It’s been a busy spring and I have hardly found the time to browse through all my images and video from New Zealand. So let’s put some pressure on myself by announcing I will start publishing a (brief) trip report soon!
I’ll subdivide the entire trip in 3 or 4 blog posts:
– Part 1: the ultra-long distance Te Araroa trail was my guide through the Queen Charlotte Sounds, the magnificent Richmond Range, Nelson Lakes National Park and the Harper Pass trail. 23 days of ridgewalks, lush green valleys, cozy huts, and often relatively easy trails, which allowed me to get physically and mentally prepared for the real deal in the hearth of the Southern Alps.
– Part 2: I strayed away from the Te Araroa in Arthur’s Pass National Park and tackled the most difficult part of the journey, often off-trail along the main divide across countless alpine passes. I picked up my packraft on the way to paddle mighty braided rivers through the wilderness. Changing weather, flooded rivers and harsh terrain made me deviate from my initial route plan a couple of times. On all but a few days I didn’t meet a single soul on this 20-day section.
– Part 3: After paddling across Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka I made it into Mount Aspiring National Park, the absolute highlight of the trip with stunning vistas and high bivy’s. After a float on the Dart River, the trip started winding down on the Routeburn, Caples and Kepler tracks and eventually with a long paddle down the Waiau river all the way into the Pacific, which I reached after almost 1300km on the trail.
– If I find the time, part 4 will deal with some shorter overnighters I made together with Elien before starting my traverse, mostly in the Ahuriri – Wanaka – Glenorchy area.
Those who like numbers and statistics can find a complete overview of all stages (including km, climbing/descent, …) in this document.
The route I eventually hiked and paddled is indicated on the map below (large file!), which you can use as a reference while reading the report.