Te Araroa Trail Days 33-41: “1’000 Kilometres and the Fairy Tale Forest”

In the past 9 days we hiked from Hamilton to Taumarunui and covered 205.5 kilometres on the Te Araroa Trail.

Total TA kilometres: 1056 kilometres (according to maps)

Best moment

Philippe: 1’000 kilometres and Pureora Forest

Nadine: 1’000 kilometrest and Pureora Forest

Worst moment

Philippe: Shoulder and hip pain

Nadine: when my sleeping pad “imploded”

Please note: The stated kilometres are approximate. The hiking times are pure walking times, without breaks. On average we take 1,5 – 2 hours breaks during the day. The smiley’s describe our mental, the muscle arm our physical state. 10/10 is the best.

You find our actual pictures from the trail on Instagram.

Day 33: Hamilton (Zero Day)

0 kilometres

Philippe

😄😐😣: 9/10

💪: 9/10

We spent an usual Zero Day in Hamilton with blogging, washing, feasting on fresh food and not enough time with doing nothing. And additionalit was a very nice day with deep blue sky and 23°C. Almost too warm 😁

Nadine

😄😐😣: 8/10

💪: 9/10

Mmmh, freshly washed clothes! Our shirts had crusts of salt from the last days and we never managed to be able to wash all the dirt from our socks with hand washing. Laundry, a bed and food, food, food…

Zero Days are a great thing, even though we were bustling around, like always.

Day 34: Hamilton to Kaniwhaniwha Stream Campsite

40 kilometres, 8h40min

Philippe

😄😐😣: 8/10

💪: 7/10

On the Te Araroa we experience many different terrains but the route through a shopping mall in Hamilton was quite bizarre. And the 15 metre high Christmas tree wasn’t any help either.

Because there was rain forecasted in the afternoon we brought the kilometres out of Hamilton behind us quickly. Exactly during the most exposed part over the Kapamahunga Range the rain started. Nevertheless, I liked this part over a sheep paddock the most. The grassy and partially rocky hills reminded me of the alpine fields in Switzerland and the views weren’t bad despite the rain.

With 40 kilometres it’s been the longest distance in a day so far. We wanted to reach the Kaniwhaniwha Stream Campsite in any case, where there are pit toilets and water from a stream. My feet weren’t happy about that. But the campspot was protected and rather dry in the woods. Tomorrow we do the Pirongia traverse, which supposedly is worse than the Raetea Forest. Horray!

Nadine

😄😐😣: 9/10

💪: 9/10

A long but otherwise unspectacular day, in the afternoon also rainy…

Nevertheless I felt great and my feet didn’t hurt as they had before, even after 40 kilometres (longest distance so far). My highlight of today was to put on warm dry bed socks. Sweet as!

Te-Araroa-33-41-6

Day 35: Kaniwhaniwha Stream Campsite to Te Rauamoa Rd. (after Pirongia Forest)

20,5 kilometres, 7h45min

Philippe

😄😐😣: 9/10

💪: 8/10

Less stiff than expected (after 40 kilometres yesterday) we started the Pirongia Traverse. Ominous pictures and stories on Facebook were in my mind: “Worse than Raetea Forest!”

We had to climb up to 959m. Three quarters of the route to the Pirongia summit were surprisingly well walkable (for a Kiwi tramping track). But then the Te Araroa stroke back and disolved all our hopes in the mud. We were back in the mud hell.

After 3,5 hours we reached our first DOC hut and had lunch. Brand new it was with luxurious amenities like washing stations and water taps inside the hut. We took an extensive break and left the dry hut heavy-heartedly.

And then again: mud, mud, mud. But somehow it wasn’t too bad at all. Mentally it was no problem. My good mood was actually a bit suspect to me. While I was struggling with calf-deep mud holes and was sliding through the bog I had fun.

After 3 hours it was physically more than enough, though. We washed ourselves in the stream right at the exit of the forest (how convenient 😉) and then walked on for six kilometres to the nearest houses/farms. And suddenly there was someone waving beside the fence and 15 minutes later we sat in the kitchen of Glenn and Leanne. And just a little bit later we ate our imaginary dream-starter: toast with Vegemite and poached egg. Trail Magic!

Nadine

😄😐😣: 8/10

💪: 8/10

Higher and higher! Today we climbed Mt. Pirongia, with 959m by far the highest point so far on the Te Araroa. One should expect that we had a great view from up there. But nooo, we had 360° of white. The summit was in the clouds.

After a long lunch break in the first DOC (Department of Conservation) hut we’ve encountered on the Te Araroa we started the descent. And what a descent! Knee deep mud and steep sections awaited us. What fun! 😉

But it wasn’t as bad as Raetea Forest and I never fell, wuhuu!

