If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.

Erica Jong

click here for Blissful’s updated gear list

click here to access the Te Araroa Trust official site which includes history, planning guide, trail notes, accommodations, closures, warnings, etc. as well as how to register and support the TA.


Te Araroa means “the long pathway” in Maori. Completed in 2011, it’s a 3000 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 me four to five months to finish.

Thus far in my “career” the furthest I 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.

The Te Araroa means "long pathway" in Maori. Blissful Hiker Alison Young walked it in 2018-19.
The Te Araroa is not a trail or even a “route.” It’s more of an idea.

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 was a change in scenery and routine, but also in how my life looked and felt because I hiked alone. Don’t worry. Richard followed my every step through the magic of GPS tracking and shared the final three weeks with me in this beautiful country. 

Thank you to Randy and Kathy McCarty for their generous contribution to the Te Araroa Trust and helping to support my – and many, many other’s – successful and safe journeys.

Oysters are farmed on log wooden piers in the Whangaroa Bay near Kaeo.
I take my first "zero day" near Kaeo and eat mussels, oysters and take a huge nap.
Legs like stilts on the Ninety-Mile Beach in the far, far north of New Zealand.
The start of the Te Araroa is a trial of sand, wind, rain and mud, but it's worth it.
A Māori pou whenua or
It's "easy tramping" all day to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and finally Pahia.
The tide pushed my kayak right up the gorgeous Waikare Estuary.
The trail is on water as I kayak up the beautiful Waikare Estuary.
The Papakauti stream is the trail through the magical Russell Forest, followed by road to Helena Bay.
It's straight up on a ridge with sensational views, then deep into steep up-and-down bush.
Crossing the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere at Whananaki, the trail is easy along beaches.
Millions of pipis and tuatuas give a lovely crunch to my step.
An easier day on a sprained ankle through the chest-deep Horahora River to Tidesong.
The birds, people, and sound of my feet through water, mud and sand were the hiking conversation.
A big climb takes me to a spectacular view from the Te Whara summit.
From Tidesong, it's a walk across the Taiharuru estuary to Ocean beach then up magnificent Bream Head.
It's 76 flights of stairs out of Peach Cove, then over foggy Mt. Lion to Smugglers Bay and Marsden Point.
Johnny has a sweet job as caretaker of Dragonspell way up on the ridge.
It's a beach walk with spectacular reflections, then up a steep hill to views from DragonSpell.
The alicoop and Blissful's shadow.
The views are astounding on the Mangawhai Cliffs, after a long road walk, Blissful camps on Pakiri Beach.
Tree fern fiddlehead in the Dome Forest.
From Pakiri beach, it's straight up into muddy bush and views from Mt Tamahunga before the Dome Forest.
It's "tramping track" through the Dome Forest, one boardwalk section of Kauri, and a long walk to Puhoi.
Stacked packs at the Puhoi Pub.
Blissful waits out the tides at the Puhoi Pub, then kayaks down the river to Wenderholm.
Omra tells me that my subconscious needed this long walk to sort out the
There is a lot of magic on a thru-hike when we have faith and juts let it happen.
The rocky section after Wenderholm that can only be crossed at low tide.
The tides must be timed to walk the beautiful rocky beach near Orewa, then it's road to Stillwater.
The beautiful rock spit near Dacre Point only crossable at low tide.
After water up to the navel in Okura Estuary, it's a beautiful walk down the North Shore to Auckland.
Absolutely exhausted from a month of walking, Blissful takes a well-deserved rest day, or "zero."
"Slackpacking" is section-backpacking while sleeping in the same place each night.
It's a rainy day for slackpacking up Maungakiecke and through Jellicoe Park to Manukau Bay.
The trail winds south through Ambury Park, reclaimed coastal wetlands and past the airport.
The trail is through soggy bottomland and over electric fenced farmland to Rangariri.
It's easy tramping to Huntly and a beautiful sculpture garden, then up steeply into the Hakarimata Range.
These roots were made for tripping.
The Hakarimatas is a muddy bushwalk to beautiful stairs, the Te Awa Cycleway and Hamilton.
It's farms, the cool Taitua Arboretum and finally Whatawhata, where the Backyard Bar allows camping.