North to South: 10 Things I wish I knew before I hiked the Te Araroa
10 things I wish I knew before I did the Te Araroa (or, 10 things I came to know walking the Te Araroa)
The Te Araroa is New Zealand's longest trail spanning the length of the two islands and 3000km. If you have ever considered doing it, learn from our mate Stefan Fairweathers adventure...
1. Your bag will feel heavier than you think it should, no matter what you have - or don't have - in it.
2. You will get bored of your own thoughts, and tired of your own company, but so will others and so conversations with strangers is the norm.
3. The expression "one too many pies" does not exist in the Te Araroa universe.
4. "Following the red line" is only for a select few. Be happy to deviate from the trail, to skip parts, or to cycle instead of walk.
5. Everything is temporary. The hard day today will be easy tomorrow. The rain will become sun. The high will become low. The low, high.
6. Be prepared to wait. The weather throws curve balls all the time and can ruin the best laid plans.
7. No-one cares that you were here. It should only matter to you. The last thing anybody wants to see is your name graffitied somewhere on a sign or hut wall.
8. Be prepared to buy more gear. I was surprised how quickly my shoes wore out and my socks got holes. Further Faster and can ship any where in NZ.
9. Look for the beauty everyday. It's all around, and sometimes in the most unassuming places.
10. Enjoy. You will never do this walk again.
The hike isn't all mountains.
We were so lucky to have our friend and all-round mountain man Stefan Fairweather come to the shop and give us the low down on completing a self-supported trip, the length of New Zealand.
What through hikers do to make life a little more comfortable, and re purpose old gear.
PLUS Stefan shared stories from his new book North to South. This is an award winning story all about his through hike on the Te Araroa.
Stefan, is originally from Hamilton. Hs interest in hiking started on Mt Pirongia with boy scouts more than 30 years ago. He joined the Junior Naturalist (not naturist) Club and had further tramping experiences near Kawhia and the Coromandel. It was a one-week camp on Mt Taranaki and numerous hikes back to this iconic national park during his years at Waikato University that gave him his thirst for the mountains. For several of his university summer holidays, he hitchhiked around the South Island, hiking in Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi, Westland, Arthur’s Pass and Mt Cook National Parks. After graduating with a degree in biology, he departed NZ for nine-years overseas. Mountains and hiking were often the inspiration to visit places and consequently he has been hiking in Morocco, Nepal, Slovakia, Malaysia, Canada, Poland, India, USA and Japan.
Since returning to NZ and embarking upon a medical career, he has continued his adventures in the mountains as much as he can, including leading adventures with other mountain loving folk.
The Te Araroa is Stefan’s first long distance hike (but not his last) and North to South is his first book. He works as a GP and lives in Christchurch with his wife and an anxious cat.