Campsite Elevation: 810ft/247m
Our plan was a relaxed leave time from town. We still had some errands to run and wanted to line up camping in a certain spot two nights from today. We made breakfast at the hostel and checked out at 10am. We had all of Becky’s old gear and wanted to go to the post office to send it to a family Becky knows here. We also were excited to weigh it to find out the grand total of the the weight lost in the makeover. The people at the post offices here have been super nice compared to US postal workers and were very nice to weigh the packs for us. We did the base pack weights (the pack with gear without food and water) and found that Becky had cut 4.4kg/9.7lbs! She had been carrying basically 190% of the weight I had! Her old base pack weight (without food and water) was 12.75kg/28.1lbs and her new one is 8.35kg/18.4lbs. For comparison sake, mine weighed in at 6.58kg/14.5lbs (with poles). What a difference!As a total of what we changed, it was almost everything. We upgraded the pack and tent from old ones I no longer use, and then got her new clothes (pants, rain jacket, down jacket), a down sleeping bag, and new utensils. She also sent home many things (I had already had her drop at least 1lb of gear over the last few weeks). Today, she decided she didn’t need full on sandal shoes with Velcro straps(she got flip flops), a big metal pocket knife with metal kitchen utensils, a big lock for hostels, a pack cover (now using an internal trash bag), and a Kindle. It was really fun to just look over all day and see the change. We both were just so happy! To think the effort Becky has had to put in to lug all that and keep up the pace we’ve been doing the last three weeks! The pack compressed down really well and actually looks smaller than mine even though it weighs more. Since it is my old pack, and Becky is taller than me, she could probably use a size up with a longer torso, but this may be sufficient. This five day stretch will be a good test for how the pack feels and if it’s too small, but given what she was wearing before, she’s happy even if it isn’t a perfect fit. Makeover complete!
As we were walking out, we stopped by a store for Becky to get some flip flops and ran into brother and sister pair, Softwalker (who I’ve mentioned I know from the PCT & CDT) and Laurel. They were going to run some errands as well and then head out. They had just gotten mohawk-esque haircuts just for fun.
The walk out of Hamilton was a combo of nice residential walking, bumpy farmland, paved roads, and gravel roads.
There was a great arboretum we passed through that we both really liked.
Hamilton is a town many hitch to that don’t want to do a lot of the road walking out of Auckland. Because of that, there was suddenly quite the crowd in Hamilton while we were there and we all left out with the same goal today. The Guthook app has spread quickly it seems, which is great, but also selfishly bad, ha! The app has marked possible camp spots you wouldn’t know about if you didn’t have it. That is one of my favorite features. Since it is new, it sometimes has less detail than it does on other trials. So, it says there is possible camping, but it’s a surprise as to the quality of the spot and how many tents will fit. Well, everyone seems to have headed for the same spot and thankfully, it was an open area. We had plenty of farmland walking and saw a farm of deer, which was a first. One curious one came over to the fence for Becky to pet him. The quote of the day is when he tried to follow along the fence and Becky kindly and seriously told him “I have to go, I need to get the ring to Mordor.” Spoken like a true LOTR fan, ha!
Before we got to camp, we were able to fill up our water at a hose from a local who was really nice and put out a sign for hikers to get water rather than pulling from a source downstream of a ton of sheep.
There was road walking that then changed over to a gravel road, and for the first time, we felt like we saw the scenery that NZ is known for. Rolling green hills with plenty of sheep. It was great! One hiker that we met out for a short section said that he picked this section because it was listed as one of the top six parts of the TA. We found most of today to be really peaceful and scenic and both were just really happy. It may have been still the buzz from the gear makeover, but we really enjoyed today.
We ended up with 12 people at camp tonight. I’m really trying to embrace this aspect, but my hermit side is pushing back at times. Don’t get me wrong, I want to stress that everyone is super nice! Matt and Laurel are back a bit and Angelynn and Heartbreaker are ahead a bit. It’s funny because I’d met everyone (except one hiker out on a short trip) before. Most of them are the people I camped with my first night on trail. So funny to see they are all still overlapping! They all are hitching roads and even hitched some of today’s walk. It’s so prevalent out here and is a completely different take of cherry picking rather than thru-hiking. Honestly, it’s something Becky and I have trouble relating to and it is a bit tough to be around that mentality. I’d say 75% of people claiming to be “thru-hiking” the TA hitch. Yes, hike your own hike and enjoy the experience, but there is a big difference in thru-hiking the length of a country, and cherry picking parts of a trail to hike, while also claiming a full thru-hike. It’s something we try not to think about because it is so prevalent, but it is something we’d prefer not to be around at the same time. It’s just a different mindset and tough to relate to. I know some may not like my thoughts on this topic or find it judgmental, but it is a factor in this hike and one I feel I should be honest about as it is like the elephant in the room and many ask me about that factor of this hike. Yes, people are free to do as they please, and it is difficult for me to put into words, but it is just a different mentality that doesn’t match ours. We are obviously in the minority, and I want to point that out for anyone coming on this trail as it is a daily interaction and the prevalence of it is quite higher than any other trail.
