November 18th, 2009
Landed in New Zealand a few days ago. The days between leaving Nepal and now were lonely. In Bangkok. The minutes seemed like hours, the hours seemed like days. I was sad. Its always lonely in a big city. All is strange and estranged. I was missing the Himalayas and dreaming of New Zealand. Now I'm here and feeling a bit better. Been staying with Anna-Marry. Couch-surfing. Its fun to stay with someone that looks after you. I guess I needed it. Organizing myself for the Te Araroa. Not a lot of info but I got the maps. This is for real. I'll be alone for months. Hmmmm....
November 21st, 2009
I've been through a lot in the last few days. I couldn't stay at Anna-Marry's place anymore so she got me to stay with her ex-boyfriend (???) just north of Auckland. How the hell do I find these arrangements.... It was actually a nice evening at his family's home. This morning I started hitching up north to Cape Reinga. I never expected the events that occurred. I caught a few rides and in a few hours I was already in the Northland. Everyone were so nice to me. Really excited that I'm gonna hike New zealand. But the last ride... That was the weirdest and most amazing one. The guy, Martin, is a bit odd. Gave me a ride all the way to the cape and is taking care of me like a father. I am now camping next to the cape. With a PLB (Personal Location Beacon) he bought me as a gift. Its a 900$ gift. We are complete strangers. I have no idea how to handle this. This is a huge giving. Too much. I think I'm too modest for this. Or maybe don't know how to receive things. From people that care about me. Although this is very eccentric. I cannot believe I'm here. Its all so perfect. Tomorrow I start. This is it. Its gonna be amazing. Today it is the zero day. Tomorrow the reality is gonna change dramatically. I'm exactly where I should be. I'm... I'm here.
North Island - Welcome to the Jungle.....
November 22nd, 2009
I started today with great excitement, at Cape Reinga. That is it. I'm on my own, alone. I'm hiking New Zealand. No more games. Oh, who am I kidding... I'm afraid. I'm afraid of the loneliness, of the hike, of the loneliness.....Walked along the bays and cliffs of the Tasman sea. Really beautiful coastline. I started to relax and when I got to the Ninety mile beach I met a kiwi named Amos. He told me he is doing a section this week and every few weeks. He is a photographer. And... he is the sun of the Te Araroa founders!!! We talked a lot and We're camping together this evening. A great first evening on the trail. Its good to share with him the first dinner. I hope to see him again. Maybe when I reach Auckland. First day gone. A lot more to come.
Days: 1. Distance: 39 km.
|Cape Reinga taken by Amos Chapple|
Well this coastal walk is over. Its been mostly monotonic and dry. Not much water sources. Lucky it wasn't hot. Saw tourists get their van stuck in high tide. Idiots. Why the hell don't people think before they do something?? I put a lot of km for first days on a long hike. I'm going too fast. Well. Tomorrow I'm starting to break east through the forests to the south pacific ocean. Now comes a first real challenge. I hope there is some sort of marking. Talked to mom... I'm a bit annoyed. I feel like I need to apologize for what I'm doing here...
Days: 3. Distance: 105 km.
November 26th, 2009
What the hell was that???? This was no forest today! It was a damn jungle! I have never seen such dense bush in my life. It was all ups and downs which I like but with this dense bush? It was damn hard. So many blow downs. And markings? What a joke. There are no markings. There is no trail. Yesterday in the Herekino Forest it was nice. It was a new route and cleared. But today? Holy crap. Well... I made it eventually. Last evening I stayed with Peter Griffiths, a local farmer who also took care of the trail around these forests. (Maybe 10 years ago or something. There is not much of a trail now). It was nice. I talked a lot with him and Steve, an Ausi traveling musician. He is weird. They all are. But, well, what am I? Tonight I'm staying in this old road motel owned by an old Maori couple. I still have a lot of this bush to go through. Tomorrow I have a navigation part. The first one. First official one anyways. Oh man... That was some bad jungle...
Days: 5. Distance: 145 km.
