What to Pack for Te Araroa: Gear 101
With every thru-hike comes new and unique challenges. New Zealand’s Te Araroa is a trek like no other and it’s important to know what gear is essential and what should be left behind.
Te Araroa (TA) stretches 3,000km (1,850mi) from north to south across New Zealand (NZ). This trek is unlike the popular national scenic trails of North America and the gear needed (and available brands) will differ somewhat. Having thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, I figured Te Araroa would be no problem. I did end up using most of the same gear, however, there were a few major changes to my list and tips I learned along the way. For the most in depth look at my TA gear list, check out the video below:What to Pack for Te Araroa Video
Gear Brands and Cost
To start, I recommend purchasing as much gear as possible before traveling to NZ. The brands and gear available in NZ is limited. Most of the popular U.S. brands are not sold in the country or are expensive to ship. I found it difficult to find some of the U.S. brands I prefer when in NZ and was left with few options. Macpac and Kathmandu are the two biggest names in the outdoor retail industry down under but I found them to be expensive, especially Kathmandu. Also, some of the gear isn’t quite meant for the rigors of thru-hiking, as one store employee put it. Bring as much gear as you can into the country but be aware, if anything fails, you may be out of luck finding a replacement.
Like the AT, there is an extensive hut system in NZ that is available for TA walkers. On the South Island, you could get away with hiking without a tent if you’re lucky. Shelters do fill up and some are very small (2 persons) or quite old (and some brand new). I do not recommend hiking without a tent and make sure it is NOT a hammock tent. There are many areas on the trail with no trees in sight or the trees available are very thin or too close together.
I hiked over 700 miles of the AT in waterproof hiking boots but this would have been a disaster on TA. Non-waterproof shoes are a must on TA as you will be crossing countless rivers and estuaries, sometimes waist deep in water. You want footwear that will dry out quickly. New Zealand is a temperate rainforest and you will be wet quite often.
As with any foreign country, food in NZ differs from brands of other nations. In NZ, the sizes tend to be smaller than what I am used to in America. Most of my favorite brands were not available. On the AT I indulged in Cheez-Its, Fritos, Clif Bars, and more. In NZ they don’t even sell Cheez-Its and Clif Bars are expensive! I only came across one or two brands of dehydrated hiker meals and there was no guarantee the grocery stores would be selling them, not to mention the price. You can forget about Knorr sides. However, the classic ramen noodles are widely available. I found my diet consisted mainly of ramen bombs, peanut butter and Nutella wraps, and cheese.
The major grocery stores in NZ are New World, Countdown, and Pak N Save. In the bulk foods area they all provide small plastic bags for trail mix and nuts, etc. They are decently strong zip-lock bags and it’s worth it to take a few empty bags with you. I used these bags for everything from holding my rubbish to acting as a wallet to keeping my electronics and toiletries sorted and dry.
If you plan on packing a stove, remember to purchase your fuel in New Zealand. You can’t take fuel on an airplane.
In NZ mosquitoes aren’t a major concern but they do exist. However, sand flies are your worst nightmare. Like the black flies of Vermont, sand flies suck on your blood and no matter how many you kill there are always more. The good news is that sand flies cannot keep up with a walking pace. The moment you stop moving or start to set up your tent, they will find you. They are a menace. Pack some insect repellent.
There is a hole in the ozone layer above New Zealand and the country has one of the highest rates of skin cancer. Sunscreen (and sunglasses) are a must!
Te Araroa App
Not throwing any shade on Guthook but the Te Araroa Trust has created their own trail guide app. The app features all of the trail notes, GPS map, and more. I did not pay for Guthook and used the official TA app for my hike and it worked out just fine. Save your money for Tim Tams!
Hostels and Campgrounds
Along the trail I stayed at numerous private campgrounds and hostels. On the AT I found many hiker hostels provided amenities such as towels, soap, shampoo, free laundry, and more. This is very rare in NZ. Pack your own soap and towel for TA and be prepared to pay for laundry and even showers at campgrounds and hostels.
Keep in mind the electrical outlets are different in NZ and also 240 volt. Pack an adapter and make sure your electronics can handle the higher voltage or get yourself a converter as well.
These are my recommendations for TA gear but choose whatever works for you. Hopefully when the pandemic subsides and the borders are open once more you can head on down to New Zealand and walk Te Araroa! For a comprehensive look at what I packed for TA, check out my complete gear list. And for more on my TA hike, take a look at my complete trail journal and video blog.
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