Tramp [verb]: to walk long and far, hike, march or trudge. to wander about as a vagabond. to walk for sport or recreation
To some (okay, most), backpacking means schlepping everything you need on your back just so you can get to a campsite where you’ll sleep on the ground and be eaten alive by mosquitoes from eyebrow to ankle. To us, it is our lifeline. We feel most at peace and happiest when we are backpacking and living that simple life on the trail.
So it was bound to happen. It’s been 3 years since we thru hiked the AT. It’s high time we go on another long-distance hike. And while the US has tons of hikes on our bucket list, we are going international for this one.
On November 22, we are leaving for New Zealand and will be attempting to thru hike 1,864 miles from the northern tip of New Zealand (Cape Reigna) to the southern tip of New Zealand (Bluff) on the world’s newest long-distance hike, the Te Araroa Trail (Te Araroa literally means “the long trail” in Maori, the indigenous language of NZ). Our Visa allows us to stay until April 20 and we booked a one-way ticket!
This is actually our first time traveling internationally together, because I don’t count Niagara Falls. We leave on Nov. 22 from San Francisco and fly directly to Auckland, NZ, arriving on Nov. 24 (what happens to Nov. 23?). We’ll spend 2 days there organizing and overcoming jet lag, then hit the trail on Thanksgiving Day. So while you all are eating turkey and stuffing, we will be walking away the calories and beginning our 4 million steps.
The seed for the Te Araroa (TA) was actually planted during our 2011 southbound thru hike of the AT (to refresh your memory, this hike was 2,181 miles). At a shelter in NH, we met a BUNCH of northbounders, many of whom were international. There was this one girl from NZ. We got to talking with her because NZ was high on our “want to visit” list. She told us about the TA and that it would be officially open as a long-distance pathway on Dec. 3, 2011. We were hooked. In 2012, I read “Te Araroa: The New Zealand Trail – One Man Walks His Dream” by Geoff Chapple, the man who dreamed of a long-distance pathway in NZ and became the primary trail blazer, working on it for years and years to make it a reality. The trail is just starting to grow in popularity, with about 100 people setting out each year to hike the entire length.
What will we encounter? A hike is usually all about the wilderness, but this time, it’s about exploring the history of NZ, its Maori culture and becoming a Kiwi. The trail terrain is quite varied. It goes through 7 cities, farmland, spooky and jungle-like forests, across sandy beaches and coastlines, over high mountain passes, across raging rivers, on urban byways and of course, on same trails Frodo traveled. Lots of names of places we won’t be able to pronounce, nor spell. Most will be walked via foot, but there are times we will need to jump in a kayak or stick out our thumb. Wildlife is very different than what we’d find in America. Our biggest danger is being run over by a sheep (there are 9 sheep to every 1 human in NZ). Oh, and I guess I should point out that though you all will be enduring winter, we will be walking into spring and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
And that’s our short intro into a long walk. Please stay tuned for as we tell you about the amazing companies that are supporting us as we “tramp” through NZ.
As Bilbo Gaggins sings,
“The road goes ever on an on
Down from the door where it began,
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many path and errand meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”