November 29th, 2009
Made it to the bay of islands. I got to the pacific ocean! I had the most weird days on the way. I got to a steep gorge, after a few hours in a nice forest just to realize there is no trail down. At least I, couldn't find one. The clouds were starting to build up so I took a detour and got to a forestry road, just to be detained and almost arrested by the police for violating a closure of the entire area due to Maori protesters. Idiots. Do I look like a Maori??? Well, maybe that is more likely than telling them I'm hiking the length of New Zealand. Finally they let me go and I got to a campground of the DOC. I hate it when I make excuses. I need to cope with the challenges and not run away from them. So, yesterday I woke up and decided to go back and complete what I detoured yesterday. And I did. And I even got to Kerikeri as I planned originally. Today was a beautiful easy walk to Paihia. I'm touching the South Pacific ocean! I have never been on an island. This is exciting! I crossed the dense bush of the far north....
I took a shared room in a hostel here. Nice people here. Having a good time. Why don't I ever stay for a few days?? I'm too shy. Maybe too different. I'm tired. Sleep!
Days: 8. Distance: 245 km.
December 2nd, 2009
I'm in Whangarei. What a disgusting city.... After a few days in the Bay of islands I needed a break and to get supplies. I'm staying in a nice backpacker although one of the owners is a real rude and annoying person. I took off from Paihia the other day, late again as usual after talking for hours to someone in the backpacker. I really need to stop doing that. I look for people all the time. Am I afraid to be with myself? The walk through the bush that day was nice and up hilly. But yesterday I was walking in the morning only to find out that part of the route along with an entire slope just went down to the valley, probably because of a rain storm. It was a complete havoc. I was cliffed out! I climbed up and went through some nasty murderous thorny bush and found a "route" again. I was just exhausted after this. So I got to Whangaruru and went to a campground. Camped in the laundry room.... Why don't I sleep in my tent?!?! I'm a softy. Got a ride this morning to Whangarei. I'm a bit tired. Made plans for the next stretch. Man, this owner is a hypocrite! Some people are just yuk. I was not even dirty!!!
Days: 11. Distance: 290 km.
December 5th, 2009
Got over my first real road walk and my first fording. Well, it wasn't real fording eventually. I was nervous about the rivers and creeks here. I never really crossed things like this before. Its not like We have much water sources back home. Well, my aqua shoes are nice but it is not the best to take the shoes off and then back on after every stream. I got real first rain. And the best was my secret beach! I took a different route the other day just to find the most amazing little isolated beach I've seen. So beautiful. I met Ed there, who was really surprised to see me cause he thought its his own private beach. He was amazed to hear that I walked from Cape Reinga, so he gave me these amazing cookies his wife made. Another trail magic? We had a great talk. Another friend in New Zealand. What an amazing beach. Moving south.
Days: 14. Distance: 365 km.
December 8th, 2009
Bush, coast, bush, coast, bush and......coast! That's the walking in the last days. Sometimes scenic and sometimes a green tunnel. Beautiful peninsulas here in New Zealand. It really feels like and island when you got a coastal stretch. You walk the curves of an island. Its just incredible. Two days ago I had to take a boat ride over a channel and while crossing it I actually saw Orca!!!!!!!! Killer whales!!!! For real! Wild! in nature! no touristic spots.... I am just in heaven.
They are huge. One male swam next to the boat. Beautiful cliff walks along the south pacific. Getting closer to Auckland. Some really nice and quiet backpackers along the way. Saw a dead penguin. I wanna see a live one!
Days: 17. Distance: 470 km.
December 11th, 2009
Auckland. I'm in Auckland. And not only that. I'm a guest in the home of the Te Araroa founders. Geoff Chapple and Miriam Beatson. This is just amazing. I'm actually seeing the behind the scenes of the route. The maps on the wall. The plans. Everything. Looking at all of this just makes me realize just how big this whole thing is. How fortunate I am to hike this now and not later. Now, when it is still in its most pure and virgin form. Walked a lot on roads in the last 2 days. After a great day in the bush of Tamahunga. I had the funniest incident with a seagull that decided to fight with me over a tasty sandwich I was preparing to eat. It was a war! No one and nothing will take my food from me. When I finally got rid of it, the seagull just stared at me with revengeful eyes and gave me a look with a promise to get even. The next morning a seagull crapped on my head!!!!
I think it was its cousin. They have a gang. I am really here..... The heart of the Te Araroa.
Days: 20. Distance: 590 km.
