The following is from an email I sent to the Te Araroa Trust. The rest of the email was me saying THANK YOU. Here’s the other part.
Here are a few suggestions I’ve thought of, on how to make the TA even better. But please know that the Trail is truly smashing and these are just little ideas to make it smash the harder. I hope they help – if not, ignore ’em!
– I’d make Spirits Bay to Cape Reinga a semi-official ‘approach trail’ like the AT has. It’s a great hike, a great warmup, and easier to escape than 90 Mile if things go pearshaped.
-Due to the forest closures, it would be amazing if there was a recommended bike hire between Ahipara (or at least Kaitaia) and Kerikeri.
-…the same goes TENFOLD for Whanganui to Palmy.
-Was Pirongia always a horrid mud bath? Like before the TA really took off? I’m genuinely curious. But… no kidding, right now it is like goddam vertical Passchendaele. Not sure if trail maintenance (water bars) would help, but I’d try anything. It was miserable.
-the Round The Mountain track at Ruapehu was one of my favorite hikes *ever*. Most of my fellow thru-trampers did it. I’d really consider making it an official part of the TA.
I know it’s complicated with the Great Walk there, but A) we do or intersect several other great walks (the river, Queen C), and B) we already have several spots on the Trail where we have to do 20-30 ks without a possible camp spot. Having one more wouldn’t be hard. Hell, I did the entire Northern Circuit in 7 hours fully loaded – wouldn’t have stopped at a hut even if I could have!
-several people got chased out of the bull paddocks after Waitomo. Bulls were ornery in December. We bushwhacked around them, hopping several fences to do so.
-the section after Te Kuiti was incredibly dangerous after a rain. I know several people who slipped more than two meters down the hillside. I fell 5 or 6 meters when the entire trail collapsed beneath me. Had to self arrest. I am honestly surprised i was not seriously injured. MANY trampers call it the most dangerous part of the trail. Without significant improvement, please – I beg you – cut it from the Trail.
-it would be incredible if there was a rain tank or two along the mountainbike path at the end of the Richmonds. That was *not* an ideal spot for a 5 hour water carry ;)
-i know the “accuracy” of DOC estimates varies greatly from tramper to tramper, but I think the estimate of Top Wairaki to the north end of Mt Linton Station is a typo. It says 8 hours. Trampers are averaging 2.
-the ridge walk above Stag Saddle should be the official route, with the TA high point adjusted accordingly. The current descent should be the bad weather option, not the official trail. Not the least because… that’s how everyone does it.
-the Rangitata Hazard Zone should end at Mt Sunday (Edoras). It’s a fantastic spot… a super easy hitch out… there’s a lodge along the way… and it would be a great place to put up an info sign about the TA and educate folks.
– I’d also love a TA info sign at the start of the Tongariro Crossing. Maybe then people would have a clue about why we were there, swimming against the current of humanity :)
– since in daydreaming, I’d also love such a sign on the southern side of Hakarimata, on Kaukau over Wellie, at Ship Cove, at Pelorus Bridge, at Blue Lake hut, at the Greenstone/Caples start, at the Mavora Lakes campground, and ideally as a photo op in downtown Wanaka and Queenstown. You know, where pretty people can see us posing!
– it would be great if the TA shop sold plain orange triangles, and also plain orange triangle patches. As with the white blazes on the AT, these are really our symbols, in a way.
– is the TA facebook page official? Because it’s run by a moderator who everyone thinks is horrible. Ive never used the page because it sounds so terrible. Literally most trampers tell Judith jokes. With, like, *incredible* frequency.
– I’d love it if there was something like Trail Days for the TA, where people could hitch ahead or back to meet up for a day of meeting, partying, and ideally getting to meet vendors. Daydreaming now, I’d have two: a North Island meetup in Hamilton on the first Tuesday in December, and a South Island meetup in maybe Tekapo or TwiVegas on the first Tuesday in February. That way, south and north islanders could get a day, and nobos and sobos as well.
– I’d love it if Trail Notes mentioned morevsuggested side hikes. Even full- or multi-day hikes like the Ruapehu circuit.
– I’d LOVE it if trailnotes mentioned huts that were off trail but nearby. Especially for those who want to zero and don’t want to take up a TA bunk when they do it.
– please mention in Trailnotes that the Lake Coleridge Hotel sells soft drinks and beer, all day :-)
TA Class of 2018-19