Tortured Hikers Department

The Mountains Await

The Tararuas prove to be a challenge of both the mind and body. It is a traverse stretched into six days due to one bit of nasty weather, but the mountains welcome us with rare sunshine and clear skies as we ridge walk to end of our north island journey.

This is the first time we’ve really experienced a hiker bubble. Many people we’ve met along the way seem to have gathered on this route, filling up the huts with both new and familiar faces. Our group loosens a little as we each go our own pace, some of us leaving at 3 AM to catch the sunrise while others live by the motto: checkout is at 10.

Did we pack enough food?

The first few days are relatively easy, and we are stunned by the gorgeous weather we’ve been gifted. However, warnings of high winds push us on the third day to get off the ridge, and three of us find ourselves stuck in a tiny hut for an unexpected off day as rain soaks the peaks around us.

It is a cramped, lazy day that I welcome while others dream of McDonalds and milkshakes. I meet a fabulous girl from Wisconsin and bond with her over the hopeless state of our Midwest feet. We sleep in and take in the views once the skies clear.

Crawling into town

Two more grueling days get us back into town, and I reflect on the hardships of these mountains that serve as a preview for what awaits us on the South Island. I brush aside moments of despair and defeat with good food and a warm bed, but the remaining kilometers feel more daunting than ever.

We spend the next few days slack packing towards the terminus, reaching Wellington with an insatiable hiker hunger and a readiness for a break in the city.

The end of an era

After filling up on cheeseburgers and civilization, tough goodbyes conclude our time in the North. One group member stays in Wellington while the rest of us board the ferry to Picton. It is then that I find myself standing alone for the first time in 2.5 months, feeling the empty spaces around me as my remaining group members go their separate ways.

I think about our time together, about how we were all solo travelers who just happened to meet on a beach one day before deciding to stick together for 1,715 kilometers. They were a constant presence in my life, always the first and last people I saw every day. I feel shaken without them, intimidated by the idea of being out on the trail alone.

Going south

I spend the weekend with a good friend, drinking and eating well before boarding yet another ferry that takes me to the start of the Queen Charlotte Track.

I push myself through three beautiful days of warm sun and gorgeous blue ocean water. I have most campsites to myself, and rediscover a sense of comfort with the silence of solitude. A possum encounter keeps me awake and a late night skinny dip amongst bioluminescence breathes life into my hike. Soon enough, I’ve completed the first section of the South Island and am reunited with one of my group members before we begin one of the most notorious parts of Te Araroa: the grueling Richmond Ranges.

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Comments 1

  • Michal : Feb 24th

    Grueling but enpowering in the long-term. I often find it difficult to enjoy hikes. But because I dont hike often. We are probably evolved to move around, so once we rediscover the expeditions (and enjoy them), we want to do it again and again.


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