October 29th

22.5km

Kaitaia 115.8km to Last water camp 138.3km

There were several hikers staying at Beachcombers Backpackers in Kaitaia, some were injured, some were taking rest days and some were getting ready to start the trail. I’ve met maybe 20 hikers so far and only two are from New Zealand.

Maybe this is not a popular hike for the locals, maybe it’s not well know or maybe they don’t like the trail. Considering it is a young trail there already many reports that it’s not living up to the promise of a world class long distance hiking trail. I’ll reserve my opinion until about 4 months from now, so far so good.

10am

With part of the trail closed it was a road walk to get back onto the trail. While I prefer trail hiking I’m not going to skip the roadwalking and hitch hike. I want to reach the end of the trail and say I hiked all the way from the northern tip of New Zealand.

It was a real four seasons in one day kinda day. Rain, wind, sun, cloud, heat and cold took turns at trying to break me. The trail started with several kilometers of hiking on the almost non existent shoulder of highway 1, the busiest road in this part of the world. But things got better.

While hiking down the rural roads I discovered a side of New Zealand that few tourists get to see. Everyone greeted me with a wave or stopped to chat. Some of the conversations lasted nearly an hour. I learned about the New Zealand dairy industry and how it’s changed over the years. One guy told me about hobby farming and only keeping a small plot of land with a couple of beef cattle. Then there was the conversation about Freedom Camping in New Zealand. This still confuses me. Apparently freedom camping is allowed on all public lands in New Zealand but local councils have different laws throughout the country. Apparently there is legislation to standardise the law to remove any ambiguity. Maybe some local New Zealand readers of the blog can clarify ‘Freedom Camping’ a bit more in the comments section below.

Scenery from the trail

I camped alone next to the side of a small road near a small but noisy stream. This is listed as the last reliable water for 16km. Although I arrived at around 4.30pm it didn’t make sense to continue. The predicted strong wind and heavy rain was forecast after 6pm. I settled into my tent and contemplated tomorrow. The trail is said to be one of the toughest and muddiest section on the whole north island. Add to that the predicted storm and I might be in for a fun day tomorrow.

 


Next – Day 7 The Muddy Death Forest

All the tips you need to hike the Te Araroa Trail : Te Araroa Trail

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Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Continental Divide Trail

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8 Responses

  1. Saint Rick

    It’s hard to believe that NZ with it’s tiny population relative to land size can’t route a trail that avoids road walking and farmland in the North Island. XI say this in consideration of trails like the AT that skirt several cities of a few million people and barely crosses a paddock. Even the Great North Walk from Circular Quay to Newcastle makes fantastic use of state parks and remnant bushland to create a more or less seamless wilderness experience. What gives with the Te Areoa?

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      Ah, New Zealand and the Te Araroa trail is complex. Land access and land rights are respected and access can be difficult but many forest sections have all the trails closed to prevent a non cureable disease from killing a rare and endemic tree. There are times when a hiking trail is not as important as the environment. The Appalachian Trail has lost its great Chestnut trees to a similar tree many years ago. Not to mention the rights of the indigenous Maori which most other trails don’t have to respect. A lot gives on the Te Araroa, it is a complex yet very young trail. Maybe in 10 years things will be smoother.

      Reply
  2. Saint Rick

    Good on ya for not skipping the road walks and aiming for a true thru. To my mind, when you start skipping sections the hike becomes relative and that messes around with me psychologically.

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      I agree with you but the Te Araroa trail is not like most trails and the hiker mentality is to only hike the trail sections and hitch the road walls. While it’s not for me I understand everyone else’s view on the trail

      Reply
  3. Marc Putzi

    I did TA in 2015/16 in 88 days. I walk every single step and didn’t like it in the beginning too. But finally it is a really world class hike, espacially the south island! Wish that I can do it once again one day…
    Have a good hike!
    Marc aka 10-Speed

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      Hey Marc, thanks for the comment. I’m looking forward to the south island. I’ve hiked a lot of it before. I doubt think I’ll finish the hike in 88 days. More like 120 days.

      Reply
  4. Nas Shannon

    I can’t speak for all NZer’s, but I’m not surprised you’ve only met two Kiwi’s so far. It’s the same with the Great Walks. They seem to be geared towards tourists.
    The TA is certainly on my bucket list but I think I’d stick to the South Island because of the amount of road/farm walking in the North Island. And there are just so many beautiful hikes in NZ, I would rather do those than walk down SH1! Each to their own though – It must be pretty cool to say you’ve done the whole thing.
    Most of the NZers I know who have done the trail have section hiked it so they can fit it around work and family so I imagine you will miss most of those people because they have more flexibility with their dates.
    If you go off the beaten track into the backcountry huts you’ll find a larger proportion of NZers. There are a lot of hidden gems that only the locals seem to know about. Tramping clubs and groups tend to avoid the popular trails in peak season.

    As for freedom camping, it used be all fun and games until a few campers ruined it for everyone. A lot of places just didn’t have the facilities to support so many freedom campers. I think people are generally pretty cool with it if you are self contained, or use the facilities and clean up after yourself. In Dunedin we have a few freedom camping areas with facilities and they seem to work really well. Of course we also have hundreds of DoC campsites which are cheap as chips ($6/night) which I would encourage people to use because it takes the pressure off areas that are not set up to accommodate lots of people.

    Reply
    • BikeHikeSafari

      Cheap as chips, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard that. I think the south island will be the real hiking experience I crave. I’ve most of the great walks before so always looking for the next trail.

      Reply

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