Coming to visit
Hi, Have a general plan to hike NZ from tip to toe. Here's what I envision... 2 months - Dec/Jan, or Jan/Feb. Which would be more practical in terms of travel/weather/etc...North to South or South to North. Is 2 months enough...would like to include all great walks and their connectors. I average 10-20k a day. Couple of general questions... Of course huts are great, but I intend to tent the majority of nights. Is tenting permited on all/most trails (excuding private land)? Fire? Are camp fires allowed (assuming low hazards)? I treat fire with highest regard...always build tiny fires...boil a pot, warm face & hands...put it out! Transportation to and from trail heads - generally available? Cost? ( I realize cost varies with distance/time/etc)but generally... Am I up for it? 2009 I hiked the West Coast Trail - 77k in 6.5 days. 2010 - I hiked the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail - 50k AND the WCT in 9.5 days. All self contained with no re-supply. http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=p1zlg9m4e8a46 This link will show you some pics from the two years. And absolutely anything else you care to share. As time draws closer, I'll start firming up details. Generally I do not believe in reserve-systems but sometimes you gotta bend! Isn't my intention to ignore the cities or the people. With only 2 months, I suspect most of my time will be on the trail.
I would spend some time on this site looking at the photos and reading the trip reports. Hiking and walking are quite different from tramping. You have some great photos by the way but i havent seen too many places in NZ quite so accomodating in the track department. While its summer here during those times the weather can be just as unstable if not more so than mid winter. 2 months seems like an awfully short time to walk both islands and cover all the great walks. The great walks by the way are the only walks that come close to what you would describe as a trail in the states. You have set yourself quite a mission I personally would do a little more research you may need a little more time.
I'm not quite sure what you're planning to do - do you want to walk the entire length of NZ "tip to toe", or do you intend to do the Great Walks and perhaps use other transport to get from one to the next? The Great Walks don't particularly lend themselves to a through-trip of the length of the country. There are no "connecting trails" as such between the Great Walks. The Great Walks have spectacular scenery and show a real variety of NZ. Expect crowds if you are on them over Dec to Feb. Check out the DOC website for their locations and costs. It is cheaper to camp than to use huts, but still not free, and many will tie you to a rigid timetable due to fixed bookings. Aside from at the camping grounds, camping is not permitted within 500m of most of the Great Walks. Due to the terrain in NZ you will often find it is not possible to deviate more than 500m off the track. However, away from the Great Walks, it is permitted to camp anywhere along a tramping track on public land. I'm not sure but I believe fires are often banned during summer, but it is area-specific. Certainly you should plan to use a gas or spirit stove for cooking. The DOC website may have info on campfires. Te Araroa, a tramping track the length of the country, is mostly open and is due to be completed in Feb 2011. But it will take more like 5 or 6 months to walk, not two, and it misses out many of the Great Walks. Have a look at http://www.teararoa.org.nz if you are looking for a route that will take you from Cape Reinga to Bluff. There are heaps of options for tramping in NZ and I'm sure you'll find what you want for a great trip - good luck!
Hey Paul/Chris...thanks for starting this off. First, I'm in Canada, not the US. Lets see...I use my primus stove most of the time but the occasional campfire is nice (usually on the beach). I guess I ramble to much...I'm curious...it has been mentioned quite a bit about 'crowds'. The West Coast Trail allows 30 people per day from each end...so in a week there could be a maximum of 420 bodies on the trail. Even so, I've gone five hours without seeing another person. The wct is considered a busy trail in jun/jul/aug. Okay, maybe it would be a good idea if you gave me your idea of the difference in hiking, tramping and walking. A walk is basically a stroll in a park or other 'controlled' setting. A hike is a self-contained trek (usually with no chance to re-supply mid-way) through 'wild' lands with little or no land/trail management. As far as I know, in Canada, there are no huts/shelters at all on a hiker's trail. Tramping is...? Well, from just 2 comments I can see I've got tons of reading to do! I'll post again in a week or so...hopefully with a clearer vision! thanks guys.
