Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


Guessing Brad's Hut Location Tonight...

How many hours is Brad hiking a day; how accurate are the Te Araroa Trail time and mile estimates; is it raining; are the rivers swollen? So many questions. So many ways the miles covered could change. But, estimating approcimately 6.5 hours of tramping per day since he left Havelock, I'm guessing he will be staying at the Rintoul Hut tonight, on the Richmond Alpine Track.

Rintoul Hut


Love From Home!

Love is like cough you can't hold it back.
~African proverb

To Brad!

I think tramping 1,864 miles on the Te Araroa Trail qualifies for finding out how far one can go.


Following Brad Hut by Hut.

Today Brad began the Pelorus River Track, a track rich in huts. Perhaps this section of the Te Araroa Trail could be called huting rather than tramping. My puzzle: how far will Brad get, or which hut will he spend the night in?

The Captain Creek Hut, approximately 8.5 km (4 hours):

The Middy Hut, another 5 km (2 hours):

The Roebuck Hut, another 7.5 km (4 hours):

Or, the Browning Hut, another 9 km (4.5 hours):

I'm betting on the Roebuck Hut, unless it started raining again and crossings became a problem. He could also get really ambitious and stop at the Browning Hut. Or, he could pitch his tent and not stay in any of the huts. So, once again, he's hiked one day and I have no idea where he is. It's fun to see the hut options though.

An interesting tidbit, New Zealand's Department of Conservation manages over 950 huts of all shapes and sizes, from one end of New Zealand to the other.

Rain, rain go away, come again another day...

Today, finally, Brad departs from Havelock. Not on schedule at all because of rain, rain and more rain. The Pelorus River, along with all its tributaries, has been high making crossings dangerous, if not impossible, all along the trail.

Pelorus River from Pelorus River Bridge, looking gentle, calm and non threatening

Hanging out at the hostel for another day or two made more sense than tackling the trail in non-stop rain and then getting stuck in a soggy tent waiting for crossing opportunities. Flooding in the Marlborough District is a serious enough issue that there's a website called: Flood Watch to provide up-to-date flooding information. By last evening when I last chatted with Brad, the rain had stopped and the river was returning to normal flow. He was leaving in the morning (that's about now!).

Sometimes, keeping one's feet dry is a river-crossing option.
Photo by David Noble

In the wait for the rain to stop yesterday, Brad did four hours of welding and other work for the owners of the hostel where he was staying; finished a book; blogged (See days 41-70 for more updated Te Araroa Trail tramping adventures); and solved a cash problem he's been having. His visa card will only work at the larger banks so he needed to send his card into the city with the hostel owners so they could get food-purchasing-cash for him.

So he's now with food, with cash, with pack packed, with rain stopped and with a will to get back on the trail. He's off into the wilderness so we won't hear from him for a spell. I'm hoping the friends he'd wanted to catch were stopped by the rain too so the distance between them didn't increase.

I'm now beginning a long tramp too -- no towns, no phone, no e-mail, no chat, no postcards, no blog updates, no Brad, for a long time...


I can hear you
making small holes
in the silence

If I were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
and shut

And I
should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind

the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground

the steady
drum-roll sound
you make
when the wind drops

But if I
should not hear
smell or feel or see

you would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me


Havelock and heading for wilderness

Just before Welllington, Brad reported he was "tired", as you can see from the photo below. So, he took several days for rest and resupply in Wellington, and then a couple more days of rest in Picton. Slowing down has allowed him to rest, let his knee heal, visit with friends, shop and tend to e-mail and blogging. But now, with his injured knee rested and healed, he's about ready to put his head down and cover some miles.