December 16th, 2009
The days I've spent with Miriam and Geoff were just magical for me. They really treat me like a son. Seeing the trail like this. Through their eyes and hard work. Its incredible. We talked, We ate, We laughed, We enjoyed. Amazing people. I'll be back. I'll see them again. Now I have gone through the urban stretch of Auckland. I was a bit out. But now I'm back and out of the urban section and back into the bush. From tomorrow. I really feel like sort of pioneer in some way with this route. Its an amazing feeling. I hope I can help.
Days: 25. Distance: 623 km.
North Island - Lord of the Volcanoes
December 18th, 2009
Today was special. After a nice and long walk yesterday in the bush and along the Wairoa river and dam I hiked today in a bit of a different route and met this lady, named Diana, that was throwing out her garbage. She lives in the country side. Really in the middle of no where. In the middle of the Te Araroa. She was amazed to hear what I'm doing and she took me in for breakfast. It was just great but then she told me that her husband, Rod, was injured and she is worried. I found a way to give something back to the kiwis. At the end of the day, today, I told her to meet me and We drove to the hospital back in Auckland and I payed her husband a visit and told him a lot about the Himalayas and showed them pictures. Its his biggest dream, the Himalayas. I hope I made him smile a bit. It feels good to give back something. I know We'll stay in touch.
Days: 27. Distance: 685 km.
December 21St, 2009
I'm worried. After a day of the Waikato river swamps and about 30 electric fences (I don't need shock treatments thank you very much!), I got to a nice stretch on the Hakarimata range. But then I fell on a boulder yesterday just when I reached the top of the crest and I busted my knee. It swelled 3 times its normal size. I can't walk straight. Such bad luck... it was a beautiful hike up the mountains with beautiful bush but the rain made the ground and rocks slippery. Oh man I hope this is not a serious injury. I have a knee the size of an elephant. I took a zero today in Hamilton. I'm in a weird backpacker. I hope I can hike out tomorrow. I hope I can continue the trail. After I took that blow I still hiked for about 20 km more. I guess maybe that held my knee a bit. I'll see tomorrow....
Days: 30. Distance: 766 km.
December 22nd, 2009
These days of getting out of towns and cities don't do me good. I was sad today. For no reason at all. Its about comfort zones I think. I'm spoiled. All road walk today. The knee gave me almost no problems but it was all flat terrain. With my hands in my pockets I was just sad and troubled. Tomorrow I am going up the Pirongia range. Maybe I'll see glowing worms!
Days: 31. Distance: 801 km.
December 25th, 2009
Got to Waitomo after a few unexpected days. I was stuck in a storm up on Pirongia. Got down the next morning all in mud and slippery steep slopes and decided I wanna take a different route cause I wanna see the Tasman sea again. And so I did! And its Christmas Ev. And I'm a Jew, what the hell does Christmas Ev have anything to do with me.... Well, apparently this gas station owner thought differently and gave me the keys to his summer house and I had the place all to myself !!! Hooray! Now that's trail magic. So after a very good rest and food I did a very long day today of over 50 km and hiked to Waitomo, where the famous glowing worms caves are. It was just a beautiful day. Very scenic. Maybe the Te Araroa should go like this route I took. I'll suggest it to Geoff. I am tired but I feel good!
Days: 34. Distance: 884 km.
December 29th, 2009
Few unplanned days did me good. I got to Te Kuiti after seeing glowing worms in the caves of Waitomo and getting lost on farm roads. A bit of bush whacking got me to the highway outside the town and then I just decided. I'm going to take a break and hitch to New Plymouth to climb the famous mt. Taranaki. And so I did! Although the ride was with a real scary and big female truck driver (Which I was scared that she will rape me at any second cause she was horny as hell. And big as Satan or Santa...). I climbed that beautiful Fuji like mountain. In a whiteout of course. But I felt great! At least its a volcano! I have never seen a real volcano, let alone climbed one. Now I cant wait to get to Tongariro. The famous national park of mt. Doom. I got back to Te Kuiti to rainy days so I waited. Tomorrow I continue. That truck driver was scary....
Days: 38. Distance: 904 km.