And then came the highlight of the day: Toast with Vegemite and poached egg. Remember? Our imaginary dinner on day 29 😉

We got that treat at Glenn and Leanne’s, who also offered us a shower and a bed. How nice we have it and how lucky we are…

Te-Araroa-33-41-5

Day 36: Te Rauamoa Rd. (after Pirongia) to Ngatapuwae Rd. (before Waitomo)

32,5 kilometres, 8h20min

Philippe

😄😐😣: 5/10

💪: 8/10

With toast with honey additional to our regular breakfast we started the day. I know, real honey!

I liked today’s route a lot. It even consoled me for my sore shoulder and hip (left side). Gravel road, sheep and cow paddocks, green hills, bush, rainforest, etc.. The full range!

Finally we got some views over the surroundings, too. Green with white spots. And countless hills. We walked 32,5 kilometres and set up our tent before Waitomo because we’re gonna make our resupply in 20 kilometres in Te Kuiti.

We’ve already seen the famous Waitomo caves six years ago. But the tubing through the glowworm caves are still in good memory.

Nadine

😄😐😣: 7/10

💪: 8/10

Today was what I’d call a typical Te Araroa hiking day (at least compared to what we’ve experienced so far). A bit tarmac and a bit metal road, then pastures with cows, sheep, goats, some ups and downs along the ridges of some hills, then through shrubs, some nice forest tracks, some muddy sections, slippery clay tracks down a slope to a stream, which we had to ford (shin deep, so not too bad 😉), and at the finish a shared bike-/riding-/tramping-track, until we came out of the forest and onto the road again. The weather was ordinary, too. At first overcast, then sunny and in the evening rain clouds covered the sky.

Day 37: Ngatapuwae Rd. (before Waitomo) to Te Kuiti

20 kilometres, 5h15min

Philippe

😄😐😣: 1/10

💪: 4/10

The combination of a bad route and sore shoulder muscles and hip is never good. Today my mood was like a water kettle with repeat function. Regularly, I exploded and sent the Te Araroa to hell. For example, there was a section which is probably known by former Te Araroa hikers as the “tunnel of gorse”. A narrow trail, surrounded on all sides by dense needly bush (gorse). This year someone had pity and made use of the chainsaw. So for us the short section was okay. But 80% of the gorse was still growing in other parts. As well as the breakneck sidlings, the ups and downs on the perforated paddocks and the dumb routing in general.

My excitement for the Te Araroa and the North Island was limited today. But now and then there are such days and now I let my mood cool down on the campground in Te Kuiti.

Keep calm and keep on walking!

Nadine

😄😐😣: 5/10

💪: 7/10

I hate gorse. And holey cow pastures. And stiles. And pointless ups and downs (PUDs). And purposeless going zigzag over pastures, where you could walk just right across. And … No, I think that was it for today. 😉

All the better that we were over and done with that section at midday. And we could check in at the campsite after we went to resupply for the next six days. In the afternoon we were occupied with showering, laundry, repacking food and tiping trail stories…

Te-Araroa-33-41-4

Day 38: Te Kuiti to Waipa Valley Rd.

36 kilometres, 9h30min

Philippe

😄😐😣: 8/10

💪: 7/10

My mood was considerably better today. The Immodium pills, which I took in the evening, surely contributed to that. After two days of diarrhea I finally got a break.

The first 20 kilometres were the most beautiful today. We walked the whole time along the Mangaokewa River and hiked through native bush, primeval forest and on farmland. Both sides of the river valley got higher and steeper with every kilometre and we had to climb up and down for every river bend. Therefore a few sidlings were very steep and a false step would have meant a direct fall into the river or a fall of several dozens of metres and then into the river. Of course there were some muddy parts too and my feet looked horrible in the evening.

We could set up our tent on a paddock and got water from the farmer. Today 16 kilometres on roads. Tomorrow another 21. Yeah.

Nadine

😄😐😣: 7/10

💪: 8/10

They want to kill me! After hours of break-neck sidling alongside steep (almost vertical) slopes I had died a thousand deaths and my feet felt as if someone tried his meat beater on my feet.

At least the surroundings were awesome! At first, the trail went through ancient forests and later across pastures, but always along the Mangaokewa River. And my feet could “relax” on the following 16 kilometres on gravel roads…

Te-Araroa-33-41-3

Day 39: Waipa Valley Rd. to Bog Inn Hut

33 kilometres (+5km hitchhiking), 7h10min

Philippe

😄😐😣: 7/10

💪: 7/10

The Te Araroa led us further inland. The night was cold and humid and it took me an hour to get warm again in the morning. 21 kilometres on the road were lying ahead. We hitched the last 5 kilometres, because a car with a Finnish Te Araroa hiker already in it stopped unpromptedly. My hip was glad.

