A (real) beginner’s guide to Te Araroa

12 kilograms. That’s our goal weight for this crazy adventure. Mat and I each get 12 kilograms in which to try and cram everything we need for a 2-month hike down New Zealand’s South Island. Suddenly, 12 kilograms doesn’t seem that much, does it? I’ve travelled for two weeks to England with double that. But, to be fair, I wasn’t waking up every morning with just one item on my To Do list:


Two days after Christmas, Mat and I fly out to Wellington, grab a coffee, jump on a boat to Picton and start an epic 2-month walk southbound along Te Araroa.

The what, you ask?

Here are a few facts about this mysterious trail:

FACT 1: Te Araroa translates to “The Long Pathway”. Seasoned trampers call it “TA”.

FACT 2: TA is 3,000 kilometres long. For those who love a bit of pub trivia, that’s the same length as the Great Barrier Reef.

FACT 3: TA starts in Cape Reinga at the most northern point of the North Island and ends at Bluff on the southern point of the South Island. In other words, the length of New Zealand.

FACT 4: For an official trail, TA is pretty young – it’s only been around since about 1998.

FACT 5: It looks pretty awesome.

We know, we know… 3,000 kilometres in 60 days is a bit of a challenge. And even we aren’t so bold as to think we can cover 50km a day with no rest days. (Though Mat’s eyes did light up at the thought!). So we decided to walk “just” the South Island, a not-so-ridiculous-but-still-quite-epic 1,300 kilometres.*

We fly out on 27 December and return from Christchurch on 25 February. We’ve pressed pause on our jobs, left our apartment to Airbnb under the management of our good friend Maree, parked the Old Girl outside my mum and dad’s (and taught Dad how to take her for a regular drive), and – most distressing for me – shut down our MacBooks. Shudder.

Yep, we’re serious.

So serious in fact, that we spent three long hours this afternoon (hours that we probably could have enjoyed in a sunny beer garden with a glass of festive bubbles or puzzling over the picture on the next advent chocolate) sweating over what to pack.

Duct tape will be our saviour

Sprawled out across the floor were the contents of Kathmandu and Macpac (our preferred supplier of awesomeness). Everything is ultra-light. Everything has been tested at least once. And everything passed (with the exception of our navigation skills. My one fear is getting lost in the middle of New Zealand with only a puddle and dehydrated spag bowl for sustenance. Mat’s reassuring words for the past three months have been a not-so-reassuring “We’ll be okay”.)

We’ll learn as we go…

I’m not going to list the entire contents of our packs. Instead, we’ll send the FIRST postcard to the person who can correctly name the most items in our bags. The photos should give you a few clues 😉




*And chances are we won’t get halfway down if any of the following occur: snow, rain, earthquakes, crazy heatwaves, Mat getting distracted by other mountains we could climb…

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