New Zealand

 
View from Mt. Hood, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

View from Mt. Hood, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Day 2: Part Two: The View I Came For

The thought that kept coming back to me as I hiked up the stairs of Mt. Hood was “How on Earth did they make this path?”. The struggle of placing the sleepers in their respective locations must have been arduous, the clearing of the trees and bushes taxing, and the never-ending ascent would leave even the most hardened builder crestfallen. The fact that the path was constructed using the labour of criminals was somewhat apt but still a touch bitter. This was not made through a labour of love but by way of punishment. Nevertheless, I reached the summit and was met with a view that was, well, sometimes a task requires you to be completely out of breath to then have the pleasure of witnessing something that then takes your breath away.

 
Mt Hood, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Mt Hood, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Day 2: Part One: The River Bed and Steep @$$ Hill

I broke from the hut early the next day. The baby boomers who shared the hut with me were slowly rising and creaking and commenting on there investment properties. Following the path on the Aotea is tough, as was proven the first day. The second day furthered this notion by having the path descent into a barren river bed, rocks upon rocks and stones upon stones. The path now was marked merely by a fluorescent pink stake in the ground. Once this path lead back to a more clear trail I was met with what can only be described as a moral-killing hill, followed…by another hill even more obnoxiously steep hill. Gassed and bagged I reached the top and was met with a more pleasant jaunt towards the hut, I came across my first fellow trekker going the other way, we shook hands, made small talk and exchanged vague time frame reckonings, I’m told “Yah mate bout 15 mins away”. 1 hour later I reach the second hut, with a spectacular view of Mt Hood, my next task for the afternoon.

 
Near the Kairaara Hut, Aotea Track, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Near the Kairaara Hut, Aotea Track, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Day 1: Part Three: Pain to Pleasure

Drudging is an accurate word, I drudged through the varying landscape that could only be described as a geologist rocky wet dream. Thinking that this path had no end and wondering why I had chosen this task left me despondent. But as Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” states, “If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!”. What met me was a sight so beautiful I could damn near cry at in its vicinity, “Kairaara Hut and Forest Road – 1.4km/30 mins”…yes. Shortly thereafter I was dunking my head in the beautiful natural spring next to the hut, pure ecstasy. My evening of Netflix downloads, canned food and water. The trip had more than I thought to come.

 
The Trail, Aotea Track, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

The Trail, Aotea Track, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Day 1: Part Two: Entry into the Unknown

Finding the entrance to the Aotea Track is simple enough. Follow the road out of town take right here, a left there and eventually you’re met with an inconspicuous ingress. With a deep breath and stomach full of butterflies, I entered the trail.

My initial thoughts were arrogantly simple, thinking to myself “This is it?”. Little did I know of the challenge ahead of me. The path became more rugged and less obvious. For a brief and panic inducing moment, I thought I lost the path. Remaining steadfast and keeping a logical frame of mind I followed the route I was on and thankfully, found my way.

Up and down the trail went, it was obnoxiously never ending and this was only my first day. Instead of having despair and being downtrodden I appreciated the little pleasures. The views, solitude and adventure that I was on, that’s what kept me going.

 
Stewart Road, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Stewart Road, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Day 1: Part One: Ecstasy and Anxiety

With adventure in my mind and butterflies in my stomach my trip to Great Barrier Island was one of some trepidation. After all, no one I had spoken to had trekked the fabled Aotea Track and for the most part no one I met or knew had visited the sparsely populated island. As the plane landed on the grass tarmac after a smooth and picturesque 30-minute flight from Auckland I began to truly feel nerves and bounds of excitement.

After the plane had taxied to the terminal (Literal tin shack) my bag was handed to me by the baggage handler, who as a matter of fact was also the pilot. I filled what would be my 3-day supply of water in the airport’s toilet. Then, made sure all of my provisions were in order, consulted my pre-planned directions and simply started walking, for the first time in my life, I was truly walking into the unknown.