It’s difficult to explain it, but it’s not necessarily a judgement as a feeling. There is a unique bond among people on thru-hikes that comes from a shared common experience. You may not have done each section together, but there is that immediate bond when you know what the other has been through and that you’ve been through it too. You both can reflect on all the ups and downs and commiserate about You know how hard you have both worked to be where you are and it is unsaid. There is a bond that you’ve both set out on something that will be both physically and mentally challenging knowing it won’t always be easy or enjoyable, but that those difficult times are what make the good ones that much better. That bond and understanding just isn’t as strong with people who aren’t walking the same path. It’s like meeting someone from the same state you grew up in vs someone that grew up in the same town. What I’m trying to say is that I miss that bond out here and I wish I could experience it more.
I do have to say, I’m pretty excited to be camped in relative wilderness! We are just outside of a residential area in some farmland and the scenery is wonderful. Becky is in the Tarptent Contrail for the first night and cuddled in her oh so fluffy down jacket and sleeping bag. We are surrounded by about 10 other tents, and there are a couple people laying out (almost 10pm) next to my tent listening to spacey music on a phone, and I hear the repeated clicking of something being passed and lit, the word cocaine came up in conversation…I’m trying to ignore that…
I have mad respect for what you do so this is not a criticism but a genuine question. I followed your GDT blog and if I recall you hitched some road walks to get to the next trailhead. I guess I’m wondering why, given your position on hitching. I’m planning my first thru-hike and just wondering what a purist’s point of view is.
Love your blog. Thanks for sharing.
No offense taken. I didn’t hitch any of the GDT. Maybe it was written poorly. There were hitches to town and back, but no trail was missed.
My mistake. I thought you hitched from, for example, Jasper to the Miette TH but it must have been back to the road where you left off. That makes sense.
I wanted to hit like, like, like after each paragraph and photo as if I were on Facebook.
10 lbs lighter? Well done!
Good onya for your thru-hike mindset. I’m with you.
I wonder if you took the boat over from Opua to Waikaire or walked the road?
As a true thru hiker (in your mind) you’d only rely on transport when it’s not possible to walk e.g. ferry from NI to SI.
People hitch for safety. You need to get over that and quit looking down on other’s hike.
Totally agree with Buttons.i cannot wait to see if Wired will road walk around the Rakaia (about 50km) ,hitch it or ford it..same for the Rangitata river..
Also in Queenstown…you can road walk it if you want (70km) or take the ferry to the other shore..i did road walk because i got evicted from the ferry..was so pissed and afterward felt stupid about doing it because i was in a similar mind set as Wired now (hike every mile of trail)…for the sake of a continuous hike but now over it…it is i think smarter/safer to get a ride when possible and skip any road walk and it is really not nice to look downward on hikers who decide to skip the road walks or sections…there is more to see in NZ than just staying on the TA..may be skipping some sections gives time to explore other places…
But please Wired keep being yourself and write it the way you feel..it is so interesting…
Yeah, maybe rewording it would help. It’s just being around people with different approaches that also bleeds into different overall life thoughts/cultures that’s hard. They can skip all they want, but just don’t go home and say they hiked the TA is all I’m saying. Not that these people are. Some are, but not all.
Well the Rakaia and Queenstown parts are natural breakes in the continiuum of the TA. So hitching these would not mean to have not thru-hiked to my understanding. There is no TA in these parts!
The Rangitata can be forded, I did it myself.
We are thinking about the bungee jump in Queensland as a side trip though!
To clarify, many are NOT doing it for safety, but for ease.
Not sure where that section is you mentioned, but we took boats where the TA track says to and are following the prescribed trail.
Which is the official route? Erin will have taken that one.. it’s not rocket science
I’m with you. Make a journey any way you like, but if you want to claim a thru hike of a trail, the whole trail needs to be hiked. God speed.
I’m with Wired, if you want to take the title thru hiker, you should walk all sections. Amazed with how light you manage to get your packs. I find food alone is close to a kg a day, and think I do well to get down to 13kg in total on my back.
Yes, those amounts are without food. Food tends to be about 1kg/2lbs per day.
Wired and Becky are badasses hiking the length of New Zealand via the TA and doing it right. Good on you two from a member of the TA class of 2012/13!
