1 month until we start our long distance hike in New Zealand. We’re in the middle of our last preparations for the Te Araroa Trail. So how do we feel? What do we do? What’s on our mind?
One more chapter
Since we’ve been travelling for almost 1,5 years now, going to New Zealand marks one more chapter after Europe, South East Asia and Australia. And it most probably will be the last chapter of this travel episode, because … well, because we will run out of money.
We’ve gradually been saving money since we started earning some, more than ten years ago. We spent most of it on a seven months trip to New Zealand in 2009. Afterwards, we started putting money aside again, until at one point (I think it was about two years ago now) we decided to spend it all for travelling once more. And so we set off in April 2014, without a proper plan, route or an idea about when (or if) we would go back to Switzerland.
We thought about earning money while being abroad, but could never really commit ourselves to the idea. We weren’t shy of working, though. Building and maintaining this blog took and still takes us many (unpaid) hours and we also worked for food and accommodation at a couple of places (helpX in Sweden, Finland, Australia).
So thanks to these opportunities, to travelling slowly and keeping track of our expenses, we were able to stick to a budget of ca. USD/CHF 30.00 per day per person. No matter where we travelled, being it Iceland, Turkey, Vietnam or Australia. We didn’t plan our travel destinations or the duration of our trip with this budget (we didn’t plan more than a couple of days or weeks ahead). But after a while we found out that this amount would allow us a (for us) convenient level of comfort while still being a bit of an interesting challenge.
However, even when you don’t spend a lot of money, travelling without earning anything will still drain your account eventually. So being the responsible Swiss people that we are ;), we don’t want to be stuck in any place with just a few cents left in our pockets, but rather return and settle with enough money to get through a couple of weeks without having to work.
Long story short, after New Zealand there won’t be much money left. So we are going to head back home, start earning money again (to save it for our next trip 😉 ), and I’ll probably start studying again.
So that’s what’s going to happen after our hike on the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand. But first, yeah first we’re going to walk 3’000 kilometres through one of the most beautiful countries on earth.
Planning to walk through New Zealand
Hiking the Te Araroa Trail wasn’t a part of our (non-existent) travel plans when we left Switzerland. While we did know that we would love to return to New Zealand, we didn’t think about hiking the whole length of it. Well, we didn’t even know about the Te Araroa Trail, or the whole “long-distance-hiking-thing” for that matter, until the end of last year.
Subsequently, we started planning and organising the hike from on the road. Sometimes literally while driving on a road trip through Australia.
But that wasn’t ideal. Because preparing for a long-distance hike takes a lot of time and we needed a place to organise all the gear (we’re also making some ourselves). We were exhausted as well and needed a break from travelling, we decided to spend two months in Hobart on Tasmania (see main image).
So that’s where we are at the moment. Living a settled life between travel chapters, contemplating about the past months and planning about the future ones.
Filling the days
At the moment, many people ask us what we’re doing here all day long, not having to work and not spending days and days exploring Tasmania (we did part of that in March/April).
So here’s how we fill our days in Hobart:
We read. A lot. From Graphic Novels to books about mindfulness and meditation, ultra running, simplicity and tiny houses (love those!), about interesting personas, designing and Photoshop. Here’s a short list of some of the books that we buried our noses in:
- Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin
- 10% Happier by Dan Harris
- Born to run by Christopher McDougall
- Epileptic by David B.
- I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
- The Power of Mediation by Sharon Salzberg
- Eat & Run by Scott Jurek
- Simplexity by Jeffrey Kluger
- Tiny House Living – Ideas for Building & Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet by Ryan Mitchell
We watch DVDs. Probably even more in numbers than books. We love movies and kind of compensate for the months travelling by spending many evenings in bed watching DVDs. I guess we also try to take in every moment in a bed as so precious, knowing that we won’t sleep in beds that often on the trail.
These two things lead us to our second home in Hobart: the library. It’s the place where we get all the books and movies from, and also where we spend a couple of afternoons a week to use the WiFi to work on the blog, doing research for the trail, etc.
We also cook a lot. And bake. I love baking and having an oven is a luxury and opportunity I don’t want to leave unused.
Besides, we catch up with a couple of people we met when we came to Tasmania in March. It feels good to see people again, since that’s something you don’t normally do when travelling. You meet lots of people once, but never again. Being able to ask: “So what happened here since we left?” Feels nice 😉
Last preparations for the Te Araroa Trail
And of course, we spend hours and hours preparing for the hike and everything that goes with it. We order last pieces of equipment (and usually spend hours researching, before we actually order a piece), we sew and glue our own pieces of equipment, we weight our equipment, we contemplate about our choices of equipment, we update lists about our equipment. Lots of gear-talk about fabrics, weights, water resistance, warmth, etc.
Apart from dealing with the gear we read trail notes, download maps, try to figure out where to send food drops and where to store our superfluous travel gear during the hike, go for hikes in the surroundings of Hobart (and thereby test our trail runners), try to get our fitness back up to a reasonable level again, try to figure out the nutrition on the trail and keep dreaming about the simple life on the trail.
Is it enough?
Honestly, the whole organisation and preparation can get overwhelming at times. The checklists (yes, multiple) seem to get longer and longer. Or at least not shorter, as they should… So there are days when we feel we’re not getting anywhere with this, and we feel the time running through our fingers without getting anything done. We then try to focus on small tasks that we actually can tick off quickly and which give us the feeling of actually accomplishing something and getting closer to being prepared. Surely, you can never be fully prepared for such a big endeavour. So take it easy.
We dream of the life on the trail as a life without having to check off seemingly endless lists of to-do’s and without having to plan anything else than where do we sleep, what do we eat, how far do we walk. Oh, it sounds lovely.
So we keep dreaming about the coming days, but sometimes catch ourselves doubting. What if we romanticise the hole thing? What if we don’t like it at all? What if we get hurt? What if …
Well, we will figure it out. Thinking too much about such things isn’t doing any good. So with the long-distance hike on the Te Araroa Trail it’s like with a lot of things: Just get up and do it. Everything else will sort itself out. It will be all right.
So while we are greatly looking forward to the hike, we also are – to a healthy degree – a bit afraid. But looking back to the the point where we decided that we needed a break from travelling and to settle at one place for some time, we’re much better off now. We must say that back then we were not at all in the mood for the trail. We were exhausted. We had too many impressions in our minds, which needed to settle.
We need to take a break from time to time and wait until our souls have caught up with us. – Native American saying
But now we’re ready. Just one more month and we’re off to New Zealand, tackling 3’000 km on foot.
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