Why walk the length of New Zealand?

I have always explored my back yard but almost never on foot.  The freedom of discovery and adventure, remembering the path of those that have walked before me is the simple why!

Mid 2021, I drove to Wellington across the North Island to Whanganui, down the west coast and returned via the east coast.  A round trip on roads I haven’t travelled for a long while, roads each side of the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges.  I’ll be walking in the Tararua Ranges late 2021. Thrilling!

I know New Zealand pretty well in doing these road trips but the long path or Te Araroa is only known best by those who walk.

Our land is fragile due to weather and other natural change and is further impacted by our walking presence.  Paths are widened by hikers avoiding tricky sections by not staying on the designated path trampling on vegetation beside the track. Often there are options to pass wet muddy areas but my plan is to go straight up the middle where possible.

The leave no trace is very important to me.

When hiking in the Kaimai Ranges I noticed a tree had fallen across the track and down a steep slope, it looked a recent fall. The area of fresh vegetation was compacted by hikers walking down the slippery slope and around instead of finding a way through. The impact looked like a congregation had taken place trampling a wide girth with a path around the area totally trampled and bare.

To stay on the track wherever possible and find a way under or over the fallen tree made good sense. Yes, it involved a little bit of working out but the safest way through as long as the log was stable.

In hiking solo, I know that I’ll be safe as long as there is water and I continue to believe I’m resourceful enough to sustain myself with what I carry.  The idea of setting off each day, not knowing how far I’ll get, or what I’ll see is pretty exciting.  

The track origins and historic routes in NZ fascinate me. There are many untold stories yet to be discovered as our history is reviewed and retold more accurately.  I’ve read stories about how my family remained connected using routes across the North Island.  They travelled on foot, by horse and in carts to get to their destination. History tells us that regular walking tracks were widened to later become roads over time as goods and trading increased.

Walking Te Araroa is my chance to head direct south to experience paths first made by land animals before becoming well-worn foot tracks by Maori and later by traders to now us trampers.

Being completely on my own schedule and free to change plans, take a picture or get my breath back or just enjoy being out there is why I am doing this. 

I recall the wonderful feeling as a teenager of skiing on the lake, and snow skiing, landing 5kg rainbow and heavier brown trout as an adult.  It’s been a long time since I have experienced that adrenalin rush.  In planning and preparation for Te Araroa what lays ahead dances with my mind. 

My motivation came from these two.

I watched the movie Woman at War, Woman At War – Official Trailer – YouTube , she trekked over Iceland mountains chasing her political rivals.  When I watched the movie, I recognised the freedom within me to want to run over the hills and express well considered views.  I’m not sure that I’m able to run nor do I have anything specifically to give voice too other than freedom. 

I met Karllie YOLO SOLO | Facebook on Great Barrier Island last year and she is an inspiration for solo travellers.  Her stories of her own experience and those from her Maori heritage, especially those told of her 90 Mile Beach section of TA, were thrilling.  Sleeping out on the beach and in the bush and campsites?  What freedom!

Find your happiness and
learn to put it first

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