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.

“before”

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.

I just happened to be passing through Auckland at Thanksgiving and have a lot to be grateful for.
The trail is through swamp up into the Kapamahungas and muddy, moss covered Tawa on Mount Pirongia.
It's always best just to go straight through the mud as Floris does wearing his rain
I'm rescued by a trail angel after a 5-hour hike from the hut down Mount Pirongia in deep mud.
Under threatening thunder, the walk is in farmland, muddy bush and across a swollen stream.
The cavers from Kaitaia practice their technique for getting in (and out) of tight spots.
Waitomo is the perfect day for a "zero mile" rest day at the Hamilton Tomo Hut.
This long thru-hike is less a "walking holiday" than a full-time job.
Chairs awaiting campers at a bend in the river.
Wet farmland and the glorious Pehitawa forest is followed by a river sidling nightmare.
Out of Mangaokewa Reserve, Blissful is picked up by trail angels and learns how a farm works.
It's a long road walk through karst landscape including cone-shaped hills in brilliant green.
The Timber Trail is a hike/bike path through native podacarp forest saved by "tree sitters."
At Piropiro Flats, Blissful has two beers for brunch and crosses the trails's largest suspension bridge.
The Ongarue Spiral was built in 1914 and includes a tunnel and two trestle bridges.
It's easy walking past sheering and a cafe, where the gardener shares coffee and philosophy.
Rain is a constant companion on the Te Araroa causing anxiety until I learned to accept it.
It's a gorgeous country road to the Whakapapa where Blissful sees two rare whio.
On the steep, and deeply rutted Waione/Cokers Track Blissful accepts a ride with a trapper.
The weather is perfect for the spectacular volcanic Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Blissful awakens to a snow-covered Ruapehu and the storms don't hit until she's in town.
It's easy walking down with a view of the conical Mt Taranaki to the Retaruke Valley and camping.
It's a long road walk to the Blue Duck Station where canoes await at Wade's landing.
We learn to paddle rapids, repack our barrels and set off through cliffs, falls and see three bats.
From the Bridge to Nowhere, it's not far to a powhiri welcome at the Maori community, Tieke Kainga.
We paddled 3 sets of rapids including 50/50 which ejects half those who dare paddle through.
It's a day of rain and interesting cliffs to mysterious Hipango Park with oddly scattered long drops.
Good weather and good friends add up to one of the best birthdays in memory.
It's a short paddle into Whanganui where Blissful meets George and Rob, her 'guardian' trail angels.
It's road from Whanganui to Koitita beach, massive driftwood on black sand and a magical sunset.