hood - Ultralight Goose Down Hood
40 g
Zpacks Cuben Fiber Roll Top Dry Bags size Medium Plus
26 g
Cooking and Food System
MSR Isopro 227g Fuel Canister
150 g
Light My Fire - Firesteel 2.0
29 g
Lighter
21 g
Mountain Laurel 475 Titanium Mug
39 g
MSR Reactor 1.0L Stove System
416 g
Light my Fire Titanium Spork
17 g
Victorinox Climber Translucent Knife
82 g
Water Storage
Platypus PlusBottle
79 g
Platypus Soft Bottle
25 g
Sawyer Mini Walter Filter with cleaning syringe
27 g
Miscellaneous Items
Miscellaneous Ear plugs
1 g
XeroShoes Women's Sensori Venture Light sandals
281 g
Miscellaneous AAA Lithium Batteries
34 g
Passport and Visa with waterproof case
38 g
Cactus Creek Pocket Shopping Bag Reusable grocery bag (Food bag)
38 g
Oakley Flak Jacket with pouch Sunglasses + Pouch
37 g
SealLine HP Waterproof Map Case Small
80 g
On Iphone and paper Te Araroa map (pdf)
100 g
Suunto Clipper L/B NH Compass
5 g
Fox 40 Classic Whistle
25 g
Fisher Space Pen
21 g
Bank cards and money
100 g
Zpacks Passport Zip Pouch
9 g
Toiletry items
Kinesys SPF 30 Suncreen Fragrance Free Spray
44 g
Miscellaneous Hairband
9 g
Ecolips Lip balm
10 g
Dental Floss
1 g
Gillette Venus Razor Blade
3 g
Campsud Soap bottle
157 g
Diva cup
18 g
Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Sacks 1L
34 g
Toob Travelbrush
25 g
Lightload Pack Bath towel
34 g
Miscellaneous Tweezers
11 g
Electronics
Apple NZ USB Wall Plug
20 g
Lifetrons High Tech Multi-Tool Adaptor
34 g
SPOT Gen3 Emergency GPS beacon with pack strap
135 g
Lifetrons External Battery + Cables
154 g
Kobo mini Ereader
134 g
Gorillapod Small Tripod with adaptor
63 g
Apple Headphones with mic
16 g
Apple Iphone 5S and Lifeproof Fre case
148 g
Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp
88 g
Timex Ironman Watch
Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Sack 2.5L Waterproof bag for electronics
29 g
Gear Repair
Miscellaneous Mini Duct Tape roll
19 g
Cuben Fiber Tape Strip Tent Repair Kit
8 g
Carried Clothing
Arc'teryx Rivet AR Gloves
50 g
Buff HeadBand
37 g
Teko Organix SIN3RGI Light Hiking socks
54 g
Arc'teryx Phase SL bottom Long johns
95 g
Arc'teryx Phase SL LS zip neck Long sleeve shirt
110 g
Arc'teryx Alpha SL Rain jacket
261 g
Arc'teryx Gamma SL Hybrid Hoody Softshell Jacket
312 g
The North Face Women's Thunder Micro Jacket Down Jacket
350 g
Asics Adelyn T-shirt
102 g
Patagonia Active Brief Underwear
60 g
Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Pant Waterproof hiking pants
199 g
eVENT Rain Mitts Waterproof mitains
36 g
Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Nano 1L
14 g
Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Sacks 3L
32 g
Worn Items (Not part of base weight)
La Sportiva Thunder III GTX Day Hiking Boots
Black Diamond Ultra Mountain Carbon Hiking Poles
Buff HeadBand
Teko Organix SIN3RGI Light Hiking socks
Asics Adelyn T-shirt
Patagonia Active Brief Underwear
Arc'teryx Palisade black 3/4 pants
LightSnow Gaitors (Mountain Laurel Design)

