I’m trying…

I’m trying. I’m really trying to accept the fact that I’m not hiking anymore. That I’m going back to a normal life in Sweden in a couple of weeks. It’s bittersweet. I’m genuinely happy that I’m done, I don’t wanna walk one single meter in the mud anymore…but on the other hand, I miss the “easy” life on trail – to wake up when the sun rises, walk from a to b and go to bed when it’s dark (or usually earlier). A huge part of me misses my routines though, and I’m really looking forward to coming home to my family and friends. Confusing.

The hardest part is not the confusion, though. It’s the fact that I don’t understand what I’ve done…well, I know I’ve walked 3000 kilometers, but what does it mean to me? And why are the memories blurry already, why can’t I really remember what I did between October 30 and March 8? I need to sit down, look at my thousands of photos and read all my journals…’cause right now, it’s kind of faded away. 

Everyone else I talk to seem to understand, though. They can’t believe it and keep telling me what an achievement it is to walk the length of an entire country…especially people living here who haven’t seen even a tiny part of what I’ve seen along the way. 

I received an email from a woman I met just before the Tararua Ranges on the North Island, the part when I had the scary, windy and foggy experience on Mount Crawford and the hardest part on trail that far (before I reached the South Island with all its mountains, that is). Emails like this help me to understand, but still – it’ll take time to let everything sink in. 

“I was really inspired by you and was seriously contemplating doing the Te Araroa walk myself, so I got my Mum to drop me off at the Shannon end of the Mangahao-Makahika Track, with the intention of taking 6-7 days to walk to Otaki – a very easy goal to attain. Well it was anything but! I only made it to Waiopehu Hut (not even sure if you stayed there?) Anyway, I had the hut to myself with great views. But omg, it was so hard – up & up & up & up & UP. When you go down you don’t wanna go down because you know you’ve still more up. Course I thought of you quite a bit and I have to say, I think you’re ABSOLUTELY AMAZING for what you’ve achieved. Physically and mentally. My pack was only 10kg inc. tent – how you did it with a 25kg one, I do not know. The main reason I didn’t make it tho’ was because my boots fell apart, which I was secretly pleased about. Need to buy a new pair. Someone told me later that the Tararua range (where we met), is the hardest part of the Te Araroa, but after reading your site, I don’t agree!”

Will I ever understand what I’ve done?

Lunch break in the Tarauas, January 2016.

I’m done.

3007 kilometers. Cape Reinga to Bluff. I’m done. Actually, I was done one week ago but I’m still recovering from post hike depression…I’m tired. I’m unbelievably tired but also happy. I raised NZD27000 (SEK162000) to the Swedish cancer society Cancerfonden. I’m happy and thankful. Blessed beyond my wishings.

 I’ll be back.


Stirling Point, Bluff.

My most beautiful medal. So far.

Hot hills and a huge pizza

My cold is cured, I’m back on track and the countdown to Bluff has begun. 

Walking out from Wanaka along Lake Wanaka was amazingly beautiful, although hot…I’ve really experienced the Otago sun by now. I’ve said it before, but the sun in this country is nothing like what I’ve been experienced before!


Lake Wanaka…
I caught up with Chris from NZ and Petr from Czech Rebublic and we ended up doing the Motatapu Alpine Track together. Oh well, they’re a bit too fast for me (Petr has the longest legs on trail!) but at least I had great company in all the huts at night.
The first section wasn’t too hard, it started out flat and beautiful, continued a little bit uphill but even if it wasn’t the hardest day, I ended up pretty exhausted in Camp Stream Hut in the afternoon. The heat is getting me all the time.


An easy start…
Camp Stream Hut.
The second day was harder. Way harder. We climbed up from 700-800 meters to 1200 meters and steep down aaaaaall the way back again. 


Ridge walking.
After a lunch in the only shade we could find, we climbed over another 1200 meter saddle before once again coming all the way down again…down to Roses Hut where we stayed the night. 

The third day started with a climb over Roses Saddle and all the way down to Arrow River. My pole broke and the sun almost killed me, so I was happy to walk IN the river for a couple of hours.


Stayed the night in Arrowtown and the next day after an easy and not too hot and sunny walk I finally reached Queenstown!


Lake Wakatipu
We went to have the biggest pizza (20 inches!) on trail at Fat Badgers Pizza and I haven’t been so full since we made huge burgers at a holiday park in Kerikeri in November. 


Hiker size pizza…
The city is crazy busy and fully booked so I tried to look for a place to stay by posting on Facebook. It turned out that my friend Erika back home in Sweden knows a girl who once met an Australian guy in Thailand…who now lives in Queenstown. I ended up on the couch in his and his flat mates place. Thankful!

After a day off in rainy Queenstown I’m ready to hit the trail again tomorrow. It’s only 321 kilometers to go and I can’t believe it! Thanks for your support so far – let’s finish this!