January 4th, 2010
Waiting for the weather to clear. I really need Tongariro to be perfect. I need it badly for a moral uplift. It has been a long bush hike with occasional crappy weather. I need an open terrain alpine hike. And tomorrow this is it. I hope. The Hauhungaroa range was though and challenging. Very steep and a lot of ups and downs. But at the end I got amazing views on lake Taupo and the volcanoes in Tongariro NP. I learned an important lesson from this bush. NEVER fight the jungle. It will win. Always. Just be one with it. A path will unveil and you'll go through. Nature is stronger. I feel more and more part of it. Nice backpacker here! on lake Taupo.
Days: 44. Distance: 1063 km.
January 7th, 2010
Grand days! Every second and every minute! I've been waiting for days like these. Perfect nature, perfect scenery and perfect weather. I climbed Tongariro and Ngauruhoe (mt. Doom). It actually spit some sulfur fumes on me! Next I was on the slopes on Ruapehu, a beautiful volcano with a snowy peak. A lot of ups and downs. emerald lakes, desert, volcanoes. Just incredible. I got my first real highlight. Oh, I needed this badly. I'm on my way to the Wanganui river now. Now to finish the north island. God, what perfect days....
Days: 47. Distance: 1151 km.
North Island - The Tararuas, or the endless shores of the Tasman sea
January 11th, 2010
Hiked the Wanganui river in a day. That was insane. I was so tired. I wanna go up on the Tararuas range. Its a formidable range. I need this challenge. I want this challenge. Enough with the backpacker and hiding from real challenges. The south island is close and I want to face it properly. I plan to detour and go up on the Tararuas. All my plans are ready. Now I need really good weather for these mighty insane mountains... For that, I need to ford the Rangitiki river tomorrow. No way I'm hitching around this. I'll make it!
Days: 51. Distance: 1288 km.
January 16th, 2010
I am so disappointed. These damn Tararuas will hunt me from now on. I forded the Rangitiki river. Oh, I forded that thing. I was just in time for low tide and after getting stuck in deep mud I managed to cross, with the help of this nice old man that gave me instructions. He has lived there for 60 years. Problem was I forded butt naked... And his wife saw it and got pissed at me and at tourists in general. Well, after a lot of cursing I got annoyed and I yelled back: "Well! this is the best looking butt you've seen in a long long time!". I think she even agreed with me in her heart. But unfortunately it didn't help with the yelling so I got the hell away from there and got dressed quickly. Then the clouds came. Damn clouds. The Tararuas are just insane with weather. I waited to the weather but no use. I looked at those ferocious mountains and sadly I kept going on the coasts of the beautiful Tasman sea. Only to get insane 70 miles per hour winds over there. I would have been killed on the Tararuas. One day.... One day I'll be back there. And then nothing will stop me. Damn weather. Damn mountains. This will bug me for months now. They are laughing at me! Damn mountains. Now focusing on finishing the north island....
Days: 56. Distance: 1363 km.
January 21st, 2010
North island is done. Half way of the Te Araroa. End of many weird, exciting and thrilling experiences. There is a bittersweet tiredness in finishing a hike. Although this is not over at all. The main event and challenge is still ahead. The south island. And in the last day I realized just how much I need a real mental and physical challenge. Damn Tararuas. I'm still far away from Bluff and the end. The adrenaline will be pumping up very very soon, as I cross the Cook straits.
Roee, my little brother, Tom's brother, was here with me in Wellington in the last two days. It has been such a great thing to have someone from home here with me in such moments. And not just anyone but my little brother... God, sometimes I miss them all. The loneliness of the Te Araroa has taken its toll. 2 months alone. And I still have 2 more months of much brutal route. Its hard but I'm actually getting along with myself. Well, I try.... North island. Done!
Days: 61. Distance: 1482 km.
South Island - What the hell is a ToeK?!
January 23rd, 2010
Crossed the Cook Straits yesterday. There was tension in the air. The south island looks so different from the ferry. I met a nice girl on board but again a disappointment. Sometimes the loneliness is such a heavy burden. Started hiking today. The queen Charlotte trek. An easy and smooth beginning. Was a rainy day but a beautiful rain forest with the occasional glimpse to the Marlborough sounds. Its a bit of a couples trek. Depressing. Why am I alone? I'm thinking too much. In a few days I go into the Richmond range. That will be some brutal and major challenge. I am nervous.
