Along the Trail, I started to use my GoPro more and more often. I used it as another camera when I thought the image quality or the wide lens would be more adequate for the scene I was capturing. I used it as an alternative travel journal, recording myself talking about how I felt and what I experienced. I used it to remember moments, people, landscapes; to show Life on the Trail from a different point of view.
I wish I could show you what I actually have inside my head an heart when I think of The Trail, but it is impossible, so I’ve put together some videos. Each video relates my experience of each region the Trail go through (two regions together for some of them).
Let me take you on an adventure. Let’s walk the Length of New Zealand.
Along the notorious Ninety Mile Beach, through muddy forests or Kauri sanctuaries, along the stunning eastern shore and its beautiful coastline, this video takes us from Cape Reinga to Te Arai Beach.
From Te Arai Beach to Mercer, the Trail takes us through the Dome Forest all the way to the North Shore and through town (sorry I didn’t use my goPro in downtown Auckland), by the airport and on those neverending tar-sealed roads through Manukau to reach the beautiful Hunua range, and finally to Mercer … a lot of road walking on this part: a challenge for the body and the mind.
Waikato/King Country Region
With the Auckland milestone behind, tackling the Waikato Region feels like another challenge, with the next milestone in view a few hundreds kilometers beyond: the Wanganui River. The North Island hides some beauty I had never heard of before setting out on the Trail. The Hakarimata Range and its neverending stairs, the Mangaokewa River, and my favourite in this region, the stunning Pureora Forest. We hit there the first huts on the Te Araroa. I didn’t record all the different sections of this region, but hopefully this video will remind you of the good and the bad of the Trail … with the notorious Pirongia Traverse and its muddy Hihikiwi track …
This region is a bit of a special one to me when I think back about the Trail… The Tongariro Traverse and its breathtaking volcanic landscape, with a side trip to the top of the powerful Mt Ngauruhoe was a fantastic experience, and something I could do over and over without ever getting tired of. The Te Araroa layout makes hikers swap shoes for paddle to go down the Wanganui River, a three days trip from Mangapurua Landing to Pipiriki. I was extremely lucky to team up with a bunch of wonderful people who decided to do the whole length of the River. So instead of 3 days, we had a mind blowing 7 days on the River, from Taumarunui to Whanganui. Enjoy!
Manawatu – Wellington Regions This video shows the Manawatu and Wellington regions together. After the epic trip down the Wanganui river, it was time to be back on foot for the rest of the Trail. However, the next section started with over 100Km of tar-sealed road, between Whanganui and Palmerston North. I didn’t walk the Trail with a purist approach, wanting to actually walk every single step of the way. I admit I did skip some parts in the North Island … but my mind did change when I got to Whanganui, and from there on I didn’t want to skip a single inch of the Trail anymore. But this long stretch of road was scary. Tar-sealed surface had been the cause of numerous physical pain, some which made me doubt my ability to actually finish the Trail… So, with 3 other hiker friends, we found an alternative. We were not going to skip that section, but we were not going to risk our physical integrity either. We were going to do it on BICYCLES!!! The bike ride was an fantastic experience. And then came the Tararuas. The first high mountains on the Te Araroa. Unpredictible weather, steep slopes, thin ridgelines, dense forests and stunning peaks… this video doesn’t really do justice to the thrilling beauty of the place …. And finally, we reached Wellington and the southernmost point of the North Island …. an wonderful achievement. but not the end.
The Queen Charlotte Track with its sometimes deafening cicadas, the pure water of the Pelorus River, the Richmond Range with the majestic Mt Rintoul, the unique Red Hills, the wild Travers River, the breathtaking and magical Blue Lake, and of course, the Mighty Waiau Pass... all those names resonate in me and strike a chord. The Te Araroa follows the most beautiful route through the Nelson/Marlborough region and this section holds a special place in my heart. I completely fell in love with this part of the Trail. This video is slightly different from the others, a bit longer and with more landscape footage, and hopefully shows the surreal beauty of the place. It’s Wild, it’s Rugged, it’s absolutely Stunning … Come walk through my favourite part of the Te Araroa.
The magic of the Te Araroa continues on through this section of the Trail. The landscape changes dramatically and we go from lush beech forests and wild rivers while crossing the Main Divide twice, to the dry and barren High Country and its musterers huts… The large braided Rakaia and Rangitata rivers are natural obstacles for the thru-hikers, but I am very lucky to have a long dry spell of weather that allows me to safely cross the latter. The highest point ot the Trail is reached at Stag Saddle, and it is then turquoise lakes and the magestic Mt Cook that reward us of the most beautiful views along the way… I hope this video brings you a little bit of the high this section of the Trail gave me … Pure Magic.
This video combine the two regions Otago and Southland together. The last 500Km… From the breathtaking view from the top of Breast Hill, to the easy walk along the Clutha River to the Wanaka lakeshore, and up and over the demanding Motatapu Track, to finally ease up again along the Mavora Lakes … the Otago region provides a varied range of tramps and stunning landscapes… And then comes Southland … The Last leg of the Journey… through the eerie Takitipu Forest, up Bald Hill, the last high point of the trail, and through Longwood forest with the rustic Martin’s Hut, you almost want to stop and stay there for a while… just to make it last a little longer. Finally you reach the coast and it ends as it started… on the beach. You can smell the finish line in the ocean breeze… Suddenly you reach Bluff, the signpost at Stirling Point… There is no more Trail to walk… What an adventure… Let me take you on the last stretch of Trail of the Te Araroa…