Brad is tired

Brad's update this morning (February 21) is that he's in Havelock, a coastal town on Pelorus Sound on the South Island. While there he is purchasing and packing food for the next nine days. Tomorrow (or even later today if it stops raining), he will hitch out of Havelock before beginning a several day tramp following the Pelorus River, along the Pelorus River Track. Upon leaving the river he will head into the mountains. First town off that track will be St. Arnald, gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park. At St. Arnaud he will resupply for six more days of tramping which will last him to his food drop. He supplied this food drop by mail from Wellington. This drop will last him for another six days. It looks like he could be out of touch for 20+ days. Brad will be tramping in some remote and difficult terrain. With luck he will catch Ludo and Flore who are now about four days ahead of him.

Track Marker

This orange sign is the NZ Department of Conservation track marker for the Te Araroa Trail. On Brad's tramp, he's needed to always be on the lookout for this sign, so I had to laugh when...

he pointed out on his blog that even the ferry had the orange marker.

Cook Strait Ferry



Picton, Marlborough Sounds, NZ

Correction, Correction! Brad is, just this morning, leaving Picton. Arrived too late (9:00 p.m.) by ferry to make the 25 mile hike to the trail head and then the next morning, he decided on a little R&R with his traveling friend. So, now, this morning (Feb. 15 here on Whidbey Island; Feb. 16 in Picton) he's headed out and trying to go fast to catch up with other friends.


Pulling Brad's Heart Strings

Happy Valentine's Day Dear Brad, far, far away in New Zealand!
Love from
Sir Benton Cowboy.

Benton, The Cutest Aussie Ever

The First Day's Tramp on South Island

Queen Charlotte Sound

The day for Brad will begin at Ship's Cove, and will have him wandering through a complex "Lord of the Rings" landscape. Beginning on Queen Charlotte Sound he will pass Resolution Bay, head north again to Furneaux, south to Big Bay and then past Bay of Many Coves (on the east side of the trail). Although the Te Araroa Trail is headed south, it is also going west from Kenepuru Head (on the west side of the trail), along Kenepuru Sound.

My examination of the South Island's northern section on Google Earth, shows complex land and water formations, reminding me of the Puget Sound's intricate coves, bays, and islands where one can explore for years always finding something new and interesting and beautiful and wild. The urge to plan a kayak trip to this area of New Zealand is intense.


From Wellington to Picton

Once arriving on the South Island, Brad will be traveling in the Marlborough region, with the Te Araroa Trail beginning on the north tip at Ship's Cove. The Cook Strait Ferry departed from Wellington and will arrive in Picton, and then he must find his way from Picton to Ship's Cove, which will mean backtracking north about 25 miles. The first town on the trail he will come to, once he's headed south on the trail, will probably be Linkwater, with Havelock being five miles south of Linkwater. Ship's Cove to Havelock is about 30 miles as the crow flies, probably closer to 50+ by trail.

Cook Strait on Valentine's Day!

Today, Brad departs for the South Island. And, today in NZ, it is Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day, Dear Brad...

And, happy Cook Strait crossing...

Message from Brad this morning:
busy day today. packing up stuff, using rest of food, mailing food drop, picking up new pack, packing again into new pack, packing old pack into box with pole, socks to be returned, some papers and other misc. stuff im sending home then finding the ferry, getting to the south island and finding getting to the start of the next track.

He's on his way with the North Island completed and the South Island ahead of him. Happy tramping Brad and Happy Valentine's day too.


The End of the North Island

Celebration Time! The North Island has been completed and it's onto the South Island

Cook Strait, world renown for dangerous and unpredictable waters

You know, it's somewhat entertaining to find out, via another hiker's blog, that Brad was delighted to have been picked up, as a hitchhiker, by a stripper, and delivered to Welllington. I'm thinking, is this something a mother should know? Then, I'm thinking, oh well, and oh yes.

Wellington it is for the weekend. The last city before crossing Cook Strait between the North Island and the South Island. There is much to do. Preparing for the tramping adventure on the South Island is more complex than it was on the North Island. Shopping, preparing for food drops, buying new shoes (again!), having his tent repaired, replacing his pack and poles, and so on...

