Te Araroa, New Zealand – Oct-Mar, 2018—19

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

Mark Twain
I’ll begin walking New Zealand end-to-end this coming November on the Te Araroa.
I’ll begin walking New Zealand end-to-end this coming November.

My Granite Gear Crown 60 is named Olive Oyl.
Followers named my superbly designed, lightweight but rugged Granite Gear pack, Olive Oyl.
La Sportiva Akyra blend the best of a trail runner with that of a hiking boot.
Breathable, flexible, wicking and lightweight, La Sportiva is running shoe meets hiking boot.
Set up is a snap for my ultralight and rugged tarptent, named the"alicoop" by followers.
My Leki poles keep me upright in 80 mph gusts.
I swear by foldable, bomb-proof Leki trekking poles to keep me upright.
Balega is a Zulu word that means
Balega socks offer ease, agility and the fleet-footedness of a seasoned ultra trail runner.
At only three ounces, the Black Diamond Spot is a great little light with lots of functionality, if you can just remember how to turn it on and off.
The Black Diamond Spot is only 3 ounces with loads of functionality, but I can never remember the steps.
The
In Silent-Film-style, the Blissful Hiker sets the "alicoop" and finally crawls in for a little shut eye.
Does yoga cure all ailments? Probably not, but I feel so good that I believe yoga is a crucial addition to my life as a long distance backpacker.
The 26 strenuous and intense poses are one of the most effective workouts,both energizing and therapeutic.
I love my work as a classical music radio host, but I wanted to see what a long distance thru-hike would do to my body, mind and spirit so asked for a leave.
I love being a DJ, but wanted to experience a thru-hike before it was too late.
Olive Oyl, my Granite Gear pack that carried my home, my life, everything I needed on the Te Araroa.
The Blissful Hiker's packed weight for 5 months on the Te Araroa is under 15 pounds.
I had 25 ounces at a rolling boil in about four minutes.
I had 25 ounces at a rolling boil on my 3 ounce stove in about 4 minutes.
What I lack in experience, I make up with enthusiasm.
What I lack in experience, I make up with enthusiasm.
The Hammock Gear quilt looks like a prop from
A quilt opens beneath you and puts the down feathers on top. where you need them.
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself.
It's said that people fear public speaking - and looking ridiculous - more than death.
Walking is good for you.
Walking is good for you – and for the creative mind – as so many composers were fully aware of.
The great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wants us to be wanderers, “though not as a traveler to a final destination: for this destination does not exist.”
If you arrive at a final destination, it’s a sign that you’ve set your sights too low.
The Blissful Hiker packs her ultralight gear for New Zealand.
The Blissful Hiker Alison Young packs ultralight gear to ready to go to New Zealand.
It’s less 'seize the day' at this point then let it happen and be present while it does.
In late October, I said goodbye and set off for the other side of the world.
Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand
After 3 flights, and 36 hours of travel, I start the hike, falling asleep to crashing waves at Twilight.
Rain passes through at Scott Point above Ninety Mile Beach, a relentless expanse of sand walked for three solid days.
Following the stairs down from Scott Point, the Blissful Hiker begins the Ninety Mile Beach.
Spirula or Ram's horn shell on Ninety Mile Beach.
Awakened by wild horses, the Blissful Hiker heads back onto the long, lonely Ninety Mile Beach.
Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand
After 36 hours of travel, I arrived in New Zealand and started hiking right away.
Blow Carting near Ahipara.
On the final day walking the Ninety Mile Beach, the wind changes and brings blow carts my way.
Friend of a friend of a friend, Peter, holds up a manuka branch just before we enter the New Zealand bush.
Tuis, bell birds, roots and mud – the deepest I've seen in my entire life – in the Raetea Forest.
There's nothing like putting wet and muddy shoes on in the morning.
The mud continues until the bush abruptly ends at rolling hills headed toward more bush.
Kauri bark has a hammer-mark texture and continuously sheds its outer bark in large scales to prevent climbing or perching plants from gaining a permanent hold.
A long walk through the Puketi forest takes me past manuka honey bees and a kauri forest.
A welcome sign and snacks left by trail angels.
It's a long walk mostly on easy forest track and farm fields to Rainbow Falls and Kerikeri.

