Te Araroa Connects New Zealand

TeAraroaMapTe Araroa is the world’s newest long distance trail. It connects north to south, island to island, beaches to mountains, and people to people. Officially opened in December 2010, Te Araroa (pronounced┬átee are-a-rho-a) is 3,000 km or 1,864 miles long. It leads hikers into blossoming rain forests, over volcanic mountain ranges, along windswept beaches, and through one of the most enigmatic countries on Earth: New Zealand.

Te Araroa begins at the ‘leaping off place for spirits,’ Cape Reinga. It’s said that Maori spirits journey to the northern tip of New Zealand where the Tasman Sea and South Pacific collide, to leap into the eternal waters. From there, hikers trudge southward for roughly 4 months to the southern tip of New Zealand, Bluff.

Te Araroa is the accidental brainchild of New Zealand journalist Geoff Chapple. In what seems like a bout of severe writer’s block, Chapple pitched the idea of building a “Long Trail” as a means to bring a politically divided country together. It was more of a theory than anything else until the idea caught hold. Not long after that, Chapple hiked across New Zealand to lay the initial tracks for Te Araroa.

Scene at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

The Te Araroa Trust continues to build and improve sections of trail as it gains popularity worldwide.┬áThe official guidebook, A Walking Guide to New Zealand’s Long Trail, was published in 2011. Though it’s not easy to come by in the United States, you can always read trail descriptions and view maps on the Te Araroa website.