At the end of the month I will be starting the South Island leg of the Te Araroa Trail. This time two years ago I had just started my North Island journey. I was 4 days into it, arriving in Ahipara with very sore feet and some serious sun burn. I remember the relief I felt finally walking off the beach after 101kms of hard sand under my feet, the unrelenting sun and wind and noise from the waves. It was the first section ticked off and a real boost to my confidence.
I remember all 70 days of the walk in great detail. I think it is a lot to do with how well I recorded it with photos and this blog which I have looked back over several times since then. I am so glad I did keep this blog and I plan to do the same for the South Island.
When I finished the North Island I was thinking I might have to complete the trail in smaller sections so I am not away from home for so long and I wasn’t sure my employer would allow me another 12 weeks off work any time soon. Then I ended up getting a new job in December last year so my chances became even slimmer. But I have never been interested in section hiking the TA. Its all or nothing for me. The question still remained though. How long will it be before I do get it done?
It was during lockdown that this all sparked up again. Katie suggested that it might be time to finish what I started, get to planning and make it happen. That’s all the encouragement I needed. It was all on.
So, long story short, I pitched the idea to my new employer who was surprisingly supportive and has approved my leave for 12 weeks. Much of that will be unpaid which adds a lot to the cost of it but thats ok.
I start the South Island leg on 29th December. This time I have some hiking companions. My dad and his partner Janeen. It is going to be great to have some company and people to share the experience with. My brother Scott is starting off with us for the first four days and doing the Queen Charlotte track.
So for the past several months I have again been training, planning and preparing. This time around the planning has come easier. I have done a bit less training but still plenty and I know I am fit enough and ready to go now. I have replaced a lot of my gear. A new pack which is way more comfortable and will handle heavier loads better. New boots and clothing of course. A slightly warmer sleeping bag. New walking poles. Dry sacks are a new addition. There are lots of river crossings in the South Island. We have also completed a river safety course in preparation for this. That was well worth the trip to Karangahake Gorge last month.
I have spent hours reading through all the trail notes and studying the maps. I am aiming for around 65 days but could easily become 70 if more rest days are required or if the weather holds us up in places. I hope it doesn’t take too much longer as I won’t be seeing the family at all along the way this time. It is the best motivation though to push hard on those real tough days in order to stick to the schedule.
We are flying down to Wellington on the 28th and catching the Interislander across to Picton the same day. The next morning we catch a water taxi up to the trail head at Ship Cove and thats where we set off. Only 21 days to go!