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.
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