Sweat, pain and thankfulness.

It’s been awhile…again (I hope you’re all following me on Instagram for more regular updates: @helenateodora). Last time I wrote anything here, I was about to hit the Nelson Lake National Park. A lot has happened since. A LOT.
I’ve made it through Nelson Lake National Park. It was stunningly beautiful even though a bit challenging because of a couple of rainy and windy days… I got stuck in Blue Lake Hut for a day to wait out the rain before I could make it over Waiau Pass and enjoy the views over the amazingly beautiful Lake Constance.


Overlooking Lake Constance.
I’ve passed the 2000 kilometer mark together with German Susy and French BarnabĂ©. 2000! Felt a bit overwhelming even though I was a bit too tired to celebrate, we had a long day and I was pretty exhausted.


I’ve experienced the NZ sun, it’s something else from the one shining on me at home. The ozone layer down here is extremely thin and the sun is harsh and boiling hot, even without a 25 kilo backpack. But half of me loves it, I rather be here than in the dark and freezing winter in Sweden (even though I miss my family as h*ll!).


Hot hot hot!
I’ve been in pain, my knees have been hurting and my hip has been really, really sore. I had to skip a section through the Deception River because of it and had to take three days off at The Sanctuary (the greatest place to stay in the village!) in Arthur’s Pass. I met Lucas from Germany, he’s a chiropractor and helped me get rid of the worst pain. Trail angel!


A trail angel and his patient.
I’ve got stuck for three days at Mt Hutt Bunkhouse (amazing place!) because of my pain…and I’ve been hitching with a helicopter from Mt Hutt Helicopters over the huge rivers Rakaia and Rangitata (hazard zones that you’re meant to hitch around) – an amazing experience! 


The Rangitata River from above.
I’ve made it over Stag Saddle – the highest point on Te Araroa, and I’ve seen the beautiful lakes of sunny, hot Otago. 


Stag Saddle!
Ridgewalking down to Lake Tekapo…
I’ve spent a night overlooking Mt Cook and I’ve been on a bike (thanks to trail angel Katrin who met me and brought me a bike and a lot of food!) for two days…trying to save my hip. 


Not a bad place for biking…
Lake Pukaki – one of my favorite campspots so far.
And…I’ve been skipping another section over Breast Hill due to a severe weather warning with heavy rain, thunder and gale winds…and I’ve caught a cold which I’m trying to cure with a couple of days off in beautiful Wanaka.


I have 412 kilometers to go. 412!!! Feels surreal. I’m almost there. Almost there.

Hello South Island…

I’ve tasted the South Island…it’s as bittersweet as the rest of Te Araroa. Harder than you could ever imagine and more beautiful than in your wildest dreams. I love it.


Leaving the North Island…
The Queen Charlotte Track was a beautiful and easy warmup for what’s to come…the majestic Richmond Ranges. 


Queen Charlotte Track.
Richmond Ranges.
Steep uphill hiking. Steep downhill sliding. Countless river crossings and constantly wet feet. Narrow trail with adrenaline rushing through my body. Windy summits and beautiful ridge walking. Heavy rain and harsh, hot sun. Boulder climbing and slippery rocks. Pouring sweat and tears of exhaustion. But I made it. I conquered my fears and I made it out to St Arnaud and a well earned day off.


Follow the markers…
Tussock in the wind.
 1941 kilometers are done and tomorrow, I’m off to Nelson Lake National Park together with my hiker buddies Stevie and Jackie from the US and Jamie from Australia. Another week in the wilderness awaits and I can’t wait! Are you still with me!?

Swingbridges…swingbridges everywhere.

North Island – check!!!

I’ve made it to Wellington and the North Island is DONE! Can’t believe I’ve walked 1700 kilometers..!

I cried the last kilometer out of happiness, exhaustion and relief, and I’m so thankful that my body (and all of you following me!) has been with me all the way… I have 1300 kilometers to go, but to finish the North Island is a HUGE milestone along the way. 


Island Bay.
I’m sorry for not being as good as I thought I would be at posting on my blog along the way, it’s just so many other things to focus on…like surviving and try to keep my head up (and a smile on my face). Follow me on Instagram (@helenateodora) for more frequent updates.

I’m also hugely thankful and almost speechless for already raising over SEK 105000 to Cancerfonden (the Swedish cancer foundation). THANK YOU, it means a lot to me!!! 

This afternoon, I’m leaving for the South Island and on Wednesday I’ll start Queen Charlotte Track – which is a “Great Walk” here in New Zealand. I’m looking forward to the south, its mountains and stunning views but I would lie if I said I’m not a bit nervous…I have a huge respect for Mother Nature. Keep your fingers crossed that the weather will stay good…snow can fall in any season down there.

The challenging Tararua Ranges. More of this to come on the South Island…