Days: 63. Distance: 1647 km.
January 26th, 2010
Queen Charlotte trek was just beautiful. Some ups and downs the way I like and gorgeous views of the sounds. So different this south island is. I am now in Nelson. Got to the Pelorus river bridge after a long road walk. I hitched with two young Americans that told me they work in Antarctica! Only problem is their work is handling human waste. They clean crap from toilets. Interesting. Yuk! But still.... Its Antarctica! I am willing to handle waste. Maybe I can handle penguin waste or something... Tomorrow I start the Richmond alpine and I used this day to organize food packages for the next stretches after the Richmond range. I now just need to hike properly and not make mistakes. This Richmond alpine route is not a kid's game.
Days: 66. Distance: 1716 km.
January 29th, 2010
Bush Bush Bush. And I don't mean George Bush. After two days in the bush and some of it was pretty messed up with exposed tree routes and rocks I got to the Richmond Alpine route. A huge climb up to the bush line and then open alpine terrain. Amazing views for tens of kilometers. I feel tired a bit. Maybe the stress and plans are taking their tolls. I just wanna hike. Last night I felt so lonely. Its hard. Inside. Taking me down. Pinning me to the ground. Alone with my thoughts. Thoughts that won't leave me alone. Is happiness really not dependent on the people in my life? Can I be happy on my own? Oh, I wish I was on the ship with Capt. Cook...
This evening, after I got to a hut, I was eating my dinner while a huge storm started outside. It was actually chasing me while I was still above the bush line but I got to the hut on time. There came a few kiwi trampers soaking wet. They were nice and were really surprised to hear about the Te Araroa. A few minutes later, the door slammed open loudly and a giant dude came in, soaking wet of course, took one look at me and said: "I've been chasing you for 2 months!!!".
Apparently he is trying to hike the Te Araroa as well. He said he is a triple crown. (Walked the 3 major trails in the USA - AT, PCT and CDT) but he looks weird. He said his name is TeoK!. What the hell is a ToeK? Its a trail name. The meaning? there is none. It just sounded Dutch and apparently the hikers on the Appalachian trail thought its a funny name for a Dutch. Very weird. Oh well, not my business. I got my own hike. I'm hungry! I need to eat more but I don't have enough food until St. Arnaud.
Days: 69. Distance: 1779 km.
January 31st, 2010
I'm tired, weak and a bit in shock. I'm alone. These days on the Richmond range were just beautiful but today was a bit of a nightmare. Going up the Wairoa river was insane. Crossing the river so many times and all in up hill. I almost lost one of my shoes. I was just exhausted. Very thick bush and the route is non existent in a lot of stretches. The rain did a lot of damage. The rest of the day after lunch was nice and beautiful and then I did a mistake and got off the "route" and got lost in the jungle. For real. For more than an hour I went around in circles trying to break my way through the thickest bush I've seen since the days in the far north. I was getting worried by the minute cause darkness was near. I'm out of food and water. I got my grip back after a slight panic. I climbed on one of the trees and I saw the hut just 20 meters away. That's how thick the bush was. ToeK is nowhere to be found. Probably ahead. I like him. He is a cool hiker. Strong. A really nice guy. We talked a lot as We bumped into each other in the last couple of days. He always camps outside in his tarp. Likes nature... I wish I had this approach. That's what I've been missing. I love nature but I'm not willing to take it to the next level of hiking. Yet. Oh I'm beat. I got a mouse to entertain me tonight in this dump of a hut. I need to get to food and fast. One good thing I'm taking from this... I don't quit, I don't give up, I survive. No matter what.
Days: 71. Distance: 1817 km.
February 1st, 2010
I did it. I was weak and tired but I did it. I finished the Richmond range with no detours and got to St. Arnaud to food. I couldn't eat much at the beginning but I got my strength back. I met ToeK in the grocery store and he wants to hike with me. That's nice! I would like to try a hiking partner from here on. I think it can be funny and interesting. He has a lot of experience. I even got a trail name! Yeti! I told ToeK about the Himalayas and Dhaulagiri and the story with the old Nepalese woman that called me a monster from the mountains and he decided its a good trail name. So now its done. Yeti.... I feel stronger mentally cause I managed to get through this last stretch with the difficulties I had. I hope to get stronger.
