Te Araroa: The Long Pathway

Something has compelled me to dip out of life once again. Maybe the trigger was my gap between jobs, the timing between countries... or that insatiable desire to go for another long walk.

What's true is the hunger has lingered since my 1000km walk from France to Spain, El Camino de Santiago. Many people treat the journey as a once in a lifetime activity but the finish wasn't enough for me.

After reaching the final Cathedral and receiving my Compostela, I continued walking. I went on to two beaches including finistere, the end of the Earth.

Still, it wasn't enough. I left Spain with ideas for my next path to take as well as other long walks to do (I'm looking at you, Via Francigena).

A few months later I came to New Zealand and discovered Te Araroa, The Long Pathway. I was fascinated when a German couple told me they completed all 3000kms of it; walking from the tip of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island in about four months.

"You're crazy" is all I could think. I would have to dedicate a future summer or carefully plan a trip to come back if I ever wanted to do that.

Spoiler alert--I'm doing it now. My next gig starts in October and until then I'm a free bird.

Te Araroa wasn't the first time filler to come to mind--that spot was taken by Tonga--but eventually I decided, if not now, when?

Today I'm 100kms in and unlike the Camino, it's been a lonely route for me. Human interactions are rare and the first one happened when a man driving his pickup down 90-mile beach stopped to offer me a lift.

"I'm alright" I said, "I'll be walking at least another 40 days down the North Island".

"Are you crazy?" He asked.

The question caught me off guard though it was my exact reaction to the Germans.

Unlike them, I won't have enough time to complete the entire Te Araroa. I do hope to log about 1,000kms though.

This will be a more challenging and more remote walk than the Camino. Definitely my hardest to date.

To anyone concerned or future Te Araroa walkers, I will post daily accounts from the trek (retroactively by about a week).

Now that I have spent a few days on the walk I can confirm that yes, I might be crazy. Fortunately, I've had enough time to find peace in that too.


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