GTGO Te Araroa Stage Four | Timber Trail | Back Country Cuisine

GTGO Te Araroa Stage Four | Timber Trail

01 March 2023

Te Araroa




Robert Bruce - Got To Get Out


The purpose of this series is to encourage every day Kiwis to walk sections of Te Araroa, to improve their health and wellness and prove it’s not just for fit foreigners.

The group left Auckland early on a Friday morning (6am), in order to complete this walk across three days. Most people would mountain bike the Timber Trail in two days or walk it across four, but our group wished to reduce their time off work, so we pushed a bit further than normal each day - walking around 28km per day from Pureora to reach the end, in Ōngarue, just three days later.

This section of Te Araroa follows the old railway tram trail, carved out of the bush in the early part of the 1900s to extract tonnes of native logs from the area right up until the 1960s when government intervention saved the remaining forest for more felling. The remaining native forest mostly at the Pureora end is stunning, untouched; trees such as rimu, mataī, tōtara and miro tower high above, home to numerous endangered birds including kākā and kōkako. Extensive trapping and hunting in the area appears to be keeping pest and wild animals under control, giving the precious fauna space and time to bounce back.

The Timber Trail track itself is not technically difficult, just long. The hard-packed clay and gravel is fairly tough underfoot when walking long days, so hikers should consider if trail-runner shoes or boots are a better option for this repetitive trudging. Our group experienced some foot pain, blisters, and some of them pulled out at the Piropiro campsite at roughly the half way point, to give their bodies a chance to recover after such grueling long days.

There are numerous historical sites along this section of Te Araroa with signposts that are worth stopping to read. Walkers especially, compared to cyclists, have time to stop and read the information and learn more about this fascinating area. Having ridden the Timber Trail recently myself, I can confirm you are less likely to stop as often to read information or take in the beauty of the place, so I think walking gives you a fuller experience.

People thinking about hiking sections of Te Araroa, should download the trail notes and prepare by sourcing the right clothing for the conditions, equipment such as walking poles and footwear, lightweight and waterproof tents, and lightweight high energy nutrition to keep energy up during long days on foot with backpack.


  1. Timber Trail


  • You could try mountain biking instead of walking. It is two relatively easy days (40km) on a bike, as opposed to three or four hard days walking. Just note that as a rider, you are less likely to take in all the fascinating information in the area, while looking over your handlbars at the ground ahead.
  • Pack for any weather eventuality, as there is significant rainfall in the area, and conditions are considered ‘alpine’ in some parts due to high altitudes and exposure to elements. Excellent wet weather gear and layers are important.
  • Pack light. Can you share equipment with your walking-mates? Do you need to bring it all? Shaving kilograms out of your pack makes walking a lot easier. Heavy canvas backpacks, large tents, and too much kit can really weigh you down on the trail.
  • Harden your feet ahead of this (or any) long walk by going barefoot in the weeks prior, doing lots of practice walking, taping your toes or using hikers’ wool, and wearing-in new footwear long ahead of time.
  • Some hikers prefer grippy sneakers / trail runners to boots that can feel heavy over long distances. Boots vs shoes is a matter of personal preference and hotly disputed in Te Araroa circles, but either way, ensure you have walked long distances and carried a heavy pack during training to avoid surprises.
  • Take a PLB (personal locator beacon) because there is minimal or no phone service to call for help.
  • Trekking poles can be useful on long sections of Te Araroa, to take strain off back and provide balance.
  • If you prefer a comfortable stay with beds, there are two different accommodation options at the half way point of Piropiro.


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