A month ago we completed the South Island portion of the Te Araroa, New Zealand’s national trail, which runs the entire length of the country. We were amazed at the rich diversity of scenery and landscapes. From the steamy rainforest and hidden coves of the Queen Charlotte Track to the craggy cliffs of the Richmond Range to the endless golden tussock fields of the Rangitata, we felt like every day was a new discovery. New Zealand packs a tremendous amount of variety into a small country. Sore feet and heavy packs are already fading memories. Instead, we think fondly of the people we met along the trail who shared the journey with us or welcomed us into their homes.

Te Araroa, South Island

Here’s a recap of the trip…

  • 75 Days
  • 1175 Km (1025 Km walked, 150 Km cycled)
  • 11 Rest days
  • 16 Nights camping
  • 29 Nights in huts
  • 30 Nights in towns & with trail angels
  • 3 Rainy days (it was a very dry year)
  • 1 Day I felt cold (it was an unusually hot year)
  • 0 Kg lost (yes, I ate a lot)
  • 6 Cats pet (they always find me)

Queen Charlotte Track – 84 km, 5 days + 1 rest day

Pelorus River Track – 74 km, 5 days + 1 rest day

Richmond Alpine Track – 101 km, 7 days + 1 rest day

Nelson Lakes – 118 km, 7 days + 1 rest day

Arthur’s Pass & Deception River – 103 km, 6 days

Harper River – 33 km, 2 days + 1 rest day

Rakaia River to Rangitata River – 69 km, 3 days

Rangitata to Tekapo – 76 km, 4 days

Tekapo Cycle – 95 km, 1 day cycling + 1 rest day

Lake Ohau to Hawea – 101 km, 6 days

Lake Hawea to Wanaka – 82 km, 4 days + 2 rest days

Wanaka to Queenstown – 51 km, 3 days

Queenstown – 3 rest days!

Queenstown to Te Anau – 51 km, 3 days

Te Anau & Milford Sound – another great rest day

Te Anau to Birchwood Station – 78 km, 6 days

Longwood Forest to Bluff – 105 km, 5 days

Bluff – The End of the Trail

Looking Back
Looking back on these two and a half months of walking and exploring, I’m happy we chose to travel New Zealand this way. Te Araroa passes through some remote areas that few tourists – even few New Zealanders – ever see. There’s something quite special about connecting these places together by foot (with some cycling & hitch hiking thrown in). While the terrain is rugged and challenging, I think NZ’s South Island is a great place for a long walk. The scenery changes so quickly and is so diverse that you’re always engaged and looking forward to the next day. I’m sure I’ll look back on the journey with fond memories for years to come.

5 thoughts on “Te Araroa – New Zealand’s National Trail

  1. 11 April Hello Justin, I enjoyed seeing the best photos again you showed. A great trip at a relaxing pace. One we have in common is that cats draw us. We both love cats. Cats have some magnetic pull to some people who love cats.

    cheers, Michael T.

    1. You’re very right, Michael, we both love cats. There’s something very special about them. I’m often surprised how cats I’ve never met before come right up to me for a pet or cuddle.

  2. Congratulations Silvi & Justin. What an accomplishment. Great condensed recap description of your adventure. Love it. Well done.

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