Hi Gotta - I too am a bit confused about what you're asking. As Chris said, there is a track called the Te Araroa that reaches from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff in the far South of the South Island. It's really a series of existing tracks all linked up with connectors and such. I will be setting off on it in November (teararoaonveg.wordpress.com) and it takes most people 5-6 months - depending on how much rest time they give themselves I suppose, and how far they can walk in a day. Tenting is possible along many stretches and this is on DOC land, private land, or camping grounds. It depends. The track passes through towns along the way, in which case it would be worth staying in a hostel or the like for a change of pace. The South Island is riddled with DOC huts which is nice. I hear the North Island isn't so lucky. The whole walk v hike v tramp thing is a nonissue. They are all essentially the same thing in different places. We call it bushwalking here in Australia, I think they call it hill walking in the UK, and hiking / trekking in the States. Tramping is what the Kiwis call it. And it means to propel one's self on foot with a rucksack on their back. Wikipedia puts it nicely: A tramper is a person who hikes, and normally camps in the backcountry for a period of time, which is normally over one or more nights. If you're hitting NZ in summer and you want a long walk (but are restricted on time), perhaps start on the Queen Charlotte Track and try to head as far South on the Te Araroa as time permits. Might even finish the South Island in the space of a couple of months. Cheers, Paul
I suppose what I allude to in a typically understated Kiwi way is the type of conditions the terms Tramping Hiking and bush walking conjure up. While definitely not an expert I have bush walked in Australia, Hiked in North America, and walked in Europe. Seasons aside the experience was quite different in each place. The type of tracks (easily found roads and foot paths in some cases), facilities especially in Europe and North America lead many to be unprepared for the NZ Experience which tends to be a little more rustic and due to the narrow confines of our longish islands quickly (as in 10 to 15 mins) weather changeable. I have lost track of the number of visitors with huge experience overseas caught out by the intensity of their Newzealand experience and as for many its their only chance to get here judging it by their local experience probably isnt a good idea. In other words come prepared.
Okay...forget everything I said before. I hope none of you hurt yourselves...laughing so hard at this crazy, naive canuck, that you fell off your chairs! So, let’s start again....I am planning to travel to New Zealand for 2 - 3 months. I hope to be there for most of your summer. I am NOT coming as a tourist. I am coming as an avid hiker. I am intrigued by the complexity and number of available trails in your country. I would hope to spend the majority of my time ‘on the trail’. I’ve selected four of the Great walks as prime targets. These would be...Abel Tasman, Lake Waikaremoana, Heaphy Track, and Kepler Track. Being generous with time, I figure these four walks will take about 25 days to complete. (not all at once!) This should leave me ample time to travel to and from ‘starts and finishes’. Taking time between tracks to regenerate, etc. The one critical, no substitute time during my visit is the period between Jan 20 Jan 30. Why? My birthday is Jan 25...I will be turning 60. (God that hurts...how did I get here so fast?!) I want to be on your most fantastic, most awesome, beautiful beach to celebrate that day. If I’m not mistaken that should have me on the Abel Tasman Track? Please correct me if you know of a better place! Right, so having stated the above, if time permits, there are probably many, many other trails (tracks?) of various lengths that some of you would consider ‘must-do’s’. Please, feel free to advise of such. As stated before, my preference is to coastal and/or forest hiking. I’m not a big fan of mountain climbing, but will certainly do it if it means getting to that ‘special’ place. In terms of my experience...I guess I’d have to say I’m somewhat a novice...having only a few years hiking time. However, the hikes I’ve done are considered (in Canada) to be some of the toughest around. My pack weight has averaged 40-45 lbs. over 5 - 10 days. I can easily handle moderate-to-difficult tracks. My main reason for using this site for feedback is that I get confused and side-tracked easily on the ‘web’. So pointers help me stay focused. I’ll give you a ‘for instance’...I was trying to find out what your transportation system is like...Gov’t sites tend to lead to ‘tour’ operators. I’m not into that. As a local, if you don’t own a car...what do you do? In Canada, the bus line between cities is Greyhound. You must have a similar system. Do locals use the tourist system to get around? When I land In Auckland, I’m not going to be looking for the best tourist hotel or club, or the highest bungee jump, etc. I’m going to be looking for the easiest way to get to the first trail. God, I hope I haven’t offended anyone! Oh, by the way, one more thing...I am a solo hiker...quite happy to be hiking by myself. Not stupid though, when need arises (safety, etc) I join up with a passing group. Well that’s all for now. If anyone would like to converse less publicly... [Email address removed] Sun in your face, wind in your hair, rain at your back...what can be better than that! Happy tramping!
No laughter here (well not much) just concern that you come and have a good time. Turning 60 on a beach in the queen charlote sound on a fine summers day with a bottle of marlborough wine i can think of much worse things to do!
Hey gottawalkit --- My wife & I recently finished up a 4.5-month trek through NZ that sounds conceptually similar to your idea. Check here for some ideas that may help you... http://trtlrock.blogspot.com/2008/12/big-bend-2007.html Good luck, John
No laughing here either. I'm with BigPaul with the Queen Charlotte and wine. Sounds a bit awesome! My two cents worth; - Getting around: Check nakedbus.com. I got from Te Anau to Queenstown last year for $1. To get from Auckland to the South Island (Christchurch) I'd fly. I'm flying into ChCh (from Australia) on 14th Oct and then wish to head to Auckland and to do so by bus / ferry / train was triple the price to flying with Air NZ. Paid $49 for the flight. - Maximising your time on the trail. I met a few guys last year that pretty much walked from trail to trail. For instance, they walked into the West Matukituki Track (near Wanaka), went over Cascade Saddle, down the Dart Valley (part of the Rees Dart Track), through the Rockburn, onto the Routeburn Track, down the Greenstone Valley, and down the Mavora Walkway to Te Anau.
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