Two Weeks Until We Fly

Today, as I write this, it’s Saturday 22nd September – the day before my 27th birthday, and exactly two weeks before we fly out to Auckland.

The reality of how soon we embark, and what we’re about to embark upon has hit me in waves over the last few weeks. First, about two and a half weeks ago when in my mind I started referring to our leaving date as “soon” rather than not soon, then again over the last week or so when you realise – two weeks left really means less than 2 weeks to actually get stuff done.

Over the last month or so I’ve bought a few last minute things (large memory card, light weight drone) and repaired a few important things (main SONY A7R II camera), and have booked a few important things (hotels/hostels) but it still feels like the list of “things to do” is bigger than the list of “things done”.

Another spanner that has appeared in the works, is the fact that two Northland forests – Herikino Forest and Puketi Forest will be closed to fight Kauri Dieback Disease. We entirely support DOC in their efforts to control this disease and save the magnificent trees that it threatens, however it means two of the most significant and iconic forests in the first week of the trail will be skipped. This nearly makes it feel like the walk we’ll be doing is not the authentic Te Araroa that others before us have walked.

An alternative route has been published, which involves road walking/hitching around Herekino and a detour above the Puketi forest section (but still off-road), so we now have a tough decision to make. We essentially have 3 options; we can walk the track with the new alternate route, we could walk the first section (90 Mile Beach) and then skip the forests entirely by catching a bus to Kerikeri, or we could skip the entire northern section and start in Kerikeri. Either way, I think we’ll come back to do the Northland Forests in 2019, once they’ve opened up once more.

Even though we’ve already done a few days on 90 Mile Beach, I’m inclined to simply walk the track as currently advertised with the alternate route and then coming back to do the Northland Forests in their entirety next year.

I think this would give us a true sense of accomplishment – having set off from Cape Reinga and finished at Bluff in one continuous pathway, even if it isn’t the original Te Araroa. Each year there are changes in the route, as sections open or close for maintenance and whatnot. It just happens that this year there is a change in the first few sections, which has formulated as an integral part of Te Araroa in my mind, because they are some of the first sections you read about.

So for the next two weeks, we will be frantically organising as best we can. We have a week left of work, and we’ve each taken the final week off to give us more time to be thoroughly prepared without feeling rushed. I’m selling a few last-minute items on eBay, to plump up the travel funds, and we still have a few things to purchase. Not least of all would be travel insurance, our bus tickets from Auckland to Kaitaia, and getting Erin’s phone fixed.

Insurance in particular is proving to be a headache. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find an insurance option that covers my moderate amount of camera gear – many seem to top out at $3000 or $4000 per item, which would be fine if they didn’t count a camera and it’s lenses as one item. As soon as you get a full frame mirrorless camera plus 2 lenses, you’ve easily gone over the $4000 limit. My next option is to enquire about specific photographer’s insurance, and then get separate travel insurance, which might even work out to be cheaper as well.

The good news is, we’ve given ourselves nearly two whole months longer than the last time, so anything that’s not quite right we should have time to adjust.