Well, I suppose I had better start writing some stuff down. I have done a couple of training walks (shock treatment I call them) in order to get my fitness/confidence up. The Barrier is pretty much the perfect place to train for anything like this.
The first walks were pretty much beach walks but they didn’t last long. Then a little bit for Rural Fire with the weight pack on (20kg’s), a walk with Logan, a couple of pack-less walks in along Tramline track and a 10 or 15km walk with pack up to Mt Heale and back.
Followed the next weekend by walking Forest Road to Port Fitzroy and over the hill to Whangapoua where I camped the night to test out my tent and equipment. Jeff Cleave spotted me at the end of that walk and described me as having a purposeful stride :). I was a little bit shattered. But it was a nice night and I got to test out my filtration kit as the water at the campground looked a little bit like effluent.
Everything seems to works fairly well. The only minor screw-up being I lit my gas cooker wrong, set off the thermal shutdown, and then couldn’t reset it so I was forced to fall back onto my emergency supplies of wine and cheese instead of having a cooked dinner. That’s why you do prep I suppose. Saves me walking down Ninety Mile beach living on cold soggy noodles or something.
This is a bit of a simple gear list and it isn’t quite finished but should give people some idea of what I am carrying. Most of it was bought at Living Simply with hours of help from Chris….Thanks, Chris! I have matched it up against the prime list given on the Te Araroa site. I’ll edit this up later once it is all finalised, and I have an idea of weight, if I get time.
I have now added a “The other end of Te Araroa” post which explains what gear was used and how it worked as well as some things I would have liked to have had.
Pre Te Araroa Gear List
Te Araroa site gear list
My gear list
Several pairs of trail socks
3 x Merino trail socks
Decent trail shoes (light-weight ones that drain well) or boots – personal preference
Interestingly, my pack has ended up a bit heavier than I was aiming for. 13kgs base weight. With food and water this will add up to an initial walking weight of about 17kgs….which sorta sucks and was partially the reason for buying the dehydrated food. I need to make sure my fitness will be OK as all my training walks were with a 13kg pack. Cest la vie.
I have scrambled around to come up with a book list. The major problem being that if I haven’t read a book then I don’t know what it is about. Eventually, I sent an email to the universities who all failed to come up with any ideas. Their only replies consisted of,”as you aren’t a student with us you will be unable to access our ebooks”. I did get a reply from Bella Chase from Auckland Library with some good suggestions.
Current book list
Being Pakeha Now, by Michael King.
Chapple Recollections – Te Araroa
Culture Shock! New Zealand, by Peter Oettli.
History of New Zealand, by Michael King.
How to Gaze at the Southern Stars, by Richard Hall.
New Zealand – Culture Smart, by Sue Butler.
One Step at a Time: From Cape Reinhardt to Bluff, by Shalane Hopkins.
Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand, by Jarrod Gilbert.
Squashed Possums: Off the beaten track in New Zealand, by Jonathan Tindale.
Stories of New Zealand, by Tim Frank.
Survive!: Remarkable Tales from the New Zealand Outdoors, by Carl Walrond.
Terrain, by Geoff Chapple.
The History of Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand.
Womans Suffrage in New Zealand, by Patricia Grimshaw.
Tahuhu Korero, by Merata Kawharu.
Logan Campbell’s Auckland: tales from the early years, by R.C.J. Stone.
Kinds of Peace: Maori People After the Wars, 1870–85, by Keith Sinclair.
King Pōtatau: an account of the life of Pōtatau te Wherowhero the first Maori king, by Pei Te Hurinui.
First Contact: Tasman’s Arrival in Taitapu, 1642 by Anne Salmond.
Making sheep country: Mt Peel Station and the transformation of the tussock lands, by Robert Peden.
Old Bucky & me: dispatches from the Christchurch earthquake, by Jane Bowron.
Actually, this will start a little further back than Ahipara……
Dad and I traveled up from Auckland on Monday, firstly to Kaiwaka to see Ashley and Aubrey, Kaikohe for lunch, and then to Ahipara to stay the night at the YHA and hopefully pick up any news from hikers who had just finished 90 mile. Nobody seemed to have just walked in so that plan fell over.
On the way to Kaitaia things began to get a little more real as we started weaving on and off the edges of my printed maps and then up the Mangamuka Gorge…and up…and up. It is remarkable how well reality was setting in by the time we reached the top (That is part of the next trail).
The next morning we headed to Cape Reinga.
It is very beautiful, and steep. Luckily I was already at the top so after one photo I said my goodbyes and headed off.
Currently I am at Twilight Camp so the actual beach part starts tomorrow. I did end up taking a few more photos though 🙂 I will add them in later as they appear to be to big currently.
