Trail stories

In 1998, when online journals were in their infancy, Geoff Chapple was one of the first to walk Te Araroa. He took one of the earliest digital cameras, a laptop and a mobile phone and posted stories of his journey.

In the decades since, many other Te Araroa walkers have also recorded and shared their journeys. Their stories give us a powerful insight into Te Araroa and New Zealand.

Not all who walk Te Araroa describe their adventure online, but those who do leave a vivid record. These are their stories.

Paul J Ayres - Gear Video

Richard Hoskins - Instagram

Sharon- Freewheeling Kiwi - YouTube

Freedom on the Trail - YouTube

Jasmine Williams - Jazz Hikes - Instagram

Rikard Anderson - Instagram

Elle De Smet - Instagram

Finlay Turner - Instagram - website

Sam Allen - Instagram  (from 18 October)

Bibi June Schwithal - Instagram

Sarah Williams - YouTube - Instagram

Leah Meurie - Instagram 

Annemarie Athey - Instagram - Blog 

Parker M (Shortwave) - Instagram

Kiersten Elise - Instagram

Melina - Instagram

Sarah Boyd - Instagram

Yumi Yimi - Instagram (Japanese)

Sime Donoghue - Instagram

Rachel Vulinovich - Instagram

MonarchandWoW - Trail Journal

Zilla van Aartrijk - Blog

Uwe Stemmer - YouTube

Colin and Pauline  - Blog

Sandre Milliken - Instagram

Mathieu Coccia - Instagram

Erin Rhone - Instagram

Anna Maura Leemburg - YouTube

Olga Dzhyginas - Instagram

Sharon Evans - YouTube - Instagram - Facebook - TikTok - Twitter - Threads

Matt Tomkins - Instagram

Jenny Bjärne - Instagram

Louisa Raymond - Instagram

Martin Brunner - Blog

Alex Bullivant (Lazy Llama) - Instagram

Jonathan Southward - Blog

Sophie Cresswell - Instagram

Blair - Instagram - Blog

Jan Rumig - Instagram 

Conny Martin - Polarsteps

Krista and Ties Blaauw - Instagram - YouTube

Curtis Stallworthy - The Backcountry Hiker - blog

Sarah Jackson Blog

Jenny Massey - Blog

Harriet - Blog, Instagram

Stella Drury - Blog 

Alexa - Instagram

Niall McCormack - YouTube 


Jenny and Gerard Wells - website and Instagram

Kirstie and Roger Twiname - Blog

Richard Soult - Instagram

Sandra Davies - Blog and Instagram

Avery Duckett - Instagram

Viktoria Koehler - Instagram

Markus Kauhanen - Facebook - Instagram

Helen Cornwell - Facebook - Instagram  

Curtis Stallworthy - YouTube 

Danielle Rae - Facebook - Instagram 

John Ram - Website - Instagram

Robyn Chappell - Facebook - Instagram 

David and Sue Till - Instagram - Facebook 

Curtis Stallworthy - YouTube

Victoria and Emilie - Givealittle - Instagram 

Alex Ker - Blog 

Erin Cooksley  - Blog - Instagram Facebook

Wayne Rohrs - YouTube

Jacqui Evans - Facebook 

Holly Pfeiffer -  Blog / FundraisingInstagram

David Hoskins - Facebook 

Yoginee Patel - Facebook

Tahlia Travels - Instagram

Roland - Facebook / Instagram

Amanda Farmilo - Fundraising PageInstagram

Shelby and Jordan - You Tube / Instagram 

Chrissie Wright - Facebook 

Lisa Fahrenberger - Facebook 

Rick W. Chen - Instagram / Blog 

Michelle Green (Long White Gypsy) YouTube / Blog / Instagram

Mark Kerr -  FacebookBlog / Fundraising 

Jason Povis - Instagram

Hone Plaister - Instagram

Uwe Stemmer - YouTube

Michel and Hilde - Instagram 

Fiona Imlach - Blog

Kat Young - Blog 

Dom Magnusson - Blog

Pete and Lizzie Cook - Instagram

Candis Hawkins - Website

Michelle Green (Long White Gypsy) - YouTube - Blog - Instagram

Spencer Matthews  -  Instagram

Lewis Matthews - Running TA - Facebook / Instagram

Gail Curtis - Fundrasing Page

Montana O'Neill - Facebook - Fundrasing Page 

Jon from Black Ribbon - Facebook 

