New Zealand Loves Mud

Chocolate Inspiration

We meet a chocolatier who gives us this advice: never quit on a bad day. He also gives us free chocolate, which highlights a pleasant stay in Auckland.

I think about that advice as I look back on the first month of being on trail. I’ve thought about quitting more often than I’d like to admit, especially in the early days. Now, I feel my body getting stronger, my muscles adapting to the weight of the pack and the long stretches of kilometers. Blisters persist but new socks and shoes give me more confidence on this rugged trail. The friendships fuse through hardships and joyful moments.

A short break

We spend some days off trail for Christmas, reuniting with our German friends on a mini road trip that delivers hot pools, waterfalls, and a midnight skinny dip. We celebrate Christmas Day back on trail with some rain that kicks off a long week of muddy feet.

A beer for the road

A friend of a friend welcomes us into her home, where we watch horses and I say goodbye to my first pair of shoes. She gives us vegetables from her garden and introduces us to a curious foal. We then march into Hamilton on a fifteen-hour day that ends with beers on the side of the road.

We are forever muddy

We spend two days in knee deep mud, summiting a mountain in the rain before sliding down the next day in swampy pools that paint my legs and shoes black with muck. We laugh our way through the slog of getting up and down, which only makes us clumsier. The adventure of it overshadows the constant falling and slipping, but we’re glad for the rushing stream at the bottom to wash off the days’ mess.

A soggy NYE

A 35-kilometer hike into Waitomo is cut short by torrential rain and rising rivers. We find a miracle trail angel who gives us a ride into town and spend the afternoon with the now luxurious act of doing laundry. It’s New Year’s Eve, and two jugs of beer send us all piled into bed early to watch Auckland’s fireworks on a tiny phone screen. It’s a humble celebration, but we’re happy for a roof and good company.

New year, same mud

We kick off 2024 with a beautiful day in the rolling hills of Waitomo. The views remind me of long summers in the Wisconsin countryside, full of tall grass grazing cattle.

The next day is an unexpected rest day after a tough week, and we take the opportunity to hike without our packs and do some New Year’s shots along the way. There is so much to plan, and we gather around a trail angel’s garage to see what comes next.

Yelling timber

One thing is certain: we are tired of wet feet. My skin is often papery and plagued with new blisters that feel like razor blades between my toes. The TA is unforgiving in this nature, as one will often find muddy sections on even the sunniest of days. It slows our pace and tests our patience, so we’re excited to embark on the next section by bike: the Timber Trail.

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Comments 1

  • Michal : Jan 3rd

    Yay! You’re living so much memories 🙂


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