Getting dropped off early in the morning worked well. It is a long way from Ahipara to Cape Reinga and lots of people I met who hitched didn’t make it until later in the day. Another option might be staying at the Tapotupotu Campsite the day before.
Matching the right tides up to my start date was a good idea. What I looked for was around a half after high tide when I started out so I wouldn’t have problems being forced up into the dunes on my way down Ninety Mile Beach.
Although Twilight Camp was a good first stop on the journey it didn’t take me long to get there and I probably should have grabbed some more water and pushed on to shorten the next day.
Today was my first real day of walking as I got up at dawn, made a cuppa, packed up, and headed off. Oh, and there was gruel too.
It takes quite a lot of time to pack up and the entire effort seems quite useless when you know that you will do the reverse that evening, albeit in a different place. I feel some sort of tent pack concertina arrangement might be a better idea. Something that solves the entire put up tent to put pack in fiasco.
There is an island with a hole in it. I probably should have taken a picture of it in retrospect. I found it is useful for judging distance travelled by the size, or lack thereof, of the hole.
There is a lot of beach, with much sand. It looks like this place has been getting beaten by waves. Many of the sand dunes are cliffs with vegetation hanging down them.
Thus far, I have been aiming for campsites to stay the night at. Or at least to aim for. I think that this may have been a bit of a mistake and this campsite isn’t any different from sleeping behind a sand dunes. No water, no shelter, toilet broken. I had a look at getting their water system going but in the end just filtered some water out of a bathtub. It was easier.
There was a motorcycle this morning that passed me by heading south. I think he must have to do it every day because an hour or so after he disappeared the tourist bus came through. It looked like a good job.
There isn’t nearly as much rubbish as I thought there would be. I pretty much expected something like the west coast of the barrier used to be like when I was a kid with tangled bags and six pack holders, nets and lost buoys. However, in most areas there is only one piece of visible rubbish about every fifty meters with the frequency increasing around campgrounds.
This was a long day. I wished I had of shortened it by walking further the day before.
There were a couple of streams at the start but not so many as I went along. Taking extra water is a good thing.
The hole in the rock is about the only way of seeing any progress you have made.
The dunes look like massive bluffs in the distance that slowly shrink as you get closer until they are only ten or so meters tall.
It feels like it goes on forever, the walking that is. Without the island to give me a reference point I would lose track of time and couldn’t tell whether I had just had a break or whether it was hours ago.
At one point I saw a stick that looked like a man riding a bicycle and it was only when I got closer that I realised it was a man riding a bicycle….in floro. Very disconcerting.
4WD’s occasionally went past but I didn’t see any tourist buses.
I forgot to say that at the Bluff Campground I met a French tourist who asked me whether it would be a good idea to drive down the beach. I think I sort of killed it for him by asking to many questions.
“Is it your car?”
“Is it 4WD?”
“Have you ever driven on a beach before”
Finally, I saw a flag (to give me hope) and after a small amount of wandering confusion due to my slightly dehydrated state I found myself in the wonderful Utea Park.
I did try to figure out the history of the lodge. They were defiantly doing something. But then two guys turned up with a didgeridoo and offered me a beer after which we went to get some more.
They have fantastic metal roads up here for the logging trucks. Wide, flat, and one of them had a roundabout.
By the time the owners turned there were quite a few of us outside and it didn’t faze them at all. They just joined right in.
Sorry, I didn’t get many photos. I got sidetracked.
Utea Park was great. It would be a good place to rest for a day even if you aren’t feeling like it.
I managed to get up slightly before dawn thanks to a great sleep at Utea Park, had a brief conversation with the owner and got underway.
Perfect walking weather! Light in the morning, slightly overcast once the sun rose a bit, tail wind, the whole caboose really.
Things began to go downhill from there.
I think the rain started about the same time the wind changed. Pretty soon visibility was down to about half a kilometre and then I began to get tired.
By the time I reached Ahipara it was probably about 2pm. I had seen it many times between showers and it just never seemed to be any closer.
The last two hours were pretty interminable and by the time I got to the holiday park I was in no fit state of mind to set up camp in the rain so I got myself a little cabin, ate two meals, and now at the happy hour of 8pm I am going to go to bed.
Maybe I should have camped up when it started raining. I had set a goal and I made it but there was no reason I couldn’t have taken an extra day.
I ended up staying a couple of days in Ahipara waiting for some guys that I met in Utea Park to do the Herikino with them. Don’t wait for other people. When they arrived at Ahipara they were taking a week off for their feet to recover.
Left Ahipara at 7:00am and headed for the Herikino track.
Arrived at the start super early as I accepted a lift up the hill from a young guy going to his first day of work on a farm. There goes my walking NZ credibility. In my defence, I had already been accosted by three dogs that morning and it looked like it was going to become a theme.
