Saturday, April 28, 2012

Place holder

Te Araroa trail

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Te Araroa Finish line celebration for 6 trampers

The last piece of single track around Bluff on the Te Araroa trail.

dbBrad at the End of the Te Araroa trail.  135 days and 2600 km hiked.

Charlie Barran, Arnaud Zdziobeck, dbBrad, Ludo and Flore, and Richard at the finish line for the Te Araroa trail, 2012

dbBrad airborn at the end of the Te Araroa trail, Bluff.

Charlie Barran burning his shirt which he'd been talking about doing for weeks!

Ludo and Flore relax on a soft surface and admire their picture in the Southland Times.

Richard walks down the street with a copy of the Southland times, conveniently hiding the other trampters!!

Arnaud Zdziobeck finishes the Te Araroa trail with two Manuka wood walking sticks which he carved.

Final days of TA with CB, AZ, and DB

dbBrad furniture

Arnaud Zdziobeck

dbBrad Hankins

Charlie Barran

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Doubtful Sound of Te Araroa freestyle

The Te Araroa trail has some amazing tracks.  At the same time it misses some even more amazing tracks.

Hydro plant on lake Manapouri

I suspect, without knowing all about the politics involved, that the Te Araroa deliberately skirts the 'great walk' tracks of New Zealand.  DoC (Department of Conservation) probably frowned upon having thru hikers adding wear and tear to their money makers.

Doubtful Sound as viewed from a pass built specifically for a hydro electric plant.

It's probably better this way since the huts along the great walks require reservations and can be quite expensive, both of which aren't well aligned with the notion of thru hiking.

The little stunt boats at Doubtful Sound get way out of the water!

And what is the notion of thru hiking?  I suggest that it's not about the trip or where you are or when you're there, but it's about living in the now.

Those who have hiked with me along the way have heard my spiel, that the trail shouldn't be planned, it should just happen.  Preparation for the rigorous requirements of the trail is important, but planning all the details is absolutely not required.

No fur seals along the Te Araroa, unless you go freestyle!

For one, who can say when you'll be where and why should you have to.   The point is to enjoy the hike where you are, when you are there, and to make informed decisions about your activities and your progress as needed.  If it's raining the rivers may be high and can't be crossed.  The tides may prohibit crossing estuaries.  Sore legs may warrant a day off.

dbBrad where Doubtful sound meets the Tasman Sea.

And you may meet someone interesting who is doing something outside of the trail which you've been invited to join.  Planning will only result in one thing--constantly feeling under the gun to meet your schedule--and what kind of a vacation is that?

So I've adopted a 'Freestyle' method for the Te Araroa.  Not only am I making decision about my progress on the trail based on current information available to me, I'm making decisions about the trail based on what I want to see of New Zealand.

So, it is with this philosophy, that I deviated from the Te Araroa trail at Queenstown for a few days of adventure far more exciting than a small portion of the Greenstone Track with its 47k of dirt road, the portion I skipped.

Doing the Te Araroa 'freestyle'  started when I was trying to find  a way around lake Wapatipu, the lake which defines Queenstown.  The best option available was to take a bus run by a tramping service up around the north end of the lake and down to the beginning of the trail.

What I noticed though is that this bus ride takes you right past several other amazing hikes, one of which is the Routeburn Track.  I decided to get off the bus at the Routeburn Track and hike it instead.

dbBrad in front of a waterfall over 1000m high (3000 feet)

Routeburn Track ends at Cascade Saddle where one can then join the other end of the Greenstone Track or even make a loop with the Caples Track.

dbBrad on Doubtful Sound cruise, Te Araroa freestyle route.

It also takes you to the Milford Te Anau road which is how one accesses Milford Sound, a New Zealand must see.

Doubtful I would have seen this on the Te Araroa trail, but still a sound decision!

However in talking with locals, particularly Mike and Louise at Lake Ohau lodge, I found out about Doubtful Sound.  A smaller more remote and less commercialized sound.

For 219 NZ$ I was able to book an adventure including a ferry ride, an amazing bus ride over an incredible pass built during the construction of a hydroelectric scheme and down to Doubtful Sound where I boarded a boat for an over night cruise.  This included an amazing dinner and breakfast, and then a return on the same bus and ferry, 24 hours later.  Stunning trip, great value, more fun than walking a gravel road for two days and it's part of the dbBrad Te Araroa freestyle route!

The hills with the waterfalls in the background are 1200m or more, almost 4,000ft tall.
And that's how I was able to see a place I know I didn't want to miss but wasn't on the Te Araroa pathway.

So am I cheating the trail--maybe.  But am I cheating myself--absolutely not.  There are other hikers on the trail that want to walk every single section, rain or shine, road or mud.  I admit at the beginning of my tramp this was my goal too, to walk every single step.

Doubtful sound, NZ

Yet now that I've adopted a freer more spontaneous and informed way to travel the trail, I still can say I hiked  the entire length of New Zealnad and I did it on the Te Araroa trail, but I did a whole lot more too.

Lake Manapouri, Te Araroa freestyle route!