Hitchhiking New Zealand: Day 15,16,17: Otaki Forks & Southern Crossing, BackStory of The Te Aurora Trail

Sun On The Face Feels So Good
Renata Ridge Line
North Island, New Zealand

Wow! The country of New Zealand continues to astound me with the amount of EPIC hikes it has! The one I’ve enjoyed most recently, happened to be around Otaki, a little coastal town about 2 hours north of the capital city of Wellington. It was a quick and easy hitchhiking day to arrive in Otaki, a town filled with small town vibes in every way.

Otaki, New Zealand

But bear with me here please because I’d like to share a little backstory with all you fabulously curious readers out there, if that’s okay with you. When I first arrived in New Zealand about 14 months ago, I found out about “tramping” (Kiwi term for “hiking”). I heard about a trail called the Te Aurora Trail. It is the single greatest adventure in New Zealand. This trail runs from the very northern tip of New Zealand to the very southern tip and is about 1,900mi/3000km in distance. It takes anywhere from 3-5 months, tramping 7-12 hours a day. Yes, you could say, it’s the real deal! And a magical way to see New Zealand. So Mitchy Wilder being Mitchy Wilder, got the wild and crazy idea that he wanted to do THAT. So, I did that! And 29 days later I had completed The Te Aurora. Well, actually just the North Island section which was about 1,100mi/1700km. But still something that I’m super proud of. And man, was it crazy.

The Te Aurora Trail
Red Line
Photo Cred:

Here’s a little link if you want to check out the trail:


Day 4: Te Aurora Trail
Surfer Backback and No Idea What I’m Doing

It was pretty damn amazing though, I must admit. It taught me so much. For 29 days, I hiked all day everyday. That’s it. I had my life on my back. Was I scared? At first, ABSOLUTELY! I mean, I had ZERO experience hiking. I’d never even gone on an overnight hiking trip before. So, there I went, hiking across a country, by Myself. I started out with a Billabong surfer backpack and Nike shoes, and threw myself into a crash course in everything you need to know about tramping/hiking by doing it. And just by doing the tramping/hiking everyday, I quickly found out what I needed and what I didn’t. The two pictures below will show my drastic backpack transformation over my first weeks of The Te Aurora.

Day 1: Te Aurora Trail
I call this one:
“Surfer backpack with my sleeping bag thrown on top and no idea what I’m doing, just hoping I don’t run outta water!”
90 Mile Beach
Northland, New Zealand
Day 13: Te Aurora Trail
Auckland, New Zealand
February, 2019

And NOW I feel more comfortable out in the wild in a tent and sleeping bag, than I do in cities. But anywho! To summarize it here, I found a real passion for tramping/hiking.

So, that’s exactly what my day 15,16, and 17 consisted of, getting back into the wild. I did this one on my own while my beautiful and delightful partner, Misha, relaxed and recuperated at a b&b on the beach. She’s really earned it though, hitchhiking takes a lot of energy AND not to mention, she’s been stuck in a tent with stinky ole’ me for the past 15 days!!

Misha with her new red hat. Oh and she’s SUPER excited to have a few relaxing days by the beach and sleeping in a bed!

So, there’s really not much else to say here besides how AWESOME it was to be immersed in nature for a few days! I experienced some amazing views, cool animals and plants, and most importantly the peace and serenity that the mountains provide. Oh and some great exercise too!

Feel The Peace
Renata Range
North Island, New Zealand
1 Person Swing Bridge
Otaki Forks
North Island, New Zealand
Just Playin With Rocks
Renata Ridge
North Island, New Zealand
Following “The Orange Triangles” Through The Forest
It felt like at any moment Frodo Baggins was gonna pop out
Renata Ridge
North Island, New Zealand

I would like to take a moment however to express my gratitude toward the New Zealand Department of Conservation. The Department of Conservation, or “DOC” for short, keeps such great care of their endless miles/km of beautiful tracks across New Zealand. Not only their tracks, but their huts also! They have thousands of huts scattered across the country. The huts have everything you need as a tramper; shelter,water(water still needs to be boiled or filtered on your own) and a fireplace, well usually, I’ve found huts without fireplaces because there are no trees at such altitudes!! Those are nights you really appreciate a warm sleeping bag. But the huts are so cozy and I’ve really come to love them. Actually, I’ve found it kind of a fun mission to experience as many as I can. Probably the single greatest thing about the huts though, is that all of them are in super unique places; usually in the middle of nowhere; Precisely designed for the crazy explorers and adventurers of New Zealand.

I’ll share some pictures of the most recent huts I’ve found up in the mountains!

Emily’s Hut
Altitude 2,000m/6,500ft
Mt. Larkins
South Island, New Zealand
Kime Hut
“The Coldest Hut In New Zealand”
Altitude 1,500m/5,000ft
Southern Crossing, New Zealand
North Island
Field Hut
Altitude 1,000m/3,280ft
Otaki Forks
North Island, New Zealand
Mt. Fyffe Hut
“The No Water Here Hut”
Altitude: 1,500m/4,900ft
Kaikoura, New Zealand
South Island
Elder Hut
Altitude: 1,200m/4,000ft
Renata Range
North Island, New Zealand

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