Te Araroa Trail – Getting to the Trail
Sunday – Tuesday. October 22-24, 2023
Miles Today/ Total: 13,528 km/ 8,257 mi (via airplane, bus, and car)
My daughter, Haley, came by on Sunday afternoon and took me to the Tulsa airport to begin my next adventure.
It started out a little rough with my first flight being delayed about 25 minutes (and I only had a 50 minute layover in Las Vegas). Despite the late start I was still able to make my connection since it was running late also. I made it to LAX (Los Angeles World Airport) about 11:00pm. My next flight wasn’t until 7:00am so I had a little wait ahead of me. I thought I might get some sleep, but couldn’t find anywhere comfortable to rest.
The Hawaiian Airlines check-in was supposed to open at 4:00am and I got the first spot in line. It was about 4:45am before they opened and I was able to check in my bags, and get my boarding passes before heading to the security checkpoint. They didn’t open until 5:00am and I had another line to wait in for a few minutes before making it through security.
The first leg of my flight was from LAX to Honolulu HI and I was given a free upgrade to a comfort plus seat situated right by the door for a quick exit when we deboarded. This was the first wide-body plane I have flown in and it had 2 seats on each side of an aisle and 4-5 seats in the middle (comfort plus had only 4 seats, economy had 5).
Since I had been up most of the night, I promptly fell asleep as the plane took off. I slept about 4 hours on and off and feeling a little more rested I was awake for the end of the trip.
I had a 2 1/2 hour layover in Honolulu and took a little bit of time to look around (all behind security though so I wouldn’t have to go through again). They had a really nice outdoor courtyard and I went down to check it out.
Back on the plane for my second flight I my 8 1/2 hours, sleeping, eating and watching a couple of movies. It seemed to pass faster than I thought it would. I arrived in Auckland about 10:00 and worked my way through immigration and bio-security. New Zealand is pretty strict on bringing any plant or dirt into their country and I had to unpack by backpack so they could see there was nothing on my camping gear.
After a short shuttle ride I made it to my hotel about 11:30. It was nicely situated in downtown Auckland with a great view of the Sky Tower from my window. I unpacked a little and crawled into bed to get caught up on my sleep.
Wednesday October 25, 2023
I slept in until about 9:00am this morning and had some big plans for the day. Unfortunately the weather was already working against me and my sea kayaking trip out to Rangitoto Island was canceled due to the weather. I spent the day doing my food resupply, packing up my bounce box, and packing up my gear for my trip.
Thursday October 26, 2023
Getting most of my chores done Wednesday left Thursday open for some site seeing. I found a Auckland Central walking tour online and walked around for a couple of hours seeing my the sites. I grabbed some lunch and headed back to the hotel.
I washed my laundry and finished packing up my bounce box before taking it down to the post office. I’ve heard people complain about the cost to mail boxes in New Zealand, but it was actually less than in the US and the box was probably twice the size.
I finished my last day in Auckland with a nice steak dinner at Tony’s original steakhouse.
Friday October 27, 2023
I set my alarm for 6:00am this morning and I didn’t want to get up when it went off. I forced myself up, showered, dressed, and packed up my backpack for the trip to Kaitaia.
The bus left at 7:30 am and was soon zipping down twisting roads following the hills and shoreline toward Kaitaia. I arrived at the Beachcomber Lodge about 2:15, checked in, and got to meet several other hikers who traveled up with me and some who were already there.
On the trip up I received some weather reports about a pretty strong storm expected to come through Sunday – Monday. The big concern was the high winds and possible storm surge along the 90 mile beach walk. After reviewing the various weather sources I made a decision to sit the storm out in Kaitaia and start the trail Monday.
One of my bunk mates had a vehicle and was up here working as a shuttle driver for TA hikers trying to get to the trail. I made arrangements with him for a ride on Monday and found a couple other hikers to share the ride with. I’m all set now, just get to wait 2 more days to start.
Saturday October 28, 2023
The bed was comfortable and I slept really good last night. I was up early and discovered that businesses in Kaitaia don’t start opening until 7:00 (some of the coffee shops weren’t open until 8:00). I fixed some coffee at the hostel and waited until 7:00 to head down the road to get some breakfast.
I spent the day visiting with other hikers, some of which had already completed the first 115km of the trail and back to Kaitaia. Most of the hikers we’re staying through the weekend to let the storm pass before venturing back onto the trail. I’m anxious to get started and the day seemed to drag on.
I went to dinner with Jonathan (another hiker staying at the hostel) and had my first New Zealand Fish & Chips. The fist was delicious and the chips (fries) were pretty good too. Jonathan suggested I try a fried pineapple and it was delicious.
I was tired from my day of doing nothing and turned in about 10:00.
Sunday October 29, 2023
I was up around 7:30 this morning and just in time to head down to a local tavern and catch the Rugby World Cup Champions. The New Zealand All Blacks were playing against the South African Springboks. Unfortunately the New Zealand team loss, but it was an interesting game and the first pro rugby game I’ve ever seen.
After the game I returned to the hostel and visited with the other hikers. About 2:00 the next batch of hikers arrived on the bus from Auckland adding about 10 new hikers to the group. I visited with them for awhile before finding a good Wi-Fi signal so I could download the New Zealand topo maps for my trip tomorrow.
I enjoyed dinner with Steve and Jonathan tonight and when we got ready to leave the restaurant the rain and winds had picked up and we got slightly wet on the way back to the hostel.
I visited with the new hikers a little more in the evening and headed to bed about 9:00 excited to get started on my hike tomorrow.