Days: 72. Distance: 1848 km.
South Island - Its a river? Its an ocean!
February 5th, 2010
Partners. Its a real fun hiking with ToeK. I'm learning a lot. Mostly about a general approach towards nature and hiking. He is a very good hiker. It comes natural to him. I'm still not feeling nature as my home. We hiked the Travers pass and the amazing Waiau pass. There was no trail there. These were perfect days. Alpine lakes, beautiful forests, doing kilometers. A thru hike. Wow, a thru hike. This is first for me. It feels like it. I'm enjoying myself like I haven't in a long long time. My shoes are goners. I have to get to Christchurch and buy new ones. ToeK decided to join me and keep on hiking together. We'll organize food drops from there so We won't have to worry about supply points which are getting very scarce. I'm thinking about long distance hiking. It feels right for me. I still have a long way to go. To learn.
Days: 76. Distance: 1948 km.
February 8th, 2010
Its so peaceful to be back in the forest. I feel sheltered. After being in an estranged city, it is so comforting to be in my tarp in nature. The streams give life and the walking gives peace and quiet. It is a quiet like no other. The organizing went well and We got back as soon as We could. not even one minute spent unnecessary in Christchurch. Hope the new shoes won't hurt. Wow, I feel good to be back in the bush.
Days: 79. Distance: 1973 km.
February 11th, 2010
We started crossing the southern alps. The divide. Lewis pass, Harper's pass and Arthur's pass. A lot of walks along rivers. No trail and the route is there for us to invent. Nice forests but nothing really special. Now the alps are showing up. Beautiful towering white peaks. Oh, We got to a highlight. New Zealand at its best. We started to see the crazy Kea birds. They are more insane than the Weka that tried to eat my walking pole a few weeks back. Crazy mountain parrots. We crossed the 2000 km. It is a long one. For me at least. I'm starting to feel it. I'm doing this! This is it! We ford rivers, We climb mountains, We walk the bush. We are thru hiking this! There is a big storm predicted to hit tomorrow. I hope it won't be a problem with the Harper river. We don't stop for weather. The river might stop us. We got the Rakaia after that. We still don't know what is going on with that.
Days: 82. Distance: 2070 km.
February 13th, 2010
These were glorious couple of days.The southern alps, the Harper river, the bush. Practicing all the hiking skills. The rain hit badly last night and a bit this morning but the Harper river was still low. We crossed it lots of time. In New Zealand you don't ford once. You actually walk in the rivers sometimes. All was good and the Rakaia river was in our minds.... Until We saw it. From up on the ridge. God, What a monster. This is not a river! Its an ocean. We tried. We tried to ford. We could not even make it to the middle of the first branch. It was completely insane. The rain got the river flowing so fast I couldn't stand even when the water level was up to my knees.
We turned back and got back to the bank and just camped. So disappointing. But I feel like We gave it our best efforts. This is beyond hiking. We'll take one last look tomorrow morning at the river cause I believe it will bug us both for the rest of the night and for weeks to follow. Unfortunately We'll have to hitch around.
Days: 84. Distance: 2143 km.
February 14th, 2010
I forded the Rakaia, We forded the Rakaia, We survived the Rakaia. One of the most brutal and harsh days I remember and not only from this trail. And definitely one of the most dangerous ones. After We barely made it over the first 2 branches I knew in my heart and shouted towards ToeK... There is only one way to go. Forward! The fear and the freezing cold water crushed us. The river tossed us all over and hit us again and again mercilessly. It was devastating. In the last branch, the biggest and most brutal one, I saw the river just flipping Toek like a burger and spitting him on the rocks of the other bank. I was staring at this horrible sight in terror and I knew I'm gonna face one of the hardest moments I've been through in my life. I don't remember the following seconds. ToeK says I just dived in. Full body in. I remember thinking there is no point fighting the river. I'm already soaking wet. I just wanna make it alive to the other bank. The flow is in that direction. I just need to take one step forward. And I did. The next thing I remember is water in my mouth, chocking me. ToeK on the bank running along it trying to catch me. After a few seconds, which seemed like eternity I was thrown to the rocks of the other bank. I'll never forget the sense and feeling of helplessness and pettiness against this power. This brutality. The supreme beauty. Nature in its most purest and perfect form.
