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I get email – Maps and food drops

October 9, 2010

I got an email yesterday from somebody who intends to do the Te Araroa next year. They asked two questions. What am I doing about maps? and What am I doing about food drops? My answers are below for you all to read.

Maps – I spent a lot of time humming and harring on maps. I wondered whether I’d have to buy a full set of 1:50,000 topos, or whether a GPS with the mapping feature would be best.

My decision was made just yesterday. Simon Cook, a British guy who is setting off on the Te Araroa in a couple of weeks as well, has put together the entire set of topos from the sets freely available from LINZ (Land Information NZ) with track overlay, and as A4 .gifs so they are easy to handle and print. They look really spiffy too. I simply printed and bound the set and voila I have all the maps that I need.

I probably will get myself a broader maps just to use as a general reference when I am working on, say, food drops, and to show people that I meet roughly where I am tramping.

Oh, and I will also carry a compass (always important) and a little Garmin eTrex H GPS unit.

Food drops - Most people I spoke to in my research phase didn’t bother too much with food drops. There seems to be a town, they said, with adequate supplies whenever you need one. Well, I am a vegan, so will eer on the side of caution and will organise food drops of staple supplies to some parts of the track. Some towns that have only limited facilities may lack the necessary variety of things I require. Which makes me out to be some needy fuss-pot, but hey, I like to be well-planned. Plus, small town supermarkettes (as they seem to be called in NZ) are often very pricy.

So, I will be posting a small package of staples to list of towns on both the North and South Island legs of the track. I will start the phoning around when I arrive in Auckland but expect to post the packages to backpacker hostels that I have a booking at in these towns. The one I am staying at in Ponsonby, Auckland (Ponsonby Backpackers), has been rather willing to accept incoming packages, so I do hope the rest are as willing.

There only seems to be a couple of stretches where a restock is necessary and there is no town along the way. These are between Havelock and St Arnaud and Arthurs Pass and Lake Tekapo. Some people when doing the Havelock to St Arnaud stretch detour off track where the Pelorus Track meets the Richmond Alpine Track and restock in Nelson. This makes a 12-odd day stretch two shorter stretches, and for a lighter pack. I will consider this option but will also check what the people at the Nelson Marlborough DoC office and Nelson Tramping Club are doing at the time (I will look into this when I’ve finished the North Island around Christmas time) as they may be able to assist with a drop.

As for the Arthurs to Tekapo leg, most people arrange a drop to Mesopotamia Station and book accommodation to stay there a night. That’s what I will be doing.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 11, 2010 6:05 am

    Hi Paul. I’d definitely go with something on paper, even if it were only as a backup. :)

    Hey, I noticed that Simon’s maps don’t include the grid references from the maps, cos they’ve been cut off the edges. If you’re running around with a GPS that gives you grid references, you may need to get the reference numbers onto the maps somehow for the GPS to be useful.

    Also, if you weren’t already aware, keep in mind that those simple bright yellow eTrex GPS models don’t natively support the new New Zealand Transverse Mercator map grid that’s been officially in use for a year now, and which applies to those maps. Garmin’s reportedly stated they’re not updating the firmware to support NZTM on those models, but you can enter some custom parameters from the LINZ website (found here) and it should work fine.

    On a related note, if you want 20+ Topo50 maps at a time and know which ones you want, you can put in a bulk order direct to the LINZ warehouse and get them for about $3.50 each (possibly slightly more now that GST’s increased). Maybe you could get them GST-free if shipped to Australia. I prefer the official printed maps, but I’m also not planning to carry quite as many as you. :) Flick me an email if you want details for how to order them., though.

    Have fun.

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