Gabrielle George - Website 

Natalie Gallant - Website

Kay Chapman - Blog

Pete and KK - Walk.laugh.wonder - Blog

Syd King - Instagram

Michael Geck  Blog

Amber Nicole Parle  Blog / Instagram

Claire Gaide Instagram

Alex McMillen - Website / Instagram

Matthew Gordon - Blog

George Henderson - Blog 

Sarah Jackson Blog

Ruben Rauch Instagram

Dave + Baxter Murray - Walk the TA Website / Instagram / Facebook

Brook van reenen   Facebook / Instagram

Walk for Wiggly Eyes   Website / Instagram / Facebook / Youtube

Jenny Jansson   Instagram 

Veronika Laskova   Instagram / Blog

Gerben van der Zwaard   Instagram

Mickey & Michelle - musical tour on foot   Website / Instagram / Facebook

Edward Colenbrander   InstagramBlog / Gearlist 

Danny Strayer   Website / Instagram / Facebook 

Anouk Bommer   Instagram

Lucy Clarke   Website / Instagram / Facebook

Trailblazer Johnny - Instagram

Sonja & Tim - Blog

Dean Raynel - Website 

Katrina Megget - Website/Blog

Heiko Strassl - Website

Taya Fabijanic - Website and Instagram 

Sebastian Isaksson - Instagram 

Caleb Harris  Read Blog 

Owen Vaughan Follow Owens Facebook page

Eiji Kitai   Read Blog  Facebook (Japanese/English)

Iain McAllister   Read Blog

Bruce Hopkins   Facebook | Website | Radio NZ podcasts

Peter Johnston - Website

Catriona Maurice Instagram

Matthew Hill  Read Blog

Siri Beisvåg Rom and Anne Lill Instagram

Dan Sanson Read Blog

Sara Vriends Read Blog | Instagram

Julie Stacey  Facebook

Tarek Penser Instagram

Valeria Mikhailova Instagram

Nathalie Du Marais Facebook

Marjolein Drenth Instagram

Sergio Colta Instagram

Anja Spitzer and Simon Walter Read Blog

Wayne and Jan Read Blog | Instagram

James Fairman Facebook

Ben and Natalie Read Blog

Anja and Markus Sachse Read Blog (in German)

Jasper van Riet Paap and Marjon van Rijn Read Blog (in Dutch) | Read Blog | Instagram

Klaus Lampacher and Gisela Hutter Read Blog (in German) | Instagram

Sebastiaan Krijnen and Eline Veldboer Read Blog

Cate Hampton-Kerr Facebook

Llew Bardecki Read Blog

Theo Stanley Instagram

Elizabeth Baker and Mckenzie Clark Youtube Video

Elaine and Dave Alden Read Blog

Stuart Hill Photo Blog

Jeremy Kitchen Read Blog

Danelle Kelliher Youtube channel

Aaron Schulz Read Blog

Ethan "Sochi" Gehl Read Blog | Instagram

Nils Knopf Read Blog (in German)

Nobu and Kei Kita Read Blog (also in Japanese)

Marie-Laure Bartholmé and Emilie Van den Broeck Read BlogFacebook

Tony and Belinda Hadfield Read Blog

Stephen Bretherton and Eunhwa Shim Read Blog (in Korean)

Shelley Butt Read Blog 

Michelle Campbell and Jack Faulkner Read Blog | Facebook

Jasper van der Meij and Bibi Veth Read Blog (in Dutch)

Bettina Grotschel Read Blog

Red Lunday de Waal Facebook | Instagram

Frances Boyson Read Blog

Caitlyn Peesker Read Blog | Instagram  

Andrew Douch Read Blog

Lyra Kane Read Blog

Jonathan Moake Read Blog

Quinn Workun Read Blog

Sandro Koster Read Blog

Rose and Dylan Gatto Read Blog 

Scott Hyde Read Blog

Warwick and Keitha Ross Read Blog

Blair Telford Read Blog

Renee Harper Instagram

Jasper Jarecki, Sam Bartusek, Will Shepard and Jack Durham Read Blog | Instagram

Anthony Page Read Blog

Nigel Christmas Read Blog

Erin Saver Read Blog | Facebook | Instagram

Tom Oakley and Luke Abendroth Read Blog

Matt Condon Read Blog

Zachary Jabin Read Blog

Julia Wilmanns and Hauke Gerdes Read Blog

Amiththan Sebarajah Read Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Brent and Claire Ruru Read Blog

Alex Mason Read Blog | Instagram

Peggy Zwätz Read Blog (in German)

