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New Zeland from South to North afoot - IV. part - at the finish!

I am sitting on the grass with a beautiful view of the sea and I am trying to reminisce about what has happened to me lately. As you probably know, this is the fourth part of my wandering story of New Zealand which I decided to walk through on foot. It is also a talk about how I finally did it.

One thing at a time! The last article was about completing the discovery of the South Island and now lets go together to discover the North Island.

When I look back, I still remember clearly the turbulent sky and there was about to start a big” tumult” over Cook Strait. A ferry is heading here to take me to the North Island. The journey is developing unexpectedly, the storm is much stronger than expected, and the ship’s movement has caused the glasses to fall down off the bar and some passengers are vomiting.

After three hours I am finally in Wellington, but slightly shocked! I have to avoid people, hardly anyone saying hi and everything seeming slightly curious. This is the difference compared to the almost deserted South Island.

Wellington is a beautiful seaside town. Because several people have recommended me to spend some time here, I decided to book a room for three nights and enjoy a bit of civilization. As a result of it I can visit the Weta Cave, for example, which is one of the most famous film studios, and the weapons of the Lord of the Rings movie which were created here and also the Chappie robot. I also had the opportunity to visit the Te Papa museum, one of the best-rated museums in the world and to a music festival organized on the famous Cuba Street.

A little bit of culture certainly didn’t harm anyone, but I have to continue my journey through New Zealand. It is time to get going and find out what the North Island offers.

I soon found out, the north has good places but they are relatively too far apart. As soon as I leave Wellington, I walk for a few days just on the roads. You all probably think, “it has to be pretty boring” and this is a little bit true. Happily, I have the possibility to play my ukulele and test the durability of the nylon strings. I definitely recommended it because against melancholy it works perfectly. When you will travel anywhere, take with you a mandolin, a flute or a double-bass and you won’t be bored.

After a week spent on the roads, farms and one six- kilometer long beach I finally reach the Tararuas Range National Park. The crossing of the mountains takes 8 days and I finally get to know a little of the Nordic countryside. Conifers, ferns and a mainly a moist environment – muddy parts of the trek are not an exception. I am overcoming the highest point Mt. Mitre (1,571 m. above sea level) and I am looking around to see the tabular south of North Island. Then I gradually descend down into Palmerston North.

With regard to organisational matters, the most complicated part of the North Island is river Whanganui. The start of the trek is normally from the north to the south and you float down the river by canoe, (I am going to trek other way around). I hitch-hiked into the city Taumaranui, I rented a canoe and together with my three friends from South Island, we set forth for five days of Whanganui river floating, because I did not want to miss this experience.

I am really glad that I didn’t exclude this adventure. The first two days were splendid, I saw absolutely amazing nature in the middle of the National Park, where we could not get without a boat. Camping in marvelous weather in places untouched by tourists.

Then came the weather changes and I remembered that we been warned by a guy at the “security briefing” that there is about a 1% chance that the river will rise due to heavy rains and it will be dangerous to continue,  if this doesn’t happen of course you don’t have to worry about it.“

This situation however, occurred during our expedition.

 Intensive rain began in the evening of the third day and during the night the river rose so much that it flooded the lower part of the camp and in the morning we just watched the canoe float down the river. I thank the scouts for the great boating lessons!

The river seemed to be about three times faster and a lot of branches floated on it, and we were not sure if we should dare to float on it again. Finally we decided that we have no other option. We do not have phone reception or a walkie-talkie radio but at least we will be faster to the next camp. We set off and were moving fast but still relatively safe, except for the occasional ripping off of a piece of the side bank due to the waterlogged subsoil. We were concerned that a tree could come down because of the drenched soil, but everything turned out well. Finally, things went better than we expected.

As a consequence of the ongoing rain and drenched surroundings, I had the opportunity to see the most picturesque countryside scenery in my life. On both sides there are huge rocks and there are literally dozens of magnificent waterfalls splashing from them and we are riding through. We all have in our eyes the enthusiasm of little children when they see the most beautiful gifts under a Christmas tree.

I am now preparing myself for the most famous New Zealand trek- Tongariro Alpine Crossing, after I have conquered the river. The Tongariro National Park is the oldest National Park of New Zealand and the trek between the peaks Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapeho is more or less world-famous. I am just a little embarrassed because I have suddenly appeared in the middle of a tourist attraction.

However, I used my popularity and I asked in the Info Centre “when is the ideal time for great views and at the same time the smallest  number of visitors,”  I am notified that the trek is long, I am not allowed to camp there and I have to use the hut to rest, which cost 36 dollars per night. I do not respond: -  “Ok ,I will start my trek from the village and the 2 hours of trekking to the abovementioned hut, I will complete in the morning” The lady is very untrustworthy and she tells me once more that it will take me 11 hours to complete  the trek. I will have to remember that!  I do not listen to her anymore and I will be leaving early in the morning. I have my theory, if I arrive at the hut before the tourists wake up, or earlier then the first bus arrives at the parking area, I have the chance to be on the top with a minimum of people.

