Te Araroa: Stats, Budgeting, and Lingo
In one month, I’ll be on my way to New Zealand! In preparation for my thru-hike of the Te Araroa, I’ve done GOBS of research! Here’s a cumulation of what I’ve read/learned!
Te Araroa Stats
- Te Araroa means “The Long Path”
- At an average of 25 kms a day, the trail takes 120 days to walk – four months.
- The North Island route is just over 1,600 km long, and the South Island just under 1,400 km since its opening in December 2011.
- Most people usually start at Cape Reinga in October or November.
- A thru-tramp takes somewhere between 50-80 days per island.
- 50 days is quick and would need a high degree of fitness and some luck with the weather.
- 80 days is leisurely. This would give leeway to walk slower and for shorter distances on most days. It would allow you to build fitness levels en route, to extend town stays, and to allow greater margins for weather-related variables.
The trail continues to grow in popularity.
This is a little chart (click on chart to open in a new browser and improve readability) of the demographic spread of Te Araroa walkers in the current season, taken from registrations (posted by Dennis Stanton on the Te Araroa Facebook group page). Actual numbers will be higher than this as not everybody registers.
I have 137 days in New Zealand, so this thru-hike is going to be pushing it. I’m planning to hike NOBO since I’m starting late in the season. My plan is to finish at Cape Reinga towards the beginning of June, giving me roughly four months. If I’m able to follow through with this plan, I should (hopefully) avoid the beginning of the cold weather.
Te Araroa Budgeting
Unlike the AT or the PCT – or even the Ouachita Trail – the TA is very inconsistent with lodging. In order to stay in the backcountry huts, one must purchase either individual hut tickets or a 6-month hut pass. However, even with this pass, many nights are not spent close to a hut or a place where one is legally allowed to camp. In my preparation of Southland, I’ve already booked two Airbnbs, one camp spot at a Holiday Park, and a cabin.
Likewise, unlike the AT or the PCT, the TA is still undeveloped completely. There are a handful of sections that are difficult to navigate through – as well as places where one is walking through privately-owned farmland. Due to the lack of complete development, as well as the fact that the trail crosses two islands, the trail can be hiked all the way through… however, most choose to hitchhike, bus, bike, and kayak along with hiking. I’ve already purchased a bus ticket for a section that is notoriously difficult to traverse due to lack of signage. I’m also in contact with a company that hires out bikes.
We’ve covered the basics of lodging and transportation, which means we’re onto food! My research so far has been mainly on the South Island, since that’s where my hike will begin. I’ll hike through many towns on South Island – but not as many as I will on North Island – which means I’ll be eating out occasionally. I’ll also have the opportunity for resupply every 5-6 days max. Most resupply options will be 3-4 days at a time.
Finally, as an American flying into New Zealand, I have additional costs to take into account. My flight from the states, my visa, and supplies I’ll have to purchase in-country are expenses to include in my budget.
From everything I’ve read, if you wish to walk Te Araroa on a budget of less than NZD$8,000 then this walk may not be appropriate.
New Zealand Lingo
In my research, I’ve been learning a few new phrases! These are some that made me smile, so I wanted to share them here!
- Kia Ora – ‘hello’.
- Cheers, bro – ‘thanks friend’.
- Bugger! – exclaimed loudly after a less than positive event.
- Perrrrfect – the more south you go, the more r’s you add.
- Bird – the female of the human species.
- Bloke – a Bird’s male counterpart.
- Battler – someone who struggles with life.
- Scorcher – a very hot day.
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