Te Araroa (“the TA”) is a 3000km trek along the length of New Zealand. People sometimes consider this hike only for ‘ultra fit’, or overseas visitors. A local social enterprise called Got To Get Out is trying to change perceptions about who “New Zealand’s Trail” is really for, by filming a group of inexperienced local residents attempting sections of the trail, on their weekends.
Founder Robert Bruce wishes to prove Kiwis can also enjoy the trail, without taking months off work, to improve people’s health and wellness.
Te Araroa (TA) walkers can attempt the Hakarimata Walkway from either its southern end, near Ngāruawāhia, or northern end, closer to Huntly. This group walked SOBO (south bound) so entered the track at Parker Road, near Huntly.
The third video in our series begins with the Kauri Loop Track west of the Lower Lookout. The group walked past an old pā site and through regenerating bush to enjoy some stunning, giant kauri trees (the largest in the region). A few minutes further on, was the kauri grove bush viewpoint. This loop track then takes you through to the Upper Lookout where the Hakarimata Walkway officially begins. The walking is relatively easy going, from this point forward.
The majority of the Walkway is along the main ridge track, which continues southwards from the Upper Lookout to the Hakarimata Trig at 374m above sea level, the highest point of this adventure.
Walking 200m south of the trig, walkers take the track leading down towards the Mangarata Stream. “The Summit Track” is a tremendous local success story, where the community have adopted these steps as a community wellbeing tool, running up and down with or without backpacks, for fitness.
People thinking about trying this or any sections of Te Araroa, should download the relevant trail notes (see teararoa.org.nz/the-trail/waikato/waikato-trail-notes) and prepare by sourcing the right clothing for the conditions based off weather reports, equipment such as walking poles, suitable footwear, and lightweight nutrition to keep energy up throughout the long days on foot.
Advice for hikers wishing to try the Hakarimata Walkway section of Te Araroa:
- The start of the trail is only two hours from Auckland central, and easy to find
- It took our group of novices around seven hours, to get from the Parker Road (Huntly end) to Ngāruawāhia, so plan accordingly with enough water and food
- Pack light as there is a big ascent irrespective of walking SOBO or NOBO
- Harden your feet ahead long sections of Te Araroa, such as by walking barefoot and wearing-in new footwear ahead of time. Don’t wear brand new boots for a long hike!
- There are some places you can slip off the track or trip on angled roots, especially following rain, so tread carefully and wear grippy sneakers or boots
- Trekking poles can be useful on long sections of Te Araroa
- Make sure to ‘leave no trace’. Take all rubbish out with you and stay on tracks
- The Riverbed Motel in Ngāruawāhia is a short distance from the bushline (across the river), and well equipped and accustomed to Te Araroa hikers
Hikers wanting to carry-on the trail for a second day, could consider walking Ngāruawāhia. to Hamilton. This group walked a further 12km beside the Waikato river toward Hamilton, before heading home for work the next day.
NZ Herald Travel is releasing videos of this project one at a time, as this group attempts increasingly difficult sections of Te Araroa to show what is possibly in a weekend. The next video in the series will be the Pureora Timber Trail.
This video series has been supported by Backcountry Cuisine freeze-dried meals.
To see part two of the series, click here
To see part one of the series, click here
A documentary following the journeys of these novice hikers as they have life changes on the trail, will be released in 2023. gottogetout.com