Twig Adventures

Te Araroa Summary

It has been almost 3 months since I finished Te Araroa, so I wanted to summarize my adventure with a few interesting facts and statistics from the hike. Dates: December 3rd, 2017–March 20, 2018 Total Days walking, paddling (4), or biking (2): 98 Zeros: 10 (5 due to Cyclones/extreme weather) Overall distance walked, paddled, or biked: Let’s just say about 3000 kms, which included about 800 kms of road walking and 170 kms of beach walking. I didn’t verify distances with GPS, nor did I go back to tally my daily distances according to the maps. It’s generally agreed that the published distances (via the TA Trust) are significantly under-calculated. So I probably walked a lot more. But I also[…]

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Postscript 4: Ball Pass, Aoraki/Mt. Cook…the Grandest of Finales

This long and picture-dense post details the 4-day zenith of my hiking adventures in New Zealand. My final route was a 26.8 km circuit over 2121 meter Ball Pass (actually, I climbed all the way up to 2222m/7290′ atop Kaitiaki Peak, my highpoint in NZ:). The weather was stunningly perfect for 3 full days and I got to soak up a lifetime of views of 3724m/12,218′ Mt. Cook, hereafter referred to as Aoraki, its more appropriate Maori name meaning ‘Cloud Piercer’ (because let’s face it, Cook was really just a pompous passerby). What a way to go out with a bang, leaving me to muse: Te Araroa what? Only kidding, this was just the icing on the cake. A grand[…]

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Postscript 3: Caples and Greenstone Tracks

March 26th, Glenorchy to McKellar Hut, 31 km walked March 27th, McKellar Hut to trailhead via Greenstone Track, then hitch back to Queenstown, 30 km walked. I stewed over my hiking options overnight and by the morning, had a completely different plan. Hearing the rain and wind on my tent all night definitely helped change my mind. Forget the Rees Valley and Cascade Saddle…it would probably be too windy and rainy for such an exposed hike. I would instead try to get a ride out to the Caples/Greenstone tracks and walk the 61 km loop over the next 2 days. These are not Great Walks, so the huts were covered by my Backcountry Hut Pass. And I really wanted to[…]

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Postscript 2: Routeburn Great Walk

March 24th, Kepler Track to Rainbow Flats 10 kms walked, hitch to Te Anau for resupply, hitch to the Divide, and onto the Routeburn for about 10 kms walked. March 25th,  finish Routeburn track to trailhead, then hitch to Glenorchy, 22.1 walked This post covers 2 days, so be forewarned, it’s a bit long! My first day back on the trails reinvigorated me so much, I was ready for more. I wonder if others yearn for more walking after just completing a long thru-hike? Well, this is New Zealand and I had to get as much out of it as time would allow. My plan was to jump from the last 10 kms on the Kepler Track right onto the[…]

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Postscript 1: Back on track on the Kepler Great Walk

March 23, Te Anau to 40 kms into Kepler Track I didn’t want to to end on such a sour note, when last I wrote about my final days on the Te Araroa. The good news is that I took 2 days off in Te Anau and recovered from my stomach illness.  It felt so good to get back on the trails, after this! I felt like I hit the reset button and crushed the distances on several easy Great Walks. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, It was a fun and interesting series of hitches from Invercargill to Te Anau. It took awhile getting a ride out of town, standing in a gloomy downpour, but eventually Charlie with[…]

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Day 108: The nail in the coffin for the Walking Dead

March 20th Invercargill (km3008) – Bluff (km3040), minus a final road-hitch Distance: 10mi/16km It’s strange how things turn out so differently from how you imagine them to be. I pictured walking into Bluff as a magical, sunny, tear-jerking, prideful, joyous event and it was none of those. Well, it was a tear-jerker but mostly I just felt numb. It rained all night but the day actually started out promising when I woke up with a bit of an appetite. My aches and pains from the fall were healing just fine but my stomach was a big unknown. I was able to eat some toast and drink some tea, but that was it. We all walked from the BnB down to[…]

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Day 107: The day the TA buried me

March 19th Riverton (km2976) – Invercargill (km3001) Distance: 15.5mi/25km I thought that my injuries from the day before might sideline me but it was my stomach that had the last laugh. I guess I can’t really blame the TA for my bad food choices, but it still felt like the trail was out to get me in the end. I woke up feeling surprised that I wasn’t more sore. Everything still hurt but at least I felt that I could walk. My stomach was already starting to cramp, though. I had a pretty light breakfast and then we all hit the trail. We had caught up to Klaus. He took a day off in Riverton and Gisella, his wife that[…]

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Day 106: The day the TA finally broke me

March 18th Ports Water Race Track (km2940) – Colac Bay (2965), hitch to Riverton (km2976), and minus 6 km shortcut. Distance: 11.9mi/19km Just 3 days from finishing and the TA finally takes its toll. I tried to get up early but the forest was still dark by 8 am. I didn’t get going until 9:15 am and the late start kind of made me feel in a hurry. I was walking a pretty fast but normal pace, thinking all the while that there were some really tricky spots to be careful of. The trail continued to be overgrown, muddy, and with lots of washouts and deadfall to negotiate. I even remember contemplating my foot placement going over all the logs,[…]

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Day 105: How it finishes is how it starts

March 17th Merriview private hut (km2904) – Ports Water Race Track (km2940) Distance: 22.4mi/36km Today was the coldest morning yet and I had a really hard time getting moving. At least it was clear and started warming up as soon as the sun rose over the hills…which wasn’t until 9 am. I could see my breath throughout most of the day. The route followed an easy forestry road up to the beginning of the Longwood Forest track. This is the last bit of climbing and forest on the trail, and is reminiscent of the forests in the north at the start of the TA. The trees are all covered in moss and it is very muddy. The trail soon broke[…]

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Day 104: A hut that’s got it all

March 16th Struan Flat Rd (km2878) – Merriview private hut, Merrivale (km2904) Distance: 16mi/26km It was a mixed-bag today, both in terms of the weather and the walking. It started out with spitting rain and a cold wind, but then cleared. It was another cold morning where I started with 3 layers on top and wearing my tights under my skirt. Winter is coming. We started on a gravel road and were aided by a farmer in an atv…he was eager to give us a ride for 1km, even though we weren’t looking for one. It’s always nice to chat with the local farmers when the opportunity arises. Then there was a fenceline walk through a eucalyptus forest, a farm[…]

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