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Te Araroa Trail – the How and Why - Part #1 - THE WHY -

Te Araroa – New Zealand’s Trail – is a continuous 3,000 km walking track from Cape Reinga to

Bluff. I could try to give you a detailed description of it here, but if you want to know what it is about, I suggest you take a look at the official website, it will give you a much better description and history of the trail …

now, if you really want to know more about it … I suggest you stay tuned and read my blog as I am walking it … and the blogs of other hikers as well, so you’ll have an inside view of the TA.

If it is still not enough and you REALLY want to know everything about it … I suggest you come and do it … this will be the experience of a lifetime …

When I tell people I’m going to walk the length of New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail, after a few “you’re crazy” with raised eyebrows or some “that’s great! sounds like an awesome thing to do!” … one of the questions that come up the most is : “why are you doing it ?” …

and that, indeed, is a good question …

I am always tempted to just say “why? well … why not?” …. but that would le

ave the inquisitor frustrated, and make my approach to the trail sound rather trivial … So having to answer that question has pushed me to put a bit more thinking into this “why” aspect of it … because, the decision making, inside myself, was a long process that didn’t really have a exact begining and and exact reason why … things in my life have just unfolded a certain way and have led me to decide that this summer, I will walk the TA. … The “whys” are there of course, but deep inside and when needed to be spoken out loud, it requires a bit more thinking to be able to explain them … Everything starts with my love for hiking. And my love for hiking comes most likely from my childhood, growing up in a beautiful range of mountains in France, and going for walks with my family from an early age, in that very nice forest that I had the luck to have as, litteraly, my backyard… (thanks Mum and Dad )… but let’s not go back that far away … I discovered the Te Araroa while hiking in the Richmond Range, in January 2013. I was intrigued when reading the comments in the hut user book, and seeing all those people signing “TA hiker”. As soon as I got home, I looked up “Te Araroa”, and was over the moon when I learned it was possible to hike the length of New Zealand …

from that moment, the seed was planted in my brain …

In 2011, I accomplished the thru-hike (as they say in the States) of the John Muir Trail, from Yosemite National Park to the Summit of Mount Whitney, in California. I hiked for 18 days in pristine Wilderness, and if I had to label it, this adventure remains one of the best, if not THE best, experiences I’ve ever done in my life… and of course … when you taste something so good, you are eager for more … The John Muir Trail made me dream of the Pacific Crest Trail; reading the hilarious book “a walk in the woods” by Bill Bryson made me consider the Appalachian trail; … travelling to Colorado, Montana and Canada last year made my eyes spark at the sight of the Continental Divide Trail … but all of this was just like a faraway dream that went into the “maybe someday” category … The discovery of the Te Araroa had put my hope of another thru-hike into the “much more likely to happen” category …

Then it all started to make sense.

Some changes in my life gave me the need to focus on something big, something for myself, something to rebuild my confidence upon … and the freedom to do it. No more excuses. Why the TA and not a trail in the USA then? Because I’ve lived in NZ for a few years now, and getting ready for a thru-hike on my own is much easier and reassuring in a country I know. I know the land, I know the climate and how changing it can be, I know I can trust the people, and most of all, I have some amazing friends whom I know will be of help in case of hard times, and whom I will be able to share the best moments with. (even if I will walk on my own, I don’t really think I’ll feel alone). Also, I recently got granted my permanent resident visa, and this means a lot to me. I have felt a deep connection with this country from the moment I arrived, and this connection has been confirmed and strengthened during my time living here … I know the Visa is only a stamp in a passeport, and all in all hasn’t changed much the way I am living, but it represents the official acknowledgement of my sense of belonging to this country … So what best way of showing my own gratitude and love to New Zealand, than walking the length of it, taking my time to connect with the landscape, the culture and the people.

I could probably go on and write about so many others reasons “why”, but I will end this post by one of my favourite quotes that, to me, just says it all:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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