It was on this day in 2015 that myself and three others began our 10 day, 240km trek across New Zealand from the filming location of Hobbiton in Matamata to the filming location of Mount Doom (Mt. Ngaurahoe) on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Now, as you can probably imagine, this is not a hike (or a tramp as they say in New Zealand) that you decide to spontaneously do.
As this was the first multi-day hike longer than three days that myself and two of the others had done, there were months of planning that went into this.
Personally, I spent most of 2015 getting my body mentally and physically ready for what we were about to do.
But why did we do it? Apart from all of us being hardcore Lord of the Rings fans and keen hikers, there were three others who had done it before us.
However, they did it in 6 days and did very little preparation for it. They basically destroyed their bodies in the process.
They created a DVD about their journey, and the more I watched it and furthered my interest in hiking, the more I knew I could do this but far more efficiently.
So, after almost a year of planning, which included a short four-day reccy mission into New Zealand last May, as well as sending over a food parcel at the start of December, we set off on our trek at 8 am on December 27th, 2015.
We had taken the tour of Hobbiton the day before so it wouldn’t cut into our time on the road when walking the following.
However, we did start our trek outside the gates where the buses enter the farmland area.
Our destination that day was 30kms away in a town called Putaruru (pronounced Pu-ta-roo) where were staying at the Putaruru Arms Motor Inn.
This would be one of many days following the highway which meant we were exposed to the conditions regularly.
This particular day was 28 degrees Celsius which I felt was essentially the equivalent of Australia’s 35 degrees.
Even despite our best efforts to keep reapplying sunscreen, two of our company got badly sunburnt.
One of them was so badly burnt that the back of his hand had what almost looked like third-degree burns. Tip #1: New Zealand’s sun is a bitch. Don’t underestimate it whatsoever.
Whilst walking on the road and through towns may sound boring and not what traditional hiking is about, it was an advantage for us o have should we need extra supplies on the way through.
Our goal was to stop every two hours and have a break in a nice shaded area. I can’t speak for the others, but I think this frequency of breaks seemed to work; particularly if you are walking for eight hours or more.
After nine hours on the road, we finally arrived at the motel at around 5pm. As we had a food parcel waiting for us to pick up on day two, we had the advantage of not having to carry full packs. Well, not yet anyway.