Preparing for Te Araroa is taking up most of our free time these days. With 2,5 months to go before departure, we are trying to get a good picture of what is waiting for us and how we can deal with it best. A very important part of that is to find an acceptable balance between comfort on the road and weight, attempting to keep our backpacks as light as possible.
One of the best sources of information has been the guidebook published by the Te Araroa Trust. The book contains very detailed information on each section of the trail and narrates some of the history of the places we’ll be passing through. From this book we’ve learned that we better use the first 1500km of smooth sailing on the north island as a good calve training before ‘all hell will break loose’ in the south. With hard tramps and much fewer resupplying points the south island will be a challenge. At first we thought it would be a hard 200-300 km stretch, but as the pages showing ‘hard tramping’ and serious altitude differences kept on coming we got a little bit intimidated. The entire Southern Alps section of approximately 1000km will be, well, interesting! But of course going over the mountains will be immensely pretty too, and both of us are very much looking forward to it.
Besides of the guidebook we’ve been going through the trail notes and other peoples’ blogs. On the web we came across an extremely handy excel file summarising the notes in 22 pages, while the originals are about 250. He called it some nerdy stuff but oh Joe Delfino, you are our hero!
We will most likely take an e-reader and save the trail notes on it. They are pretty lightweight, and we can add a couple of books to our collection to get some entertainment on the road. For all our electronics we’ve been thinking about purchasing a solar cell so we can upload batteries while walking. We haven’t really figured out which one is a good investment yet, but once we found something decent it will appear on our gear list page.
We are aiming for a 15-18kg backpack load at its maximum. This means that this weight must include a long-lasting supply of food and some litters of water. We are still weighing items and calculating the ideal gear-food ratio. Our gear lists have been on constant change since we thought of the project. It feels like a never ending story but PJ a.k.a. mister gear head is on it.
Because the conditions for the north and south island tramps will be so different we will change gear in between islands. The New Zealand post has a terrific system called a ‘bounce box’. This is a package you can send onwards and that can be kept in the post office for up to three months. In there we will put some warm clothes for the mountains, half of the maps and some things we will use for traveling after we’ve completed the hike. I think we will send it to Wellington, Queenstown and Bluff, more details about it will come later.
Preparations are half of the fun for a trip (at least I think so) and it’s been great spending so much time on the whole thing. We are working on a small promo video right now that will appear on the website soon. And we just bought some nice backpack flags to decorate our packs – team Belgium-Norway is getting ready for take-off.