Today, my boss gave me the green light to take a personal leave of five months to take care of a little something that has been on my mind for the past several years: to walk one of the biggies.

While it would seem to make more sense to start with something close to home like the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest, my chunk of time away will be in the winter, and it’s only logical to track down summer – and prime backpacking season – where it happens during our cold months, on the other side of the earth.

I must have been playing a long song on Classical MPR when I stumbled upon this long trail. I was surfing the web looking up top hikes of the world and this newish hike – or tramp, as the Kiwis call it – popped up, piquing my curiosity.

Te Araroa means “the long pathway” in Maori. Completed in 2011, it’s a 3,000 kilometer trail extending from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the south. It traverses the entire country; beaches, forests, mountains, volcanoes and cities, and should likely take all the time I have planned to finish it.

The Te Araroa traverses the entire country; beaches, forests, mountains, volcanoes and cities, and should likely take all the time I have planned to finish it.
Part of the Te Araroa is by boat.

Thus far the furthest I’ve walked all at one time was the GR5, 450 miles over the spine of the Alps. While taking on that challenge I wondered if I was made of the right stuff to sustain a thru-hike of not just weeks, but months.

Aside from the logistical nightmare and the risk that I might not be missed at my place of employment, I hadn’t the faintest idea if I possessed the grit, the fortitude and determination, and the sheer pig-headedness to stick with a walk of 1,864 miles.

Over the ensuing years, I decided there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to go and do it. Keeping in mind the fact that I’m not getting any younger and my arthritic toes are continuing to protest, I made the decision to request a leave of absence, and put myself directly on the path of enormous change.

Sure, it will be a change in scenery and routine, but also in how my life looks and feels because I am going alone. Don’t worry! Richard will be following my every step through the magic of GPS tracking – and I’ll stay connected by blog. I certainly hope you’ll follow me. I might need emotional support along the way.

So right now I’m absolutely tingling with excitement for this rare opportunity even as I make lists of all that has to get done, including applying for a visitors visa on an extremely thorough application which requires proof I not only have the financial means to return home, but plan to do so!

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

Reader Comments

  1. How exciting! I have a friend, a world class marathoner who is native NZ. I expect she would be willing to give you any advice, etc. you might need. Let me know if you would like me to introduce you to her.

    Also, is the Camino de Santiago on your bucket list? Or have you already done it? I’m seriously considering finding 5 weeks to do it.

    1. You should do it! At the moment, I am focused on backpacking, but one day I will walk it too.

      And yes, I would very much like to meet your NZ friend! I am in the thick of planning now. all best and happy trails, alison

      1. Hello Alison, my name is Susie Woolley and my family grew up with the Rasch’s and Ann told my mother Laverne Dawson about you travelling to New Zealand. I was supposed to contact you much earlier than now, so apologies for leaving it so long. I have lived in NZ since 1989 and we live in Auckland. If we can help with transport, accommodation, etc… please let us know. We would love to meet you and assist in any way. I have only skimmed over your blog at the moment, but will take more time when off work tonight. You have done a lot of walking to some amazing places! Hope to hear from you soon. Best Regards, Susie.

        1. Hello Susie! And thanks so much for your lovely note! Ann and Hans were here just this past weekend. It was cold but all the leaves are in their brilliant fall colors now. I hope to arrive in Auckland by Nov 20? We’ll see how I manage 🙂 My email is alison@blissfulhiker.com See you and your beautiful country very soon!!

          1. YES! I feel SO lucky to have friends of family and friends of friends looking out for me to ensure I stay “blissful!”

  2. Holy crow… you leave on Saturday. Your last radio program for 5 months is tomorrow… We (the faithful listeners in “vacuumland”*** as one veteran CBC announcer used to refer to the radio audience) will miss you, but we’ll be with you in spirit, along with whatever musical companions you’re able to take on your iPhone. (The first three verses of “Ging heut’ Morgen übers Feld…” from Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer come to mind.)

    Wishing you all the best from just north of the 49th for an exhilharating and safe “journey of a lifetime” 🙂

    (*** no doubt a reference to the vacuum tubes in the transmitter)

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