Jess Krejcik and Brad Jipa Read Blog

Stefan Marwick Read Blog

Tane Harre Read Blog

Julia and Samuel Schano Read Blog (in German)

Andrea Hidalgo Read Blog

Gail and Neil Marshall Read Blog

Robin and Chloe Read Blog (in French)

Lisa B Read Blog

Kylie Lang Read Blog

Foote Family Read Blog

Adam Sumner Read Blog

Eric Zachanowich Read Blog

Mark Watson Website

Morgan and Georges Read Blog

Helena Olmas Read Blog

Rachel Kirkbride Read Blog

Sharlene Laskey and Neil McKinlay Read Blog

Emma Burr Facebook

Peter Cleghorn Read Blog 

Leslie Roberts Read Blog

Nancy Huber Read Blog

Jordan Reed Read Blog

Philippe Keiser and Nadine Freuler Read Blog (English) | Read Blog (German)

Mick Beckers Read Blog | Youtube documentary

Sophia Lewis Read Blog 

Marlies Dorrestein Read Blog

Reyne Palmer Website

Lena and Carsten Goesmann Read Blog (German)

Jay McArthur Read Blog | Website

"Camino Te Araroa" (Rene Duindam, Mike Duindam, Rick Harris) Read Blog

Rebecca Commissaris and Aaron Patzer Read Blog | Watercolour Gallery

Marc Putzi Read Blog (in German)

Bella Ryle and Mat Hibbert  Read Blog

Shanti Burton Read Blog

Harriet Southall and Alex Banks Read Blog

Daniel Liu "Cloudwalker" Read Blog

Therese Hullinger Read Blog

Jana Hosemann Read Blog

Nicki Letts and Mat Read Blog | Youtube

Richard Larson ("Skittles") Read Blog

Red Lunday de Waal Facebook

Clare - Blog 

Christoph Karallus Read Blog (in German) | Book (in German)

Adele Harris and Carl Hutchinson Read Blog

Paolo Richelli Read Blog (Italian)

Frauke and Thomas Read Blog (German)

Logan Wiwchar Read Blog

Tessa Louwerens Read Blog

Stefan Kosian Read Blog (German)

Tim Atkinson Read Blog

Emma Lagrelius Facebook

Margaret Hedderman Read Blog

Bobby Hedderman  Read Blog

Patricia and Justin La Vigne Read Blog

Anna McNuff Read Blog

Tattiana Delaroziere and Arnaud Read Blog

Richard and Achara Read Blog

Eef De Boeck and Per Jonas (PJ) Strand Read Blog

Loïc Jaffro Read Blog | Facebook 

Damian Day Read Blog 

Kirstine Collins Read Blog

Adam Chambers Read Blog

Nathan Denmark Read Blog

Kylie Lang Read Blog

Mina Holder Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jory Akuhata Read Blog

