The Answer for me: $16,153.52 (NZD).
This was a very hard question to answer. I wanted to set out to answer it because it’s asked by potential trampers over and over and over again. Since Day 1 I tried to track every cent I spent, just so that when somebody asks me that question I can give them a definitive answer.
I realised as time went on that it’s not as easy to answer as I thought. During the trail I stopped and restarted four times, so that made it hard to know what to include and what not to include. Do I include what I spent on rest days? Do I include what I spent during the month that I took off injured? Do I include the flights that I took to get back to Auckland at Christmas?
I would say that the biggest cost of walking Te Araroa is the “opportunity cost” of not working – the money that I would have received had I worked for the six months instead of hiking. It’s impossible to put a precise figure on that but obviously six months’ salary is not an insignificant amount.
After much umming and ahhing, I decided that the amount I spent on the trail was $16,153.52. This included getting to the start of the trail and a flight home at the end. It didn’t include any flights that I took to get home for Christmas or when I got injured.
Regarding injury time – it does include the money I spent during the week I spent injured at the start but it does not include the money I spent during the month I spent injured towards the end. This is because I think most people will probably spend a week off injured at some point during the trail, but the month I spent off was unusual and I flew back to Auckland during this time so I didn’t include this. I wanted to include costs that would be typical of the costs most hikers would incur and exclude any that I think would not happen on most people’s walk.
In saying that, this is more than I would expect people to spend if they’re on a budget. It would definitely be possible to bring this cost down substantially if required.
GEAR COST: $4,863.21
The initial cost of my gear – includes all the gear I bought before the start of the trail: $ 3,910.40
The money I spent on gear after I started walking: $ 952.81
This cost could obviously be reduced for seasoned trampers who already own gear. Since this was my first overnight hike, I had to buy almost all of the gear from scratch.
At the end of this page you should be able to see my costs spreadsheet, which also contains the breakdown of the cost of my gear.
FOOD COST: $5,823.24
What I spent on restaurants, takeaways, cafe food, drinks – basically any food or drink consumed immediately: $ 3,872.94
What I spent on resupplies and groceries: $ 1,950.30
This could definitely be reduced for people on a budget. I didn’t make any effort to keep my costs down in this area. If I came into a town and I wanted food, I got it.
DONATIONS (“KOHA”): $611.50
The Te Araroa Trust requests that all people who walk the trail give a suggested donation of $500, which I did. This is important for the future of the trail and I encourage every single person walking the trail to do this.
There were also donations to other people I met who fundraised while they walked, and donations to people who let you stay on their land.
Tent sites: $222.00
Dorm rooms: $465.00
Motel rooms and private cabins: $1,842.88
AirBNB – room in shared house: $128.90
AirBNB – entire place: $344.52
There were some times where it would have been tempting to stay in a motel room every night where one exists, but I did this maybe half the time, depending on the weather and the mood. Nearly every town and village has a holiday park where a tent can be set up, so staying in motels is not necessary.
Day 0 – Uber from my house to Intercity bus station and bus to Kaitaia: $25.11
Day 0 – Utea Park transport to Cape Reinga: $85
Day 13 – Intercity bus from Kerikeri to Whangarei and back while I was injured: $56.98
Day 16 – Bus within Whangarei: $1
Day 21 – Opua to Okiato ferry: $1
Day 25 – Fee to walk across Maori Land: $5
Day 26 – Transport across Whangarei Harbour: $5
Day 34 – Puhoi Canoe Hire: $55
Day 35 – Devonport Ferry: $7.50
Day 42 – Lime Scooter to train station: $5.56
Day 43 – Intercity bus to Auckland from Ngaruawahia to stay at home: $38.99
Day 45 – Bus within Auckland: $3.50
Day 56 – Taumarunui Canoe Hire: $215
Day 69 – Uber within Palmertson North: $9.41
Days 70 and 71 – Buses within Palmerston North: $5
Day 73 – Intercity bus to Otaki for new shoes: $26.99
Day 81 – Jump scooter hire Wellington: $2.20
Days 81 and 82 – Train and bus within Wellington: $10
Day 82 – In theory I paid $55-ish for a ticket on the Bluebridge Ferry from Wellington to Picton. However, they never actually appeared to charge me for it. I have looked at my bank statement several times and I can’t find any charge from them!
Day 82 – Water taxi Picton to Ship Cove: $50
Day 139 – Methven campground shuttle to south side of Rakaia River: $30
Day 142 – Alps2Ocean shuttle around Rangitata River: $70
Day 155 – Flight back home (Queenstown to Auckland short notice): $369
OTHER COSTS: $734.53
This included mobile phone topups, physio, pharmacy, post shop, WiFi, hut pass, doctor, Queen Charlotte track fee, food box pickup and sports massage.
Here’s my spreadsheet. This is the gear I was using at the end of the trail. You can see things that I switched out for other things, or simply removed, at the bottom of the list. If you can’t see it, please let me know by leaving a comment below – sometimes it just stops working for absolutely no reason!