We couldn't move a muscle for more than an hour. An hour of uncontrolled shivering, of post trauma. We pulled our selves together and ate a bit and just walked. No destination, no nothing. We won't stop a thru hike. Tomorrow is a brand new day of excitements.
We forded the Rakaia river........ (Video)
Days: 85. Distance: 2162 km.
South Island - The Aftermath....
February 16th, 2010
The cataclysmic results of the day of the Rakaia fording started to show the day after. The sound of the flow in my ears was still echoing inside my head. I was a bit tired but in a fine physical condition. ToeK took severe beatings to his knees. He was in pain. His knees were swollen. We decided the events were traumatic enough and even if the Rangitata river is supposed to be better it is still a major deal after such rains. We had enough with taking stupid risks. We got to the Rangitata only to find out the river is high and that the decision was a good one. We wouldn't have made it with the river high. We were fine with the decision. We went across the Rangitata with a great American guy that gave us a ride to the other side of the river. Also took us to buy some food and gave us beer! Trail magic just when We most need it. I feel good with the decision We made. I feel that taking care of a friend is more important than fording another river. Life on the trail.....
Days: 87. Distance: 2237 km.
February 19th, 2010
We got to lake Tekapo after a few not easy days. It started fine but then I started vomiting and had diarrhea. It was bad. I guess I caught some virus or something. I got really weak because of this and We found a shelter just before a huge devastating storm broke loose. There were moments We actually thought the roof is gonna blow away with the ferocious winds. ToeK decided to stay and keep on hiking with me. I'm glad. We hide in the shelter until this morning and had some interesting philosophical discussions. Now for a bit of food and rest for the evening.
Days: 90. Distance: 2312 km.
February 22nd, 2010
Feels a bit like the end is near. Although We have still a way to go. We are gonna hike my suggested Mt. Aspiring route instead of the proposed Te Araroa once We get to Wanaka.
Beautiful days of the Mackenzie basin with Aoraki Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in the background. With desert terrain and beautiful big lakes. These are more relaxed days now. Doesn't look like serious challenges lie ahead. Could this be the beginning of the end? Not yet... Not yet....
Days: 93. Distance: 2397 km.
South Island - Rite of Passage
February 26th, 2010
Damn land owners. How the hell can someone fence a mountain? a river? Nature is sold out. So annoying. We got to Wanaka after some easy bush whacking, beautiful passes and amazing river walk on the Timaru. We forded the Ahuriri river a few days back and the flow was a bit fast and We took a look at each other without saying a thing. We were both thinking the same. The memory of the Rakaia river is still very much alive. But now the Timaru river was absolutely gorgeous. No trail of course. Dense beautiful bush walk after you actually walk in the river for 1 km or so. I guess it takes 3 months of hiking and countless fording of rivers to make me feel secure in my abilities and skills. I respect nature. I don't fear it. A lot of setbacks are gone through this journey. And for that I'm pleased. Could be our last major ford. Final stages and moments for it all. Feels a bit weird and a bit sad. Not yet.... Not yet.....
Days: 97. Distance: 2500 km.
March 1st, 2010
Rain and winds and more rain and more winds. We winded our way up to Aspiring and tomorrow We're going in for the final alpine route. A big beautiful bonus I planned. I hope it will be perfect. We got a bit of a storm from yesterday evening. Its such a great feeling being in my tarp and feel the power of nature hammering down on my shelter. Patience is an important quality I've been trying to acquire. Its a 100 days to this journey. 100 days of growing up. I will see the results of this hiking initiation I'm going through. I've started to see them. A thru-hiker. It is so beautiful at nights in the mountains in a full moon. Nature is sheltering, embracing and sometimes hitting you mercilessly. The beauty of the wild.
Days: 100. Distance: 2561 km.