Then the nice part of the hike began. The Pureora Forest was like out of a fairy tale. Old, knobby, full of moss and impressive giant trees. I heard the forest breathing. And the track – a mountain bike trail – was wide and formed, so we had enough time to take in our surroundings. Something we’ve missed on the trail a couple of times so far. Beaten tracks definitely have their advantages. On the summit of Mt. Pureora we were almost blown away (by the wind 😉). So we quickly climbed down again into the protective forest. We spent the night in the Bog Inn hut with Yoel and Eitan from Israel, whom we met on the first two days of our Te Araroa journey. Great guys. The talks about Israel were really interesting. And we heard about Israels own long-distance hike for the first time. Very tempting 😉

Nadine

😄😐😣: 7/10

💪: 6/10

15 kilometres on the road and then mostly on a bike trail. An awesome trail through a wonderful forest, which we even could admire while walking, since we didn’t have to place each step too carefully. And finally, we got some of those great views from a summit (Mt. Pureora)!

It’s going to be our first night in a hut on the Te Araroa and I’m really happy that they provide mattresses. My sleeping pad turned against me yesterday: two puffs and three air chambers became a single big one, which resulted in a very uncomfortable night. I hope to find a replacement soon and that I won’t have to use it too often until then.

Te-Araroa-33-41-1

Day 40: Bog Inn Hut to Hauhungaroa Hut

30 kilometres, 9h30min

Philippe

😄😐😣: 8/10

💪: 8/10

1000 kilometres are done. Today we passed the mark! It feels good. Especially in the Pureora Forest. I like this section very much so far. It’s at least in the top 3 for the first 1000km. The forest is old and covered with lichen and moss. Everywhere it dribbles and twittering of birds is audible. Despite the rain and the wet feet all day long it was a joy to walk through this native forest.

From the Bog Inn Hut to the Waihaha Hut it took us 5h and further 4h to the Hauhungoroa Hut. Plus the breaks. It was exhausting, muddy, slippery, steep but marvellous. The track notes said 17h tough 😉. We celebrated together with Yoel and Eitan the 1000km with Bourbon and sweets. The poor Kiwi family in the hut 😅. No, we were in bed at 9pm.

Nadine

😄😐😣: 10/10

💪: 6/10

1000 kilometres! Wow,  and 40 days of the Te Araroa already. We celebrated in the Hauhungaroa hut with Eitan and Yoel (Israel), who actually started at Cape Reinga on the same day we did.

Some treats survived the hike from Te Kuiti too and so we shared Bourbon, Timtams (chocolate waffle cookies) and apple-gingerbread pies and toasted to the next 2000 kilometres.

The hiking day was great too. The forest is amazingly
beautiful and we were able to walk a good pace (9h30min instead of 17h acc. to the trail notes). Only my legs lacked in energy. They felt sour and heavy in the uphills. I’ll probably see if I can find a good protein powder in Taumarunui and see if that helps.

Te-Araroa-33-41-2

Day 41: Hauhungaroa Hut to Taumarunui

38,5 kilometres, 8h20min

Philippe

😄😐😣: 7/10

💪: 8/10

Yesterday evening it was 29 degrees Celsius in the hut. It never gets that hot in a normal house in New Zealand. The morning was colder all the more. The fog and the rain weren’t very tempting. That’s why we got over with the last 7km in the forest very “quickly”. It took us 2h to get through the mud. And for now it’s enough with forest for the next days.
Nonetheless, the route from Te Kuiti to Taumarunui was so far the best section. Even though we had to walk 31,5km on gravel and tarmac roads to the center of Taumarunui in the end. The sun showed up after lunch and the kilometres passed quickly.
In celebration of the 1000er mark we treated ourselves with a cabin on the campground. Tomorrow we have zero day aka chores day.

Nadine

😄😐😣: 8/10

💪: 8/10

I consider Pureora Forest one of the best sections of the Te Araroa so far. But the 7 kilometres from the Hauhungaroa hut out of the forest made me almost rethink that opinion. Because of the rain of the last few days (and as it seemed through the night) the forest floor was soaked and the track was more like a slide of dirt, leaves and moss.

But still I was cheerful, because we had a goal: Taumarunui, a double room, and a Zero Day. Yippie!

Only 31 kilometres of road walking still separated us from that goal after emerging from the forest. 😕 As the rain stopped at long last the sun came out, the surrounding was pretty and the traffic scarce, so I was in considerably good spirits, we made a pretty good pace and were in Taumarunui in no time. At the holiday park we checked in for a cabin (the Motels were fully booked or too expensive) and now enjoy the conveniences of a Zero Day. 😄

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