5 things we’ve learnt 3 days into Te Araroa

Three days and 84km into the adventure, and we’ve learned a lot. We could tell you about the sandflies and how to keep your long trousers on even if it is a windy night. We could tell you about the excellent nutritional value of dehydrated meals, but warn you about how they will suck the water from your tongue so you have to get up out of your tent in the middle of the night and seek rain drops. We could tell you about the healing power of thongs/flip flops/ jandals after a long day pounding the trails. But we won’t …instead, here are five things every tramper should know. Hell, like a good Swiss Army knife, these lessons could be used anywhere:

1. Everything is worth it once you get into the shower.

Okay, we were only 2 days in but it was a tough day. 30km of “rolling hills” (i.e. Hills so steep they make your eyes water) and 10 hours of tramping with 15kg+ on your back…you get the idea. So when we saw the showers at Mistletoe Eco Village, we were ready to jump in. Trouble is, there was only one free, so Mat took the first round while Nicki got eaten alive by sandflies. But everything is worth it when you get into the shower.

2. Go down the hill and you will be “abundantly recompenced”

After Captain Cook had stuck his flag into Queen Charlotte Sound, he took a little walk up a big hill with his men. At the top of the hill (Kaitepeha) and saw a strait between the eastern and western seas (which they named Cook’s Strait). He wrote in his diary “I was abundantly recompenced for the trouble I had ascending the hill”. We know how he felt: we took a 1.5km detour down and up a hill for cider and muffins at Portage Resort Hotel before tackling the final of mountain of the day. We’re not expecting anyone to name anything after us though.

3. Never believe your track notes. The hills are always mountains.

Seriously, the guy writing the Te Araroa book (I mean you, Geoff Chapple) was definitely not paying attention when he made notes. Hills are not flat. By their very nature, they are hilly and tend in an upwardly and downwardly direction. Reference page 164, “the walk around to Camp Bay is mostly flat and coastal”. Wrong.

4. Duct tape can fix everything, except a broken heart.

We were kindly given a roll of duct tape for Christmas, which we weren’t sure if we’d use. Then we met three LA nurses on the boat across to Queen Charlotte Sound who told us duct tape will fix anything. So far we’ve only used it for Nicki’s left shoe. But we intend to make a list of all the things we use it for. World peace, maybe? Slow internet connections? Human trafficking? Bad coffee? Who knows…

5. If you think you’ve not packed enough, then you’ve packed too much. If you think you’ve packed just right, then you’ve packed too much. If you think you’ve packed too much, then…you’ve packed TOO MUCH. And if this is your first night at Fight Club, then you have to fight.

We packed too much. Things we’ve discarded so far include:

1x running top

1/2 book

1 x sun lotion

1 x holey socks

200ml camp stove fuel

1 x soap

6. When people say the mussels in Havelock are to die for, they ain’t lying. (Unlike Geoff Chapple)

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