Times when you can expect extra numbers of Kiwis on the trail and in accommodation are public holidays and school holidays. Note that each region has its own anniversary holiday date marking its founding or arrival of colonists. So Otago can be on holiday when Canterbury is at work.
Daylight saving time is something to consider if the change occurs while you are on the trail. You might find that everyone has shifted their clock back or forward an hour while you are out of touch with civilisation. The change officially always takes place at 2am or 3am on a Sunday. If this is going to affect you it most likely will be in early April when you set your watch back one hour.
Te Araroa Specific Links
There is the official site of course, with heaps of information. There is now a south to north guide to the South Island on it, but the accommodation and transport info is on the south-bound pages.
There are various blogs and sections of personal websites covering the TA but mostly I haven’t found them useful enough to list them here. However, I make an exception for Section Hiking the Te Araroa Trail, by Jonathan Moake, which is really good and has lots of photographs. Click on some of the subjects down the right hand side under ‘labels’. The ‘resupply points’ one is good for showing you exactly what is available at St Arnaud and Hanmer Springs, but note that the café in Arthurs Pass no longer sells groceries.
And the Facebook page. There is a general TA group and a new group made each year for people walking in that year. You need to put in a request to join this one. Remember that you can search these groups for answers to perennial questions like how much food to carry, what size pack, when is the best time to start, where to send bounce boxes, etc, etc. I’d like to think I have answered all these questions on this site though.
Women-specific topics are discussed on the Te Araroa Trail Women’s Group. Again, it is a closed group to which you need to apply to join.
There is also an After Te Araroa Facebook group for those who have finished. Why? Well the introduction to it says: “A lot of people struggle when they have finished the trail. Some people suffer from post hike depression. That’s a serious thing and something that can happen to all of us, even if we don’t want to.” And not necessarily depression, just a sense of dislocation, and ‘What do I do now?’ sort of feeling. Which is partly why I wrote this site I guess – for myself.
A site for trail angels to introduce themselves and offer advice has been formed. You can find them popping up on the Facebook pages now and then, but this is a dedicated site, organised by region. It is new and hence a little sparse as of the time of writing (early 2018), but I’m sure it will become increasingly useful. Trail angels are people who often live along the trail route and may offer anything from a cup of tea to a place to stay, as well as advice, rides, etc. Frequently they are former TA walkers. Accept their generosity in the spirit with which it is offered.
Tramping.net.nz is a truly fantastic site. It has a pages dedicated to the South Island TA, including a series of photographs over the various sections—most useful if you haven’t been to NZ and are wondering what the trail actually looks like. These consist of slideshows at the bottom of the page on each section. There are also photographs of many of the huts and camping sites. It is all north to south, but that’s not a big problem.
The Department of Conservation also has a lot of useful information, including a minimal page on what seems to be every hut they are responsible for. But its usually just as easy to use a Google search to find the page on a given hut.
More and more people are doing the TA every year. This can lead to more rubbish on the trail, unnecessary trampling of vegetation, human waste around campsites, polluted water, depleted firewood, depleted tank water at huts, etc. You’ve probably heard of the ‘leave no trace’ philosophy. I think we all have a duty to follow it. Here’s the NZ Leave No Trace site and Jonathan Moake mentioned above has a more readable page on the subject under Ethical Tramping. Now the Te Araroa Trust has got on board with this and have their ethical Trail Pledge. One thing I would add is don’t just take out your own rubbish but pick up other people’s. No magic fairy is going to come along and do it, and if everyone did so there wouldn’t be any.
Pronouncing Māori Names
There’s Māori as pronounced by most New Zealanders, and if you are from overseas you need to get to that level to be understood. But then there is a step beyond of pronouncing words properly and not mangling the language. The further south you go in New Zealand the worse the pronunciation can be. Typically, long vowels are converted to short ones and long words can be abbreviated as too much effort. A classic is Paraparaumu (para para oo-moo (with the para as in Carla) is shortened in both respects to para-pa-ram (with the ‘a’s all as in ‘marry’). Very lazy. Here’s Mari Johnson on YouTube giving some pronunciation tips (ignore the statement that Māori have been in NZ for 2000 years) and a written guide. A few of things that typically trip up many Pākehā New Zealanders are that ‘au’ is pronounced ‘oh’, not ‘our’ (Te Anau = Teh Are-noh); ng is soft, as in singer, not finger (Rangitata = Rang-ee tar-tar), and ‘o’ is pronounced as in ‘or’, not ‘oh’ (Ohai = Or-hai, but you will hear most people saying Oh-hai). Some vowels are extra long and these are increasingly being written with a macron (a line over the vowel) to indicate pronunciation.
My Other Blogs
Te Araroa related: Bluff and Ship Cove: images by Peter Peryer, John Webber and Mark Adams
My other website is dedicated to muesli and its variants! It is focused on a reviews of places where you can eat muesli, granola and porridge in Wellington, but also has plenty of other information (a bit like this site really). In particular, I have a page on making your own muesli that is relevant for doing the TA.
I have another life as a photography curator at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. You can find my blogs on photography and other media here.
Header photo: Tarn near Tarn Hut, Richmond Range