March 3rd, 2010
Mt. Aspiring is done. The last mountain passes. The last alpine routes. The last glaciers. And it was a magnificent stretch. We got light snow and fog which gave it all a mystical atmosphere. I'm starting to feel a bit sad. Hard to explain. A big change is nearing. We saw a lot of tourists today on the way out of Aspiring and into the tiny town of Glenorchy. I met a funny Israeli female trekker with a really stupid hat. There is something different about this girl. I don't know what yet but something in my guts tell me that. She doesn't act like the rest of the tourists. She was really interested in what the hell We are doing.... Maybe I am just imagining it. The trail is ending and with it a life span. 6 days to Bluff....
Days: 102. Distance: 2625 km.
March 8th, 2010
After the roads walks of the south land, I'm now sitting and writing in the outskirts of Invercargill. The last stop before Bluff. Tomorrow, Bluff. But We're thinking about the Richmond range. Tomorrow, Bluff. But thinking about the Rakaia river. Tomorrow, Bluff. But in our hearts and minds its all about penguins and inflatable Thai girls and cocoa puffs and all kind of nonsense only We will understand. Cause that is a thru hike. Only there you get to know a person and your self to the extreme. Tomorrow, Bluff...
The sense of ending is not here yet, but tomorrow at Stirling point, at the monument it will hit. Crashing us. And with that, a huge storm will come. A storm I am planning for my next big one in about a month and a half. The Pacific Crest Trail. A storm, that the ones from back home that know me as I was before I took off, still haven't seen in my short hiking history. Things have changed. Life has changed. I have changed. I will not rest until I complete my journey. And many more will come soon. Tomorrow, Bluff. And I'm still walking.....
Days: 107. Distance: 2839 km.
March 9th, 2010
Its over. Its done. All was unplanned and funny. And its done. The Te Araroa is done. Geoff and Miriam surprised us this morning. They came especially to see us finish. Amazing. They actually hiked with us the last 6 km of the Foveaux walkway to Stirling point. To the monument. We're now in a hotel room as their guests. After a shower and a dinner. Didn't expect this. We hiked today, We finished today. With all the madness, the difficulties, the struggles, the fun and nonsense. We're done. Its a big blow. The black void started to take over. I can't think about nothing. Just wanna hide. Back in the jungles, on the coast, In the mountains. Where everything is simple and understood. Life is changing rapidly, and with them so am I. We are going to Stewart Island for an encore of New Zealand. Just a few more days to get as south as We can.
Days: 108. Distance: 2871 km.
Stewart Island - An Encore.....
March 10th, 2010
Waking up in the morning to a different reality. Surrounded with people. The emptiness inside. The black void. Its there alright. We gave an interview to the newspaper and said goodbye to Geoff and Miriam. It was hard for me. To let go. I wonder if I'll see them again one day. Soon I'll have to let go of ToeK. I cut my thru hike beard. Tomorrow, Stewart Island.
Days: 109. Distance: 2871 km.
March 14th, 2010
Yesterday We got to Mason bay. The most southern point We could reach. We got to the perfect spot, to the perfect ending in a perfect weather. It was cold, rainy and with killer winds....
It was perfect. An incredible partnership and friendship. We hiked like tourists in the last 3 days. In a slow and funny pace. We didn't care anymore. But today. Today I..., We! needed to finish it like thru hikers. And We did. I'm sad and I'm happy now. Now We're done. All the nonsense and the hardship. I'll never forget ToeK. A rare human. A great hiker. A true friend. I'll never forget New Zealand. I'll be back.... I'll be back.
Days: 113. Distance: 2950 km.
A few days have passed. I said goodbye to ToeK. It was a bit sad but We both knew that this one, this cycle of life is over. I'm taking off tomorrow. Leaving New Zealand. Leaving a home. To a new one. To a new life. Maybe this is why I'm so drawn to these thru hikes. Instead of living one life cycle, I live lots of them. Tomorrow I'm off to Hawaii, but in my heart I'm already on the PCT. Yesterday from the bus to the city I saw the Rakaia river. Maybe the biggest icon for the change in me. No more hiding. No more growing up. I'm a thru hiker now......
In the darkest storming moments of my being, with the brightest shinning lights in my soul, I have lived a thousand lives. Through icy mountains, endless seas and rivers, forests and deserts. The purity in innocence, the innocence of the wild. For now I rule a reality of my own, a wild prince of nature, an explorer of worlds.
If only could my eyes tell of the wonders they have witnessed....