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Te Araroa – Wanganui to Palmerston North

or from paddle to pedal ….

It’s a hot day, the sun is shining bright and the wind feels good in my hair as I zip down the hill on State Highway 3, holding on tight to the handlebar of my bicycle, swallowing the kilometers as a …

wait a minute…

zipping down the hill? a bicycle?

Let me explain.

Eef, P-J, Jörg and I rented some bikes to do the part of the Trail between Wanganui and Palmerston North. It took us 2 days, following the extract route of the Trail (except for the Turakina beach where we took a forestry road) and spending a night in Bulls. (where everything is named in bulls) and I must say that cycling a part of the Trail was quite memorabulls.

The company Whanganui Tours, normally hiring bikes to people who just want to ride around town or do the Wanganui River road, happily went out of their way to answer to our request. And I must say that for $55 a day, I was myself very happy to pay some money in order to be a bit more gentle on my body… Because if you take a look at the Te Araroa Maps (you can download them here), you’ll notice that the part between Wanganui and Palmerston North is pretty much just roads… and as I have said before, tar-sealed roads are hard on the body.

Now, you must know if you have been following a bit my adventures, that have at times hitchhiked some of those road parts. At the beginning, I felt absolutely at ease with doing it, considering it was just a few kilometers here and there, and most of the time to spare my body from some certain pain. Until Hamilton it was just fine for me. Then there was Pirongia, when Craig the trucker picked Patrick and I up in the pouring rain, and we ended up in Waitomo, missing a huge part in between. Then again, when we got a ride to the beginning of the Pureora forest… or finally when I hitch from Taumarunui to Owhango, by fear of making the pain in my shins worse… and in addition of all that, this blog post from Andrew (I’ll let you read it here)… where he talks about, in his usual very well written style, how you give of yourself to get something back.

So all this to say that, by the time I got to Wanganui, I didn’t want to walk that much tar-sealed roads, but it was out of the question to skip it either.

So the solution was to hire a bike. The kilometers are done quicker and the body doesn’t suffer as much, but I still feel good about doing the Te Araroa Trail on the only power of my muscles. and this is how I end up zipping down the hill on my bike, swallowing kilometers as a hungry hiker swallows a bowl of noodles.

And from here on, I will not hitchike anymore. As Andrew had said in his blog, you give of yourself to get something back…. and being a thru-hiker is about walking the length of the country… no matter how the trail is, you walk it… I thought (a bit late but as a saying goes, “only idiots never change their minds”), that by skipping the roads, I was just being a hiker walking some trails of NZ, instead of a thru-hiker, walking the whole country…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel bad about what I did. This is how the trail has been unfolding for me, and everybit of it has been great so far. But from now, I want to walk every step, to give of myself and to really be a thru-hiker.

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