What to buy and eat on the Te Araroa

Walking, sleeping, eating. The three pillars of a long-distance hike. In this article we give our attention to creature comforts and explain to you how and from what we got energy on the Te Araroa.

First off some details:

  • We ate vegetarian. Except for a few instances when we were guests and didn’t want to say no (“flexitarians”).
  • We paid attention not to exceed our budget and tried to keep our expenses low.
  • We made an effort to buy foods with a high caloric density in order to reduce the weight to carry. Thus, fresh fruits and vegetables stayed in the shelves.
  • We took food supplements (Centrum A-Z).
  • For the South Island we sent five parcels with food from Wellington. Read more about this in our route overview.


How much we bought

As you might have read in this blog post we spent NZD 3’134 (CHF 2’118) on our 114 days on the Te Araroa for food. Therefore, food was by far our biggest matter of expense. 

North Island
(67 days)
South Island
(47 days)
Oats 7,5 kg 9 kg 16,5 kg
Sultanas 5,1 kg 2,8 kg 7,9 kg
Desic. Coconut 1,7 kg 2 kg 3,7 kg
Muesli Bars 206 pieces 204 pieces 410 pieces
Nuts/Trail Mix 10,2 kg 3,7 kg 13,9 kg
Dates 3,8 kg 0,9 kg 4,7 kg
Wraps 140 pieces 138 pieces 278 pieces
Crackers 22 boxes
à 250-300g
12 boxes
à 250-300g
34 boxes
Cheese 8 kg 6,5 kg 14,5 kg
Peanut Butter 6 Jars à 375g 7 Jars à 375g 13 Jars
Couscous 4 kg 2 kg 6 kg
Noodles 46 packages 55 packages 101 packages
Mashed Potatoes (dry) 0,5 kg 1,6 kg 2,1 kg
Tomato Paste 1,5 kg 2 kg (dehydrated to 400g) 3,5 kg
Peas 1,3 kg 0,3 kg 1,6 kg
Pesto 0,6 kg 0 0,6 kg
Miso-Soup 36 packages 0 36 packages
Chocolate 1,3 kg 1,7 kg 3 kg
Cookies 3,8 kg 2,6 kg 6,4 kg

Dehydrated vegetables

Daily Menu on the Te Araroa

After a while we limited ourselves to the same dishes or different combinations of the same foods. For example, in the beginning we also tried lentils, but the cooking took too long and to soak it we admittedly were too lazy. The reduced variety simplified the planning and shopping immensely. And on a long-distance hike like the Te Araroa this saying applies more than ever:

Hunger is the best relish.

The amounts of food increased in the course of our hike. For example, in the beginning of the Te Araroa during the morning we only ate two bars, for lunch we spread our wraps only with peanut butter and ate our ration of crackers only with cheese.

However, on the South Island we scoffed three bars between breakfast and lunch and complemented the peanut butter with jelly and more cheese.

Our menu for the hiking days looked quite simple and for outsiders maybe also not very varied:


Porridge made from oats, sultanas, desiccated coconut, cinnamon, linseeds (or LSA = linseeds, sunflower seeds, almonds), sometimes sugar

(Soaking over night in old peanut butter jars, more about that here)

→ A spoon of jelly makes it a treat! 😉

Two to three Morning-Snacks

Muesli bars or nut bars (Nature Valley, Mother Earth, etc.)


Wraps or crackers

With peanut butter, jelly and cheese

→ Peanut-Butter-Jelly-Time! 😀

Two Afternoon-Snacks

Nut mix with almonds, cashews, peanuts, sultanas, dates, etc.

Or self-made nut/muesli-bars for the South Island


Roasted Honey-Peanuts or pretzels

→ To bridge the lack of energy before dinner or because the search for a suitable tent site took longer than expected…


Couscous, 3-min-noodles or mashed potatoes

With cheese, tomato paste, miso-soup, pea protein, dried peas or dehydrated vegetable mix (peas, carrots, corn), Italian mixed herbs, sometimes olive oil


Chocolate, cookies, liquorice or sesame-honey-crackers


Luchtime! Wraps with peanut butter and bananas

You can find more about our cooking methods and our cooking system in our article “Outdoor cooking – how, what and with what we cook while hiking”.

Supermarkets in New Zealand

We planned our sections on the Te Araroa in consideration of the supermarkets. More about that in the route overview.

You’ll find these supermarkets in New Zealand:

  • Pak’n’save (in bigger places only, low prices)
  • New World (standard supermarket)
  • Countdown (standard supermarket)
  • Four Square (smaller supermarket, expensive, variety for resupply not everywhere ideal)
  • Fresh Choice (very variable in size and prices)
  • Supervalue (small supermarket, expensive, variety for resupply not everywhere ideal)
  • Dairy (very small store, better for snacks than for resupply)

Repacking food after our resupply on the Te Araroa

Eating out on the Te Araroa

Because of our budget we limited our visits of restaurants during the Te Araroa despite the big hunger. We only counted 10 visits of restaurants (incl. Subways and take-aways) during the whole hike. Now and then we allowed ourselves smaller treats like ice cream or chips though.

On the North Island Trail Angels also invited us to meals in their homes a few times. This food naturally was the most delicious. 🙂


Special treat on the Te Araroa

Tipps for Groceries and Eating on the Te Araroa

  • Keep it simple!
  • Pay attention to the caloric density of food if you want to reduce the weight you carry.
  • Food is expensive in New Zealand. Buy in supermarkets with low prices (see above) and plan your sections accordingly.
  • You get a lot of taste by using Miso-soup or stock.
  • Use a cooking system that makes cooking easy for you. For example, I really don’t like cooking with liquid fuels.
  • Plan enough time to prepare food parcels for the South Island. To save costs for sending them, consider sending them from Picton on the South Island (it’s cheaper within the same island).

Swiss treats we got from our visiting friends

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  • Daniel says:

    Such great information, how do the food parcels work, where do you send them to?

  • Faye says:

    HI! Great information, thank you! Would you recommend bringing some pre-made meals from home? (ie not in NZ) To save time and energy and cost whilst in NZ?

    • Nadine says:

      Hi Faye. As we were in Australia prior to going to NZ there was not much difference in price. But you should compare prices on what you’d like to eat. E.g. if you like the ready made backcountry meals you’ll probably get them cheaper elsewhere. It also depends on your preferences of course. But also keep in mind that you might only be able to transport a certain amount into NZ and that they have restrictions when it comes to importing food. Check the details on the migration website. Hope this helps, cheers Nadine

  • julien says:

    Hey ! Thank you so much for all of those informations ! I’m packing my food boxes, and I just miss some dried vegetables, I can’t find any nice mix that can be cooked quick… Do you remember which one were you buying on the trail ? What brand or in which supermarket ? Thanks a lot !

    • Nadine says:

      Hey Julien, we bought the frozen vegetable mix with peas, carrots, etc. and dried it ourselves in a dehydrator. You should find such mixes in the frozen food section in almost all supermarkets, I’d say. Where you could look also is in the soup section, some stores might have some dried vegetables there.
      Enjoy the trail!

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