Te Araroa Tips and Tricks

Answers to some of the common questions about the trail.
Length of the trailRoughly around 3000 kilometers.
How much time do I needMost hikers take from 4 to 5 months to complete the trail. Very fast hikers can probably do it in 90 days. Runners in 50-60 days. It took me almost 5 months, but with a lot of days off.
Guidebook and MapsThe trail is quite recent and still evolves a lot. There is a book about the trail but it can't be used as navigation aid on the trail as it is not up to date and is more of a "coffee table" book. The official Te Araroa website has the current trail notes and maps, which are updated each year. People also prepare their own files by combining maps and trail notes on one document and these files are usually shared on the Te Araroa Facebook groups.
General information from past hikersThere is a main Te Araroa group on Facebook as well as groups for each "class" (year). Please search if your question has been asked before posting, the same questions come back all the time.
CommunicationI got a NZ sim card while travelling there. New Zealand phone companies have prepaid plans aimed specifically at travelers and you can easily buy sim cards at Auckland airport. On the North Island there is good cell coverage, on the South Island there are stretches without coverage.
HitchhikingHitchhiking is not absolutely necessary to complete the trail, but will make some resupplies easier. To get to the start of the trail I took the bus from Auckland to Whangarei and then hitched to Cape Reinga. It took me 5 different rides to get there. Many people told me that hitching in the North is not recommended... oh well...
VisaAs a Canadian I had to get a visitor's visa to stay more than three months in New Zealand. I sent copies of my bank accounts and on my visa they indicated that an onward ticket and evidence of financial support were not required. My visa was valid for 8 months after arrival. If you are under 30 or 35, depending on your home country, you can also request a working holiday visa, which is cheaper than the visitor's visa.
Wildlife/AnimalsThere is not much in terms of dangerous wildlife in New Zealand. I got ticks once on the North Island but I'm probably the only hiker that did... Keas (alpine parrots) can destroy gear in some parts of the South Island, stay in huts when you can. I think the biggest threat comes from dogs (I had trouble with one on the North Island) and farm animals.
Budget and ATMsA reasonable budget for the trail is approximately NZ$1000 per month. I think I ended up spending a little more than that. Don't forget to plan some budget for gear replacement, which is almost inevitable. You can probably spend less if you are very careful and frugal, but good luck resisting meat pies and Whittaker's chocolate. 😉
Whanganui riverAs I am writing these lines there is still part of the trail which is a river descent for which you need a canoe. You can find plenty of information about canoe rentals in the trail notes. If you are hiking alone and are in the main hiking season finding a partner that is willing to paddle with you should not be too hard.
ResupplyResupply locations on the North Island are plentiful. More planning has to be done for the South Island and mailing yourself two or three food packages is a good idea to avoid resupplying in small convenience stores. Locations where I would send a package that I can think of are St. Arnaud and Arthur's pass. Past hikers have created spreadsheets with resupplying data that can be found online. Packages can be prepared and shipped from Wellington before going to the South Island.
Bringing food into the countryI flew into New Zealand with a box full of commercial dehydrated meals. Dehydrated food is usually fine to import, but be sure to declare it at customs! A custom agent will probably inspect it. There is a limit on the quantity that you can import into New Zealand.
Getting back to Auckland from the end of the trailI flew back from Dunedin to Auckland. Other options include hitchhiking, driving a rental car that needs to be relocated, bus or walk back using Te Araroa trail!
Favorite trail foodBags of 20 shortbreads sold in some grocery stores. I am still ashamed of the speed at which I can go through those.
Where did I sleep?New Zealand has one of the most amazing hut system in the world! Seriously, it is truly amazing and I would love for my home country to have something similar. When hiking Te Araroa I would recommend getting a hut pass from the Department of Conservation (I got mine from the office in Auckland when I passed through there on my hike, there are no huts on trail North of Auckland).

Along the trail I stayed in a combination of freedom camping spots, paid campgrounds, DOC (Department of conservation) huts and campgrounds, private grounds, hostels, hotels, private homes and private lawns. The notes indicate very clearly when camping is not permitted, so plan your route accordingly.
LinksTe Araroa official website
Blog I wrote while on Te Araroa in 2014-2015

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