The South Island has more land mass with 24% less population. The Challenges will be greater in many ways, including resupply, tramping difficulty and weather as the days are getting shorter and the weather colder. New Zealand hasn't had much of a normal summer this year, experiencing lots of rain and cold, but heading south will increase the weather challenges as the summer season changes to fall.


Many months; many miles

Brad, Tararua Range

"Frankly, I fail to see how going for a six-month, thousand-mile walk through deserts and mountains can be judged less real than spending six months working eight hours a day, five days a week, in order to earn enough money to be able to come back to a comfortable home in the evening and sit in front of a TV screen and watch the two-dimensional image of some guy talking about a book he has written on a six-month, thousand-mile walk through deserts and mountains."

Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker III



Ludo, Flore and Brad just finished tramping the Tararua Range. A range which left them with many feelings and experiences -- beauty; wet clothes & feet; steep climbing; scree fields; jungle paths: fog, rain, cold & sun; narrow swinging bridges; tiny huts; companionship, laughter, smiles & playfulness; delight; photo opportunities; fatigue; and painful body parts -- to be shared and remembered for years to come.
Flore, Ludo & Brad

Tararua Range

Ludo & Flore on Swinging Bridge

Brad, Ludo & Flore, with other tramping friends, in hut

Ludo & Flore Outside Tararua Tramping Hut

But, the range has been put behind them, and Brad, along with Ludo and Flore, are once again tramping together, but now on the beach. In a Skype conversation with Brad last night, Brad expressed great delight at being on flat ground again. Yesterday they all took a rest day in Paraparaumu but headed out again this morning to tramp the Kapiti Coast

Barnacles Seaside Inn - - 2-night-home

The Trek is now from Paraparaumu to Wellington

The Beautiful Kapiti Coast

Paraparaumu and the Kapiti Coast

From Paraparaumu the Te Araroa Trail follows the west coast, along the Tasman Sea, south to Wellington, but dives inland from Porirua Harbour. Porirua Harbour is off Mana Island. I will next talk with Brad in Welllington, Capital of Cool.


Te Araroa Freestyle

After Brad's posting wherein he states he's now doing the Te Araroa Freestyle, I decided to Google Te Araroa Freestyle and I came up with:
For today, the first four out of six Goggle entries are owned by Brad's Te Araroa adventure. Freestyle sports are defined as adrenaline sports. That's not what Brad had in mind when he used "Freestyle", but instead was referring to flexibility, straying from the intended path, or creatively discovering a modified route. Nevertheless, I can't be absolutely sure because Brad does enjoy an adrenaline rush. So I can only hope Brad's idea of Te Araroa Freestyle didn't mean this:

Photo by Klettern

Or this:

Or this:

"With the first step, the number of shapes the walk might take is infinite, but then the walk begins to define itself as it goes along, though freedom remains total with each step: any tempting side road can be turned into an impulse, or any wild patch of woods can be explored. The pattern of the walk is to come true, is to be recognized, discovered."

- A.R. Ammons,
A Poem is a Walk


Tararua Range

I've been getting ahead of myself. Brad isn't on the Kapiti Coast yet, in fact he's on a six day tramp in the Tararua Range. It's reputed to be the most demanding part of the Te Araroa Trail on the North Island with 1000m ascents and descents. Also weather conditions can be extreme. With his sore knee, this will be a challenging section of the trail. Fortunately, he's not alone but with Ludo and Flore. Here is the Te Araroa Trail description.

Red Deer on Scree

I can't image tramping much of this kind of terrain with a bad knee and can only hope the trail doesn't have long stretches of scree.

Wind Farm, photo courtesy of Manawatu Standard

From what I'm reading the Tararua Range and wind are synonymous. As a result, wind farms are being built but are unfortunately receiving noise complaints from neighbors. Finding energy solutions continues to challenge us all.

Tararua Range, photo courtesy of Multi Cultural Medley

Tararua Range, Photo by Richard Young

Tararua Range, Courtesy of the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like falling leaves."

John Muir