TE ARAROA: TIP TO TIP
October 2016 - April, 2017
It started with an idea. That idea quickly turned into months of meticulous planning. I had hundreds of questions, and there were limited answers out there. The Te Araroa was 4 years old, which meant a lot of uncertainty. It meant a small group of people who had actually done the trail. So I hunted down some of those people in hopes they could answer my questions. I found many of my answers, but still some were unknown. The biggest of which, and possibly the most important, was food.
I kept searching. I kept researching. I kept planning. As the months drew closer to weeks and the weeks to days, I hoped my preparations would be enough. I was set with NZ customs, I was set with NZ D.O.C. center, and I was as prepared as ever for myself.
(Just 3 weeks of food laid out!)
There is no way to really prepare for a 3,000km hike across a country. You can go on week long backpacking trips, be out in the wilderness for several days, or camp in your tent in your yard. But at the end of the day, there isn't a way to prepare for the distance you will cover, the bug bites, swollen feet, weight loss, blisters, exhaustion, frustration, and reward of a trip of this caliber.
You can just plan, prepare, and pursue your goal.
Hiking any big thru hike is an accomplishment. You don’t know what you will encounter, and everything you were envisioning or expecting is knocked out the window almost immediately. Weather affects how fast or slow you go, where you can sleep, and sometimes the route you take to get to your destination. Sometimes you take a wrong turn, and you end up hiking all day when you were planning on being done by 4pm. There are times you run out of food early, and have to ration, or you run out of water and hike miles and miles being extremely thirsty. Mentally & Physically, it’s more exhausting than you envisioned. But once you are on the trail, those hard days get easier and easier as time goes on. Suddenly you are hiking faster, and mentally you are prepared for new obstacles. Weather bothers you less and less, and you just accept the elements as part of the journey. A big through hike enables you to push past all your limits, expand you horizons, and grow as a person. In addition, you end up meeting an entire community of people who are similar to you. A group of people also willing to suffer through the elements, hike into the day not knowing what to expect, and who, without knowing it, will teach you more about living and loving life.
I learned that it’s important to be an enthusiast in life and in what you are doing. (Even if that means you are hiking through knee deep mud, weeks of rain or fields of tussock). If you are interested or motivated in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with open arms. Love it and cherish it. These moments, good and bad, only happen once. So it’s important to embrace life and these experiences straight on, your head thrown back with a giant smile, taking in everything around you.