Dec 15, 2014
The Tararuas are a mountain range located in the southern half of the North Island and span just east of the Tasman Sea and north of Wellington. This is where I begin my section “tramp” of New Zealand’s long path: the Te Araroa. This is where I am introduced to The Bush.
Because of the Tararua’s proximity to the sea and height (several thousand feet above sea level) weather forecasts are typically unfavorable for the prospective tramper. Misty fog envelopes all empty spaces and orifices to test your vertigo. Strong sea winds try and push you off the path; a tiny thread strewn across a ridge line with sheer drop offs. You will come to know the ground well because that’s all you’ll see.
Literally you will kiss the ground when some feature of The Bush tries to take you out. It might be a tree root among the labyrinth of tree roots intersecting the path, or a dangling tree vine called a Liana you must push aside lest you become entwined, or a deep sucking mud puddle that will eat your beautiful new trail runners.
The Bush is alive. It is a living breathing green giant. It is a terrarium grown out of control. It is a salty wet vagina. It is a fun house of nightmares and fern gully fantasies.
My advice to the prospective Bush tramper is to try and adapt. Use the tree roots to spring forward, make like a monkey and use lianas and tree trunks to stabilize while tramping down and to pull up on when tramping up, and tie your shoes tighter.