Jake Lehmann and Megan Townsend Read Blog

Cameron McAlpine Read Blog

Maria Tischleder and Andi Photos

Eleanor Hitchings Read Blog

Bethany Latham Read Blog

Rob Candy Read Blog

Jeanette Rybinski Facebook

Patrice and Justin La Vigne Read Blog

Andrew McFallon Read Blog

Marylene Coutret Read Blog

Dan Slattery Read Blog

Paul Corne Read Blog

Rory Hart Read Blog

Alan Moore and Lauren O'Toole Read Blog

Jazmin Ellzey and Cody Cardwell Read Blog

Quoc "Double Magic" Nguyen Read Blog

Kenzie O'Keefe and Cameron Navis Read Blog

Jörg Flügge Read Blog

Anthony Behrens and Fiona Burleigh (Whin and Whiona) Read Blog

Elly Govers and Sally Woods Read Diary

Emmanuelle (Manu) Bourmalo Read Blog

Wayno and Di Read Blog

Reino Koopmans and Piet Miedema Read Blog

Hannah and Selwyn Cleland Read Blog

Peter and Andrew Read Blog

Lui and Kristina Herz Read Blog

Glen and Sherren Read Blog

Mairi-Anne and Hannah Nel Read Blog

Pat Beath "Kiwiscout" Read Blog

Rowan Worthy and Jack Newton Read Blog

Pat Shannon and Sue Busfield Read Blog

Liz and Joe Delfino Read Blog

Zeina Saad and Mike Lissner Read Blog

Floris van Bergeijk Read Blog

Jan Handrejk Read Blog

Kaitlin (Jetpack) and Elaine (Brazil Nut) Read Blog

Thorsten Brocke Read Blog

Nick Lockwood Read Blog

Fred and David Rennie Read Blog

Julie Millar Read Blog

Richard Margesson Read Blog

Frederic Morel Read Blog

Adam Chambers Read Blog

Dave Giese and Alicia Read Blog

Amy O'Hoyt, Britt Maillet, Jeb Bates and Robby Robertson Read Blog

Anne Kuehne and Jan Read Blog | Facebook

Jeanette Rybinski Facebook

Gordon Somerville Read Blog

Richard Bowles Go to Website | Facebook | Watch Video

Linda Donaldson Go to Website

Jez Bragg Read Blog

Kyle Lintern Read Blog

Davorin Fahn Web Album

Franzi and Jona Read Blog

Tony Walton Read Blog

Emily and Phil Read Blog

Hannah Joynt Read Blog

Hattie and John Read Blog

Bruno Durand  Read Blog

Melanie Delpont Read Blog

Benjamin James Go to Website

Rajiv Moorthy Read Blog

Dean Crawford Go to Website

John Lockwood Go to Website

Sarn and Luigi Paroli Read Blog

Clara Mills-Romines and BJ Romines Read Blog

Sophie Were and Shaun McArthur Read Blog

John Hibbs Read Blog

Cisco and Roadrunner Read Blog

Te Araroa Tatoru Read Blog

Olivier Moly Go to Website

Lynne and Steve Brodie Read Blog

Freebird Read Blog

Weka and Kea Read Blog

Philippa Daley and Madeleine Linke Go to Website

Paul Garland Read Blog

Ashley Selman and Billy Blohm Go to Website

ToeK Go to Website

Dave and Clare Go to Website 

Rob and Debbie McColl Read Blog

Tengu Read Blog

Nicky and Cookie Go to Website

Judith Humbert Read Blog

Shalane Hopkins and Alex Ward Read Blog | Go to Website | Watch Video

Anders Ford, Damien and Landey Patton - TastyTrek Read Blog | Go to Website | Watch Video

Stuart Fleming Read Blog | Watch Video

Yeti Read Blog |


Trail Stories: Historical

 Geoff Chapple

Geoff Chapple — one of our great Kiwis — picked up the concept that had previously floated around without real traction.
What followed was an 18-year labour of love to turn Te Araroa into reality, picking up many willing contributors along the way.

To bring Te Araroa to life, Geoff walked New Zealand himself — covering the North Island in 1998, then the South Island in 2002.

Geoff wrote extensively about Te Araroa, first releasing a publication in 2002, Te Araroa: The New Zealand Trail (One Man Walks His Dream), then in 2011, Te Araroa: A Walking Guide to New Zealand’s Long Trail. Geoff also kept a blog of his walking expeditions and, in 2001, produced a study of international long walking trails as part of a Churchill Fellowship.

Geoff Chapple’s early walking journals

Geoff Chapple’s Churchill Fellowship report


George Spearing

The last New Zealand long walker we know of is George Spearing.

George Spearing took early retirement from the Fire Department — the Devonport Fire Station, actually — and decided to look at the North Island. He’d already walked the 4,000 km Pacific Crest Trail along the Sierra Nevada Range in America. His North Island route, mainly off-road, started at the northernmost point, Surville Cliffs, and ended at its southernmost, Cape Palliser. He took 73 days — from 24 November 1996 — 5 February 1997.

George firmly closed the door of his Whangaparaoa home to begin his long hike and dislodged the lucky horseshoe. He set out donged and bleeding, was almost washed off Te Horo Beach Headland but got to Cape Reinga, then walked 90-Mile Beach to Ahipara. He was bitten by wild dogs just beyond that town, but kept beach-walking down the western coast, kayaked across the Hokianga and Kaipara Harbours, and went on through Woodhill Forest to Muriwai and the Waitakere Ranges. He kayaked across the Manukau Harbour to Papakura, tramped the Hunua Range to Kopu, then Paeroa and entered the Karangahake Gorge. He followed bush tracks in the Kaimai-Mamaku Range, then exited the Carter Holt Harvey forestry roads that led through Taupo. He road-walked SH1 to the Kaimanawa Range, then entered the Ruahines. Lousy weather closed in, and strong winds lifted him off his feet, but he made it out, crossed farmland to Ashhurst, road-walked to Shannon, then traversed the Tararuas, linked with the Rimutaka Incline trail, road-walked to Lake Ferry, then round the coast to Cape Palliser.

A good walk! But different from Te Araroa — exclusively, as ours is not, a coastal, bush, and mountain range trail. “Did I enjoy my walk?” he says. “I must honestly say that I did not.” He found it “a slog, really”, with too few enjoyable moments. George — you gotta road-test Te Araroa sometime!

Chris Gulley and the Te Araroa Expedition 1995

In 1995, Chris Gulley and two friends, Ron Enzler and Wendy van den Berg undertook the Te Araroa Expedition from Cape Reinga to Bluff to “promote the potential of an end-to-end trail of Aotearoa / New Zealand”. Originally planned as the Aotearoa Adventure Trail, the newly formed Te Araroa Trust asked the trio to join forces with them.

Chris had, in 1992, walked the entire Appalachian Trail in the USA and came back home with the same vision for New Zealand. The journey was undertaken on foot, by mountain bike and by sea kayak — the thinking being that these alternative forms of self-propelled transport would add some ‘spice’ to the trail and could be offered as alternatives to walking (and, in turn, employ local operators).

The trio started in February 1995 and reached Bluff in May 1995, just after the first snows of the winter. They covered roughly 3,000 km — with a third of each on foot, bike and kayak.

Rex Hendry

In 1983/84, Rex Hendry walked from the top to bottom of New Zealand through the bush – a little under 3000 km in 168 days. The route explored the possibility of a North-South Walkway through the country and stuck closely to the mountainous geological fault line that runs the country’s length. A smelly old tramper from way back, Rex Hendry returned to New Zealand in the early 1980s after studying and working in Outdoor Education in UK and Europe. This journey provides a real link between theory and practice!!

He has written an account of the journey. It is a ‘first draft’ written a few months after the trip in 1983/84. The temptation to re-write it and ‘tart it up’ with exciting expletives and dripping metaphors has been resisted. The written word follows this intrepid trek and relays the actual characteristics of the journey – rough, raw, tenacious, and at times tedious. It is an authentic account interpreted from the pages of his logbook, with a foreword by Graeme Dingle MBE ONZM. 

A. H. Reed

There may have been other hikes — but the first one everyone knew about was when AH Reed, then aged 85, walked the length of New Zealand between 22 September 1960 and 12 April 1961. The old man — founder of AH and AW Reed Publishing — walked on-road the whole way.

That’s not Te Araroa’s aim.

But, in his book From North Cape to Bluff (AH and AW Reed, 1961), AH explains the journey “Yes, I knew I wanted to travel leisurely on foot through the whole length of our favoured land...”  AH that’s it — you had Te Araroa spirit! The octogenarian did the North Island half in 86 days. In the 1960s, the nation enjoyed surfing a single emotion — the Beatles, right? and it got right behind AH.

The 85-year-old’s journey entered New Zealand’s heart. People clapped him through, brought him cups of tea, waved and tooted from cars, and screeched to a halt by the entire busload. And along the route, class after class of school-children were gathered for compulsory but unforgettable immersion in the eerie spell cast by this old, gaunt giant of early hiking.

Interesting that AH chose, for his “leisurely” walk, a route that mostly followed roads but which was, in its geography, similar to Te Araroa’s off-road North Island trail. He went to North Cape, Cape Reinga, Kaitaia, Herekino, Kerikeri, Whangarei, Warkworth, Puhoi, Albany, Auckland, Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Te Kuiti, Taumarunui, National Park, Raetihi, Pipiriki, Jerusalem, Wanganui, Marton, Bulls, Palmerston North, Masterton, Wellington.


Esther James – the first person to walk NZ

The first person recorded walking the length of New Zealand was the indomitable Esther James, architect, inventor and fashion model. During 1931 and 1932, James walked 2500km from Spirits Bay to Bluff through New Zealand towns and communities. She worked for the New Zealand Manufacturers’ Federation promoting buying New Zealand-made goods during the depression. During the walk, she wore NZ-made clothes to focus the nation’s attention on the value of buying NZ-made.

Being the first person to walk the length of New Zealand was just one of James’ adventures.  She also completed other long walks and spent time in Australia diving for coral, crocodile hunting and opal mining. She wrote a bestselling book, stood for parliament, designed and built houses and ran several businesses.

Esther James — Te Ara biography

Long-distance walker Esther James reaches Bluff 18 June 1932 – NZ History

Photo: Esther James. Ref: PAColl-5744-10. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22777165


Page last updated: Dec 2, 2022, 11:57 AM