Te Araroa | The Long Pathway

Te Araroa. One of the world’s truly great long walks.

At 2996 km, stretching from Cape Reinga, the tip of the North Island to Bluff, the southern end of Highway 1, it rates in length.

The quality of the scenery is generally up there, plenty varied.

Even the 1309 km of the South Island part that this website concentrates on.

What is not apparent from the distance is exactly how new Te Araroa is as a whole. It was only finally established in 2011.

The tracks are not always new, Te Araroa is cobbled together from existing backcountry trails, like the Alpine Route, the Two Thumbs Range, parts of old walkways, the St James and Mavora Lakes, parts of National Park tracks, from St Arnaud over Waiau Pass to Caroline Creek Bivvy, and from Harper Pass to Lagoon Saddle, and various old farm tracks. But some important linking sections were needed to complete the Trail: the Motatapu and through the Takitimus and Longwood Forest.

It’s variable with the accommodation provided as well. Official campsites along the Queen Charlotte Track. Plenty of comfy huts in the forested areas from the Pelorus to past Hamilton Hut, you can get by without a tent if an enthusiastic walker. South from there the huts become sporadic with significant gaps. In Southland there’s a few days where even finding a decent tent space somewhat near water requires ingenuity. And there is only one hut, Martins Hut, in the last 192 km, ie, once you leave Lower Wairaki Hut.

It’s a grand journey where you can settle into a routine, entirely up to you how much trudging is required to get the feeling of accomplishment each day.

Te Araroa is away from digital connectivity for the most part, you can concentrate on the basics of existence and find a distraction free perspective on life.

Because of the length the South Island section of Te Araroa has been split into four parts, each about 300 kilometres long . . .

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Ship Cove/Meretoto to Boyle Village | Te Araroa

Early morning view down the Pelorus River from near Slaty Hut. | Ship Cove to Boyle Village, Te Araroa

Variety of landscapes?

This is the section of Te Araroa where you get the full smorgasbord.

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Boyle Village to Tekapo | Te Araroa

The tussock country has a totally different feel from the forested areas further north, and the huts are generally older and more sporadic.

Many rate the Two Thumbs Range as the highlight of their adventure. It’s sure up there.

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Tekapo to Queenstown | Te Araroa

Five big turquoise lakes, and a few smaller. Gently rolling countryside with a backdrop of the Southern Alps.

Sounds idyllic. Yes, siree.

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Queenstown to Bluff | Te Araroa

Almost to Taipo Hut on the Mavora Walkway. | Queenstown to Bluff, Te Araroa

The big, beautiful Lake Wakatipu and its magnificent mountainous backdrop, and the smaller, similarly picturesque Mavora Lakes. Some serious tussock country in the Takitimu Range. Lots of farmland visited via farm tracks. Pine plantations. Native forest. Some gold mining history at Round Hill. Beach walking and views. The final tedious Invercargill to Bluff trudge with 21 km of walking on a highway verge. The iconic signpost at the end of Highway 1, and that Now what? question.