Getting to the start of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand is not easy or cheap but a solution presented itself.
I arrived at Auckland airport mid afternoon. The quarantine section tried their hardest to find any hitch hiking bugs in my tent. My tent poles, tent pegs and shoes were also given the tick of approval. New Zealand has very strict quarantine laws regarding camping gear which I already knew so my equipment was cleaned prior to boarding the plane.
I exited immigration, which was a very quick and simple procedure and was greeted by Ross, a local Kiwi (that’s what new Zealanders are called – I wasn’t greeted by a flightless bird). Ross has been in contact with me on and off for several years. He offered to pick me up at the airport and take me to the start of the trail. A real trail angel.
The road trip started via a grocery store and outdoor store. With 4 days food, a local sim card for my phone and a gas canister, we were off.
Just after midnight we arrived at a campground at the most northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Rianga.
Day 1 begins. I bought way too much food, a typical rookie error that I have made at the start of every thru hike. My pack must have weighed 13kg (28lb). That’s a lot considering that my base weight minus food is 6kg (13lb).
The weather was very un New Zealand. Sunny and warm with not a breath of wind. And Cape Rianga was rather empty considering it’s a major tourist draw card being the most northern tip of the country.
It was after 9am when I said my goodbye to Ross. A great guy who went a long way out of his way to help me out. I’m humbled and honoured by his assistance. Alone I made way down from the headland to the string of beaches and rocky headlands. At 10am I stopped to take my 10am photo. For the whole of this hike I will be taking a photo at 10am wherever I am on the trail. Sometimes the scenery may be uninspiring, other times I might be resting, luckily, today at 10am the view was epic.
Not long after another Te Araroa trail hiker caught up to me. Jazzus, like Jesus but nothing like Jesus. We hiked together for the rest of the afternoon chatting about all things hiking.
Beaches followed by rocky headlands were our trail for the day. My ankles were sore, but not as sore as my hips which were not as sore as my back and shoulders. But it was my feet that really hurt the most. Why did I do zero hiking prior to going in a 3000km hike. My body was suffering but it’s likely that my stomach will suffer later due to the 4 ibuprofen that I took during the afternoon. This was not the gentle easy start I had planned.
Camp was right in the beach. The moon started to rise just as the sun was setting. So begins my antipodean summer.