The theory is one thing, but it seems at the Tongariro there is someone all the time!. The Trek is simple and is adapted for a mass of people – a wide, reinforced path, in the case of elevation gain there are steps and railing, of course. I am proceeding fast and in the next few hours I am reaching the highest point 1,886m. above sea level, and it is the true that the views are breathtaking. I find myself in volcanic active terrain without vegetation. The last small eruption was in 2012, even so the ash rose to 4 000m within 5 minutes.

There are three Emerald Lakes which are in fact three craters, water-filled after the volcano eruption.

There were plenty of tourists, but my impression was altogether positive. It is a really nice and interesting trek. I would not say it is the most beautiful in New Zealand, as it is advertised everywhere, but it is still another place to admire the gorgeous magical nature. I strongly recommend it to anyone who will be travelling to the north, because it is a nice experience.

After another 11 days of wandering across a lot of boring roads, but also picturesque forests and small hills, I am coming to Auckland and as soon as I walked in the suburbs of the city, I thought I am not in New Zealand anymore. It felt like I was in a different part of the world and I cannot really say, in good conscious, that I liked it there. So quickly back to the wild and beautiful nature.  It took me 2 days to get across the 1,5 million population city and finally board a ship that takes me to Devonport.  Now I can walk along the beaches of the East Coast.

 In the North of Auckland I discover the excitement of gorgeous nature again after some time. After seeing the Southern Island I became really sad and I thought I had seen the most beautiful nature already, and I wouldn’t see anything better. Luckily I was wrong because Northland showed me its beauty!

I get nearer to the north of New Zealand along the endless beaches faster and faster, and I watch the incredible sunrises above the ocean. Wonderful moments!

A loud noise awoke me one night camping in the wild nature and it sounded like a Kiwi bird. I briskly got up and in the red light of my head lamp went to look into the forest. It took me about a half an hour to find an animal that almost no local native had seen in the wild nature. I can confirm- “Kiwi bird” does exist! It is not just a tourist attraction! :-)

The wandering along the north of North Island is passing incredibly fast. I have 25 days left of my journey after my visit to Auckland. Day by day I am still getting closer to my destination, which is the northern tip of New Zealand - Cape Reinga. Once I cross the famous beaches on the east coast and kauri forests Raetea in the inland, I am reaching the “home straight” - „Ninety Mile Beach“. The last part of the journey I start in the small town of Ahipara which has about a thousand inhabitants and probably the most expensive store in New Zealand.

In the morning, I provide myself with a sufficient amount of water for cooking and drinking because I will have the sea on my left side and sand dunes on my right side for the next 3 days and drinking water will be unavailable!

When I finally start walking along the beach, I began putting my thoughts together. What have I experienced, since the beginning of my adventure journey?

It was January 9, 2018, when I began my trip in Bluff, the southern tip of New Zealand. At that moment, I had no idea whatsoever what I was doing! I didn’t know, what it meant to cross more than 3000 km, and what’s more, with 100 km elevation gain.. These were simply numbers for me! Well, I’m glad to know it now! It’s pretty cool :-)

After 131 days on my way, I find myself on a red gravel road, which indicates, I’m a few hundred yards before Cape Reinga. My whole body is shaking, as I am coming closer and see the lighthouse guiding the boats. I cannot control myself and with complete joy in every part of my body, I am walking thorough the imaginary finishing line.

I did it! I’m here!

I sit on the grass with a beautiful view of the sea and I realize that, it is not just me, who has completed this journey. I would never have done this alone! First of all I couldn’t do it with out the support of my family and my friends who kept contact with me all the time. The companies Hannah and Rock Point provided me with the clothing and equipment necessary for the journey – and all incredibly exceeded my expectations. Everything I carried on my back did “a huge job”! Everything has been laying about in the mud and wading in the seas and rivers. I perspired through all of my clothing but every piece of equipment provided worked perfectly!

  Last but not least, it is all of you, who are reading this article. You have been through the way, too, and due to your comments, messages and likes I had enough motivation to complete the journey.

Thanks so much to all of you and I hope that you enjoyed my articles at least a little bit as much as I enjoyed my journey!

Martin Mařík alias Mářa on the way

Invitation to presentation 

If anyone is interested in the presentation about my journey, I cordially invite you on June 8, 2018 from 7:30 pm to the beautiful village of Sedlo by Jindřichův Hradec. Here we will hold the first presentation and then we will play guitars, we will have a beer and chat. In case of interest, it will not be a problem to pitch a tent and stay over night. The area provides beautiful scenery, ideal for a Saturday stroll after a long Friday night...

The second presentation will be held on June 28, 2018 in Jindřichův Hradec from 7:30 pm in Bar 69.

For more detailed information and the booking of seats for the events- HERE: