Saturday, June 27, 2015

Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand

Executive summary by darmansjah

What puts the Te Araroa on the top of my dream list is the variety. New Zealand is famous for its diverse landscapes, and the Te Araroa links up close to 2,000 miles of coastal sand, alpine ridges, and jungle bushwhacks traversing through national parks, rural farmland, and past volcanoes. After bagging the Triple Crown of long trails in the U.S., the Te Araroa would be the obvious target for that next big thru-hike. —Dan Ransom

Distance: 1,894 miles

The Details: The Te Araroa, Maori for “The Long Pathway,” is aptly named. It traverses the entire country, from Cape Regina at the tip of the North Island to Bluff on the toe of the South Island.

Split into 160 tracks, the trail takes about 120 days to finish, if hikers stick to official recommendations (though ultrarunner Jez Bragg ticked it off in just 53 days in 2013) and requires a ferry ride to hop between the North and South Islands. Each of those sections is a wonder in itself. The bays of Queen Charlotte Track on the South Island can be a casual stroll in paradise. The river valleys of the North Island’s Whanganui National Park shelter centuries of Maori culture. The dark Takitimu Forest feels straight out of Middle Earth. The trail tromps over the slopes of the active Tongariro volcano and even runs through the metropolis of Auckland. Add to all that natural wonder a well-organized system of volunteers and caretakers spearheaded by the Te Araroa Trust, and you indeed have one of the best places for a long walk on the planet.

When to Go: October through April

About Ransom: Photographer and filmmaker Dan Ransom followed explorers Rich Rudow and Todd Martin down numerous technical first-descent slot canyons in the Grand Canyon to make the movie Last of the Great Unknown. During filming, he dropped to the ground, suffering from the effects of a brain tumor. Ransom recovered and the movie showed to rave reviews at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. He has returned to the Grand and other canyons, as well as enjoying long backpacking trips in Utah’s Uinta mountains. He’s currently a videographer and editor at

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