7th February

32.8km

Arrowtown 2637.9km to Bushcamp Greenstone Track 2670.7km

The next section of trail will be tricky for several reasons. I’m heading into the tourist mecca of Queenstown. All accommodation and campsites are fully booked. The other tricky thing about this section is the Te Araroa Trail ends at Queenstown and requires a shuttle or hitch hiking to the other side of a large lake, about 1.5 hours of driving to the start of the next section of trail. And the shuttle only runs a couple of times during the day, not late in the afternoon. Then there’s the resupply I need to do for the next 8 days and the 30 plus kilometers of hiking. Add all that together and it will be a big day ahead of me. Yesterday I thought it not possible.

The air was cool and still as I hiked through the upper class outer suburban sprawl of Queenstown. Most of the luxury homes on the golf course seemed empty, their owners using them as their holiday homes. In the distance the mountain range called The Remarkables caught my eye. Two hot air balloons slowly drifted on the morning air currents. Many years ago I drifted by hot air balloon over the Maasai Mara and Serengeti in Africa. A truely peaceful way to see the world below. Even my fear of heights did not seem to bother me on those occasions.

The trail did a good job of avoiding roads as it weaved through suburbs and followed a series of lakes, canals and rivers before following the large lake into Queenstown.

10am photo

10km outside Queenstown I stopped at the large Pac n Save, the cheapest grocery store in New Zealand. I stocked up with 8 days food which I hoped will get me all the way to the south coast of New Zealand. Despite having several opportunities to get off trail to resupply I feel I want to be on trail and not in towns if possible. The trail will end soon so I’d like to enjoy it. From here it should only be 10 days to the Bluff which is the end of the trail. I considered linking several other trails in the area such as the Routeburn and Caples Track before joining back with the Te Araroa but I’ve already hiked those trails many years ago.

I sat outside the grocery store repacking the food into ziploc bags. There is so much wasteful packaging on the food I buy. My homelessness caught the eye of every person entering the store, only those that knew of the Te Araroa Trail knew what I was doing. Surprisingly, the Te Araroa Trail is little known in New Zealand outside of the hiking community. Many people have the trail run right past their house and have no idea why people walk past with backpacks and trekking poles.

I walked as fast as I could with my heavy backpack for the final 2 hours to the centre of Queenstown. On route I called a shuttle company that was leaving at 3.45pm to the next small village of Glenorchy. This was a long way from the start of the trail but it’s in the right direction. I could try and hitch hike from there.

At Glenorchy the tourist busses were still ensuring the towns shops were filled. I made my way to the local bar for my last non packaged meal for the next week. At 5pm I stuck out my thumb and got a lift a little closer to the start of the trail. The next village along was called Kinloch. The population of 9 swells during the tourist season. A British backpacker picked me up. She was working at the small cafe opposite the campground. From there it was a 12km road walk to the next section of trail.

The sun was getting low in the sky when I started hiking on the quiet dirt road. Behind me the glacier covered mountains that separate the Reece and Dart valleys reared up higher than the other peaks in the area. Just the other side of those mountains lay the famed Milford Sound.

After an hour of hiking I heard a car approaching from behind me. Two of the nine permanent residents of Kinloch were heading to the trailhead to pick up a friend. I got a lift. At 7pm I made it to the start of the trail. For the next section of trail the Te Araroa trail follows one of New Zealand’s famous tracks, The Greenstone Track.

I recently heard of another route that some hikers had taken. It left Wanaka and headed over the high passes of Mt Aspiring National Park before descending to the Dart track. From there it could he linked to other famous tracks such as the Routeburn and Capels track. I might look into that route when I return to New Zealand. It looks like a much better route than the current one. Yes, I will return. There are too many world class hiking tracks to be explored.

I hiked a few short kilometers to find a sandfly infested flat spot next to the river. Most hikers take 2-3 days to do what I achieved in one. My mind and body were understandably exhausted. There was no way I could make it any further to the next hut. I was spent and it was getting dark.

Distance to The Bluff 325km

If you enjoy following along on my journey, let me send you a postcard from New Zealand? I have set up a Patreon site with various levels of support. For those that would like to help out with my journey, I can give something in return. Thank you in advance. https://www.patreon.com/bikehikesafari


You might like to read:

Complete Te Araroa Trail
Te Araroa Trail Gear List
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

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12 Responses

  1. Sally Mastin

    Hi Brad. I have enjoyed reading your blog. Thank-you so much for sharing your experiences. The photos and your stories are awesome and inspiring.
    Have you crossed paths with a fellow named Skippy (Josh)? He is a triple crowner also. I met him on the PCT in 2016 and he is hiking the Te Araroa this year too.
    Kindest wishes to you Brad.

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      Hi Sally, thanks for the kind words. Didn’t meet Skippy. I only know of 2 other Triple Crowners hiking the trail this year, but there are so many hikers spread out on the trail this year. I could have walked past him and not known. Hope you and Paul are well.

      Reply
  2. aaron green

    Hey Brad
    Once again another inspiring journey! We are back in Cairns now enduring the heat.
    I have been waiting anxiously for your shoe review. I currently hike in Salomon Speedcross as that is what I ran trails in and found the narrow toes were less likely to get caught on tree roots etc.
    I really want to try some nice wide Altra Lone Peaks in prep for PCT
    what have you found most comfortable? There is a brand called HOKA however they rate as comfortable but not overly long lasting? Any advice appreciated

    Take care Safe travels
    Aaron

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      Salomon speed cross are great shoes but too narrow for me. The XA pro from Solomon are popular and they have a USA only thru hiking shoe called the Odyssey Pro. I loved the Lone Peak, great wear life (1500km), comfortable and light. The Altra Timp were crap. The first holes appeared on day 2 of wearing them. I’ll never use or recommend them again. The Olympus were good but not as good as the Lone Peak 4. I’ll have an extended review in coming weeks. Stay tuned.

      Reply
  3. Nas Shannon

    The sandflies hope you come back to NZ very soon. They obviously love you! 😉

    Reply
  4. Alan Grant

    Totally remember the inside of our tent looking just the same in the Caples Valley, Brad. Those northern Southland sandflies are just ferocious. Onward to the Mavora Lakes!

    Reply
  5. Matthew Gordon (@mgrxnz)

    Hi, just spent time reading all your blog posts about Te Araroa! I did the Queen Charlotte track earlier this month and since then have been wondering what it would be like to hike the whole TA. Your posts are certainly an inspiration! Maybe one day I’ll get to follow in your footsteps… although I am very nervous about all the river crossings. I really don’t like water. Look forward to the last couple of weeks of the series.

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      Thanks for the kind words. After finishing the TA I hope to write a couple of blog posts about hiking safety including how to cross rivers safely. Many hikers got swept away by rivers this year. Luckily nobody died or got injured but people had destroyed phones and electronics that could have been prevented. Stay tuned.

      Reply

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