I don’t know how you do it, but I really appreciate your blog. It lets me relive the TA through your writtings. I experienced the same endless beaches, muddy trails and long road walks last year. Though the TA is way better on the South Island, as you have discovered, it’s not a wilderness experience. Long before arriving in Bluff most hikers found it to be more about the the people they meet and hung with than the trail itself.
Hitching and skipping – Hitching presents a slippery slope. At first some skip around a busy road or two, then all roads because they suck, then crappy or dangerous parts and finally whole sections that just don’t look good. If they go down this slope too far they miss a big part of what long distance hiking is all about.
Yes, I agree. To each their own, and I’m not saying the parts they skip are scenic or enjoyable, but it sure does give a different feeling at the top of a peak knowing all you went through to get there.
Totally agree with Wired but some persons have a different mind set/point of view and for them even if skipping the road walks or some sections they still believe they walk the entire trail which makes mad purist like Wired who will walk every inch of the official trail. There is space for both purist and non purist on the TA… Enjoy the upcoming Tararuas
It cracks me up how some people get all precious about your opinion on this matter. Telling you to “stop looking down” on others hike when you NEVER made any notion of looking down on anyone. You are just stating facts about this trail. My god some people are pathetic! Please keep writing your truthful honest insights!
Oh, and big props to,you for helping Becky so much. That pack difference is amazing! Your kindness to her should show people who follow this blog what sort of person you really are!
So I would have to say it comes down to Truth. Ok, So let’s say I achieved the Triple Crown, but I skipped and flipped a little. It just wouldn’t be truthful enough to talk about truthfully and would affect my interactions with other thru’s on countless subjects. Does this make sense.
More importantly, almost 10 pounds was lost. How Awesome is this. Makes a big difference at the end of the day. Enjoy your journeys.
I remember on your 2011 PCT thru that you were very proud of “no flipping, no skipping” (in a VERY high snow year), so you are true to when you first started hiking. I understand and agree with your points of view. Great trip, your blog is A+, thank you for sharing
I love that you remember that:)
Do you see a lot of drug and alcohol use on the more popular trails (PCT, CDT, AT, TA)? I don’t necessarily have a problem with it as long as it doesn’t impede on other people’s experience or hurt the trails, but it does seem a bit odd. Maybe it’s the trails that are closer to urban areas that allow this behavior to be more prevalent (AT, TA). Interested to hear your experience.
I’d say that drugs and alcohol are definitely there (usually at the back of the pack), but they can be avoided. A younger crowd has been pulled to thru-hiking and there seems to be partying in some groups, but usually you can be clear of it if you are surrounded by like minded people. The groups tend to form and overlap less, but on this track, the partiers can skip easily and keep reappearing. That is a concern and I hope it doesn’t happen too often. There are limited spots to stay in towns and camp legally, so that can make finding solitude difficult on the TA.
Seems like it’s the difference between a thru-journey and a thru-hike I guess.
Anna, your quote is spot on. “Oh, and big props to you for helping Becky so much. That pack difference is amazing! Your kindness to her should show people who follow this blog what sort of person you really are!”. This is exactly who Wired is. For those of you who have not been along with her since 2011, I encourage you to go and check out all her adventures up to this point. It will be a very fun and educational experience.
Erin, I thought about the fact somebody mentioned that Becky still does not have a trail name yet. So I couldn’t help but think about what Becky had to do to even begin the trail. Then she has continued to progress so much. So I originally thought of “Transformer”, but that is masculine. Then I thought of “Blossom” because wthat is essentially the same. I know I’m not there so I’ll bow out now but Becky has worked so hard and she really does deserve a trail name. I think if you took a pol, many would say how much they admire her. I know I do.
FWIW, I’d call Becky Schmetterling (butterfly).
Haha, that’s my favorite because it also sounds like a LOTR name. However, I think it will remain Becky. Trail names aren’t really used out here and I can’t see her as anything else at this point. She’s totally Becky to me.
Warren, that’s what I don’t understand. People who make assumptions on someone’s character without ever meeting them. wired doesn’t have to post all this info, but she does. People should be grateful for it, but as is so typical in this day and age, people are quick to cut people down who are doing good in their lives.
Keep on hiking and blogging YOUR way wired x
Wired, super great job with Becky’s makeover! I dropped pack weight too first from meeting Goaltech and then from him your blog. I’ve studied all your gear posts and there is a lot of wisdom gained. A while back you wrote that these blogs are your “journal” to reflect on in for future years and you shouldn’t have to change anything. I don’t always agree however I also don’t walk in your shoes. I’m a trail purist too and understand how you feel about walking ever step. Looking forward to Becky’s trail name too. Safe travels.
Oh that’s cool to hear that about GoalTech!