Twig Adventures

Day 6: American Ninja Warrior in the Jungle

December 8th 580m summit at start of Raetea forest (km140.5)-Apple Dam Campsite (km174.5) Mileage: 21mi/34km Today was the day that the the forest got real. Mostly it was due to the mud but the steep climbs and overhanging vines were significant players. To start, the sunrise from my mountain top camp was really beautiful. About 20 minutes into the hike, I begin thinking of my tactics in terms of the popular TV show American Ninja Warrior. Usually one of the beginning obstacles involves a scramble across unstable stepping stones or a rolling log. Much of the forest today was this obstacle, except that the penalty for getting it wrong was a plunge into the mud rather than a clear pool[…]

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Day 5: Climbing to start and end

December 7th Herekino track trailhead (km109) to 580 summit at start of Raetea (km140.5) Mileage: 19.2mi/31km Aside from hearing cars drive by all night (because I was camped near a road), I was treated to a chorus of Moreporks. This is the New Zealand owl, named such because its call sounds like it is demanding: more pork! I was hoping to hear one, instead I heard about a dozen. I didn’t sleep very well because my mind began fixating on the variance in their calls. There was one that sounded like someone clearing their throught. I woke up early to a pheasant crowing and then flapping up into the air, doing a mating dance. I’ve spooked a few pheasants along[…]

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Day 4: In and out

December 6th Karaka Stream (km82)-Herekino track trailhead (km109) Mileage: 16.8mi/27km plus additional 2km running back to hostel. I slept the best I ever have amongst some trees with the faint sound of the surf as white noise. It is even more peaceful sleeping here, knowing there are no animals that can harm you. I woke to birdsong early. I was pleased to find absolutely no condensation on my tent. The previous 2 nights were dripping wet. Sight selection plays a huge role in this. It’s best to camp amongst pine trees. Grassy areas near water are the worst, even if they are inviting. I skipped my breakfast routine and instead walked the 5 km to the Holiday Park. The water[…]

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Day 3: Make it burn

December 5th Maunganui Bluff Campsite(km41)-Karaka Stream (km82) Mileage: 25.5mi/41km Wow, I just realized that I walked the same amount today that I did in the first 2 days! Well, Day 1 was really only a half or quarter day. But yeah, I was on a roll today. I started just before 7 a.m. and had already caught up to Catrin by 8. She had gotten up at 4 a.m. and was rewarded by seeing wild horses playing on the beach at sunrise. I had actually seen the horses roll through our camp when I woke up but her description of them galloping and rearing on the beach, with the full moon in the background, made me wish I had got[…]

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Day 2: Bring on the beach

December 4th Twighlight Beach campground (km12)-Maunganui Bluff Campsite (km41) Mileage: 18mi/29km It was the first full day of mostly beach walking on Ninety Mile Beach, a stretch of beach that is actually only 50mi/80km long. It feels like 90 miles when you have to walk it. I woke around 4am, still feeling the effects of jetlag, so I worked on my blog and enjoyed the sunrise/moonset. My abode for the next 4 months. I decided to take a lazy morning, figuring I would have plenty of time to make it the 29kms to The Bluff campsite, not to be confused with Bluff, the end of the trail over 3000 km away still. I chatted with Shannon, giving pointers on how[…]

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Day 1: The perfect start

December 3rd Cape Reinga Lighthouse(0)-Twighlight Beach campground (12km) Mileage: 7.5/12km All went according to plan today and my years of preparation have finally led to my reality…hiking the Te Araroa! The bus from Auckland departed on time at 7:30 am and I sat in the front seat to get a good view and avoid getting motion sickness. I chated with a nice kiwi man sitting next to me who was one of the bus drivers, getting a ride back. Along the way, I checked my GPS to find that we were currently driving a part of route! I told the driver to look for me as I was walking the road in this section in a few weeks. I think[…]

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Day 0: Auckland bonus

I didn’t want to stay in the hostel all afternoon, knowing I would just get really tired and want to go to bed early, futher putting me off this new schedule. What’s a great cure for jet lag? Walking! How convenient that the TA goes right through the city, following the urban and historic Coast to Coast path. The isthmus here is only 9 km wide (narrowest part of the country), thus possible to walk from one harbor to the other in one day. I didn’t figure I’d make it the whole way but why not knock out a few kms, especially during such gorgeous weather. What a great idea a little bit of slackpacking turned out to be. There[…]

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Travel Day!

Well, it’s finally time to get this journey started! My stomach is in knots knowing all the steps involved in just getting to the trailhead. I have a 3hr connecting flight from Miami to Houston this afternoon, then a 15hr! flight to Auckland. Through the miracle of air travel, Friday Dec 1st will cease to exist for me, since we’re passing over the date-line. The flight arrives at 6 am Saturday, Dec 2nd. Talk about a red-eye! In my previous travels to NZ, I was flying from/to Hawaii and the 8hr flights weren’t near as bad. This will be my longest commercial flight yet (not including a trip on the Copenhagen-New London Coast Guard Express: 24 hrs on a very[…]

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Final preps…frontloading

As much effort that has gone into reducing the weight of my gear, I have spent the past week countering these efforts by stuffing myself with holiday food! I’m calling it frontloading. Not surprisingly, thru-hiking is an excellent way to burn calories and loose weight. Estimates put a day’s worth of hiking (about 20 miles for me, depending on the terrain) to be worth about 5000 calories. It’s nearly impossible to find the time to eat that much, let alone carry it. Thus, calorie deficits result. While not intending to, I lost nearly 10lbs in just 1 month thru-hiking the Colorado Trail this summer. For me, already being a bit of a twig, that is a lot of weight. I[…]

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Why I am hiking the Te Araroa

Te Araroa has been a dream of mine for 4 years. I have wanted to do a long-distance thru-hike for even longer. So why the TA, when there are so many great options in the USA, both logistically easier and closer to home? Well, quite simply, New Zealand is where I first refined and expanded my backpacking skills, and I want to bring it full circle in completing my first big thru-hike there. I’m not a newbie, not to NZ nor to backpacking. My resume goes back almost 20 years, starting with short overnight trips, then 4-5 days, and most recently, a full month to complete the Colorado Trail (500 miles). I’ve backpacked many other places including Hawaii, California, Florida,[…]

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