If you’re looking for a mammoth walking trail that spans a whole country from top to bottom then the Te Araroa Trail – The Long Pathway – in New Zealand is just the path for you! The trail runs from Cape Reinga, at the north westernmost point of North Island, right down to Bluff, which is pretty much the southernmost town in the country, located on South Island.
Te Araroa Trail: 150 Days – 3,000 km / 1,864 mi
Yep, you read that right; this trail covers a track that is 3,000 km in length! Thankfully the trail has been broken up into around 300 sections making completing the whole long distance path a more realistic prospect. Some of the section range from walks that last a couple of hours to those that can take nine days. Although the record for completing the whole trail is 53 days, set by British runner Jez Bragg at the start of 2013.
History of the Trail
The straight line distance between the two ends of the Te Araro Trail is about 1475 km but the path itself covers a distance of 3,000 km. The construction of the route involved the work of hundreds of volunteers before it was finally officially opened in 2011, with 10 years in the making. Although a lot of the work involved connecting up existing tracks and paths, a large portion of the project involved constructing new trails and link sections. A total of £2 million was allocated to the project by the New Zealand government.
Highlights of Te Araroa
As this epic trail spans the two islands of New Zealand it makes for some impressive scenery and contrasts in conditions, especially when you factor in how long it will take to walk and the different seasons you might encounter.
If like most through-walkers, you start at the north end of the trail, at Cape Reinga in Northland you will be subject to some amazing sights. Going this far north in New Zealand reveals secluded landscapes taking your across coastal sand, through woodlands trails, over hills and along dales. If you prefer secluded pathways in the wilderness with a bit of action such as river crossings and country hikes then this stretch of The Long Pathway might be your favourite.
The Waikato / King Country section of the trail follows the revered Waikato River for large swathes of the journey. Taking in the Hakarimata Range as well as Mt Pirongia and finally Mt Tongariro, with some deep forest walking along the way, this section of the Te Araroa will appeal to those who like being surrounded by the vastness of nature in all its glory.
The Nelson / Marlborough section is the first stretch of the trail on South Island and offers up scenic bays and relaxing walks before bringing you back to reality with some strenuous sections through the Richmond Range and the Nelson Lakes National Park. This is probably the toughest part of Te Araroa so for those of you who prefer your trails with a more physically challenging aspect then this might just be your favourite section.
Overall the Te Araroa is one of the most impressive long distance trails out there. It’s an ambitious trail that can be easily divided up into more manageable chunks for those who haven’t got 100+ days to spare traversing this trail through beautifully scenic countryside. If you feel like unleashing your inner hobbit, this trek through middle-earth is right up your street!