The track was quite steep at the beginning, muddy, slippery, and quite good fun. Then it headed off over a series of ridge lines and around peaks, through some stands of large Kauri, and up another ascent until it came to Diggers Road (an old mining road I think) which was great. If a little boggy at times.
The final ascent to the highest peak didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would but the descent took ages through slippery steep terrain.
A great thing about Te Araroa is that if you are ever in doubt that you have gone the right way you can always look down and see the small holes made by others walking poles. It was all very well marked though.
Having completed all that, I thought I should try and push through to the next track. I haven’t made it though so now it looks like I will be sleeping in a derelict forestry shed.
The whole idea of keeping going was to beat the weather and not get stuck at Apple Dam for too long. This now looks even more in doubt. Oh well. Cest la vie.
It really is a lovely shed. Very me :).
Shortly after writing the above I heard the sound of singing down the valley and, after a brief moment of think I was going mad, two more trampers turned up. Bertinna and Josie.
Dogs can be a problem. Although I don’t know of anyone who has been bitten on Te Araroa, there have been a few close incidents. Another plus for walking poles. In general, ignore them and they will ignore you.
There were a couple of trucks on the road down to the forest. Put your Hi Viz vest on and get off the road when they come through. They don’t have much room.
Keep an eye on where you are going through the pine forest. Berttina and Josie got talking and missed a turn off. I almost missed it.
Walking on to Takahue only takes about another hour and a half from the pine forest. Call the guy there from the notes and stay at his place. I didn’t, but supposedly he is great and on the Trust. He also makes knives with a forge.
Up at dawn again as we all knew we had a big day ahead of us. We just didn’t know how big.
We walked down through Takahue and then up a long metal roads up a hill to the start of Ratea track. Very steep.
The first summit was Ratea at 744m and then bog after bog between going over some 727m, 638m, and 445m summits.
Incredibly muddy, slippery, steep, the whole way through.
We would have got away with it if the track hadn’t mysteriously disappeared at the bottom of the last summit. After checking our GPS we discovered that the GPS line diverged from from our path at the top of the last summit so back up we went until we met up with two more people (Heather and Chris) so back down we went to double check our opinion. They concurred so back up we went.
I should point out that by this time we had all been walking for at least 12hrs and the sun was about to go down. None of us were in the best of form. At one point on the way back up I threw myself down and said,”I’m having a rest and then I will go up to the summit and camp there for the night!”.
After a short rest I scrambled back up the track only to find at the top that the others had decided the GPS track was no good and that the track we had just ascended was actually the correct one.
This was confirmed when Heather and Chris called a friend who had been through a couple of days before.
So back down we went. I was feeling slightly better now that we had some instructions and back down the hill we slid until late we got back to the point the trail disappeared, turned our head torches on and dived into the bush following Chris with his GPS.
It took about an hour, a creek, supple jack, and Bertinna getting a stick in the eye to convince us that we didn’t know where we were or which way to go and decided to set up camp for the night.
There is water at the base and on the way up the hill to Ratea Track. Fill up at every opportunity. You may have to camp in the middle of it.
A couple of people took a left where they should have taken a right. It’s a good idea to check your GPS after you take a turn. I can save you miles of backtracking.
The GPS line from the top of the hill was wrong. Hopefully it has been fixed now. However, it would have led us out if we had of kept following it.
We shouldn’t have tried to walk through the bush at night. The camping idea was a far better one.
There are a lot of dogs at the farm house. Avoid them if you can but if you can’t don’t worry to much about them. Lots of barking but no bite.
Ratea was a sort of coming of age for the T.A. community. It was the start of many conversations, to the point where you’re tired of hearing about it. Loads of people had a bad time and this became a common bond.
Everything looks better in the morning. Getting out of where we were wasn’t easy but at least we could see now and weren’t so tired.
There were a lot of dogs at the farm house. About 10 of them. Luckily the owner was home. After that we walked down Makene Road until we got to a Trampers Camping spot at the bottom where we filled up on water.
The road to Mangamuka Bridge was hot and busy. At one point a drunk home owner invited us in fro a drink. I was very tempted.
Maybe 3 hours later we were at the Mangamuka Bridge dairy and I was scoffing a pie and downing a couple of Lifts. Not feeling much better but today is a short day as we only have to reach Apple Tree Camp which we did at about 2pm.
It is nice and has water. Our lives revolve around water.
There is a trampers camp near the bottom of Makene Road. You can easily filter water out of the stream there.
The Mangamuka Bridge dairy is a great place to stay for lunch. They also have some accommodation I think.
Apple Tree Camp isn’t the greatest when it is raining as the water comes down the drive. Try and grab the top spot.
Due to rain people try and walk the road around Puketi to Kerikeri. It’s supposedly a horrible walk. If you can’t wait then hitch…..or you can go halfway round and try coming back up the Lower Waipapa River Track.