Monday, 8 September 2014

Te Araroa Trail – The Long Pathway

For those of you who don’t know. Well here’s what Wikipedia says!

Te Araroa (The Long Pathway) is New Zealand’s newest long distance tramping route, from Cape Reinga to Bluff. The 3000 km route officially opened on December 3, 2011 after 10 years of work by hundreds of volunteers. Construction coordinated by the Te Araroa Trust is ongoing.
The trail has approximately 300 sections ranging from walks of 1–2 hours through to a 9-day route in the South Island where full equipment must be carried. Te Araroa joins a mixture of existing tracks and walkways, new tracks and link sections alongside roads. 40% of the trail crosses conservation land and the Government allocated $NZ3.8 million for development of new sections of the trail on conservation land in 2007.
For more information, visit:
The straight line distance from Cape Reinga to Bluff is 1475 km, but the Te Araroa Trail covers a longer nominal distance of 3000 km and has since been adjusted with upgraded sections. Tramping the full length of the trail takes three to six months. The fastest effort was by British ultramarathon runner Jezz Bragg, who managed 53 days during the 2012-13 season, although he contracted giardia and was lucky to survive being swept away by a river in the Richmond Ranges.
Some bloggers report around 100 days, but many take their time to enjoy the whole season and spend around 150 days.
Route Subject to Change!

For more information visit:
Between these four sites, you’ll find all the information you’ll need to plan your trip. All these resources are compiled by the Te Araroa Trust, past, present and future hikers. A big thanks to all.

Who are we?
Glen – A Kiwi (Living in UK the last 15 years), former electrician and building services engineer and now a budding yoga teacher. I have historical experience with the New Zealand wilderness however after 20 years of being a ‘city slicker’, I harbour no illusion that this will be an easy feat.
Sherren – A British Police Officer, budding yoga teacher and adventurer.

Why are we walking it?
When we decided to come to Aotearoa, we agreed to buy a car and travel the length of the country to see as much as we could. After about a week Sherren said “can you cycle it?”
Well of course you can, so we started researching this option and happened across the Te Araroa and were sold. After all, why not walk?
After all this is about our experience in the now and not being one of those old farts sitting around saying “I wish I’d done that when I was younger!”

When are we walking it?
We are planning to set off from Cape Rienga on the 28th September. This route is referred to as SOBO (south bound). Hoping to have completed the north island by Christmas when we will take a break to catch up with family and complete a 3 week yoga workshop before setting off from Picton on the 17th/18th January also SOBO

What challenges we expect?
1)We both have vegan diets, which is difficult at the best of times when undertaking a hike of this magnitude and New Zealand doesn’t make this any easier (for obvious agrarian economic reasons).
Therefore a lot of time and effort has gone into researching what we can eat and re-supply with along the way. Which will mean we will be sending more food parcels ahead and carrying more food than most folks when these parcels arrive. I don’t think we’ll be facing starvation at any point however we’d like to enjoy what we’re eating along the way as much as possible.

2)We both have a daily Ashtanga Yoga practice. For us it is not an option to put this on hold. Therefore we will be up before dawn each day to complete our practice before setting off. The practice is 90 minutes and usually consumes about 600kcals. Therefore we expect to walk less than the average walker each day and will plan on taking extra rest days to prevent exhaustion. The Ultimate challenge here will be finding groundspace flat and stable enough to practice on. It could end up getting a little mucky.
One product we did manage to find is and here’s what they say.

“You can take YogaPaws Anywhere, meaning you can Do Yoga ANYWHERE!  Mountain Top, bike trail, airport, rest area, back porch, Water Fall, Central Park, in the Rain, in the Ocean.  No Matter how crazy or slippery from sweat or sea water, YogaPaws will keep you solid in each pose. The world is your studio with YogaPaws.
So wherever life takes you, take your practice with you!”

So we’ve decided to give them the Te Araroa Test and see how they hold up. And if you see us along the way don’t be shy, Join in. Your ceased joints and stiff muscles will thank you for it.

Why are we not walking to raise funds for a charity?
Two vegan yogi’s walking the length of New Zealand and not doing it for charity. Hard to believe isn’t it?
But with most western government regulation dictating that only a meagre 5% actually has to go to any given cause, I have a hard time watching the other 95% fill the coffers of these so called do gooders. If you feel charitable please donate your time and efforts to helping your preferred cause.
However if you are walking for charity and that’s something you believe in, don’t let us deter you.

Will it look good on your CV?
If you’re a graduate who speaks 4 languages, are on the equestrian, chess or fencing team, plays cello in quartet, with a keen interest in conquering any challenge that lay ahead and you’re walking for charity, etc. And you’re aiming for an internship with a multinational powerhouse, then probably. Otherwise it will look better than any other unexplained 6 month absence from education or work (I.e. Prison)

Equipment research and acquisition.
We decided to walk the trail about a year ago and began loosely researching and planning at the same time. Some of the best research you can find will be from previous and current walkers via the Te Araroa Facebook , Wiki, and forum pages. Once you get an idea for something you want or like, just hit the internet for reviews and comparisons (I.e. Outdoor Gear Lab is a fantastic site). It’s time consuming but it’s all part of the fun.

One difficulty we’ve had with the purchasing of our desired equipment is that we left the UK 7 months prior to our planned set off date, visiting India, Thailand and Australia on the way with a total of 8 flights prior to landing in New Zealand. Ideally, I wanted to purchase all our equipment in one go and ship it in but it was just too much to lug around for so long. If you are travelling from Europe or the Americas, I would recommend bringing everything you need including batteries as New Zealand can be notoriously expensive and under stocked. Therefore, we purchased and carried what we could and then shopped around once we got here.
However given the lack of stock in the country we have been completing our purchases online and have ordered in from the UK and USA. Delivery is actually extremely quick and we’ve not yet had to wait longer than a week.
That said, we have managed to get some good deals here too. It’s just been a matter of checking for online sales regularly or just asking for discount in store (which has proven effective on all occasions) and having somewhere to send the gear or knowing someone local who can pick it up is a huge help (thanks Mum). Of course this method also requires time.

Stores and online retailers we’ve used for gear and food are:

Trail Designs - USA
Yoga Paws - USA
Amazon - UK
Springfield - Camping UK
Chain Reaction - UK
Simply Cycle - UK
Banana Fingers - UK
Ellis Bingham - UK
Bivouac - Tauranga
Kathmandu - Tauranga
R&R Sport - Hamilton
Blademaster - Auckland
Hunting and Fishing - Tauranga
Kmart - Mount Maunganui
The Warehouse - Tauranga
Payless Plastics - Tauranga
The 123 Mart ($2 Shop) - Mount Maunganui
Rebel Sport - Tauranga

New World
The Asian Supermarket - Tauranga
Bin Inn - Tauranga
Wild Earth Organics - Tauranga
Merchant Gourmet - Tauranga

I have this romantic notion, that if you’re from the USA you can just walk into REI and purchase every thing you need in one go, get a huge discount and walk out – Job done. However I stand to be corrected and as frustrating as it has been locating gear at a fair price, it has been fun searching.

We’ve just about completed our gear and food list and will publish along with weights when the last few items arrive.

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