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Te Araroa Trail walker Victoria Bruce

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April 2022 Issue

Victoria Bruce is walking Te Araroa Trail with her daughter Emilie.

Since she’s carrying the bulk of their kit, Victoria is balancing lightweight gear with a few creature comforts including her watercolours and sketch pad as the pair immerse themselves in nature on their journey across New Zealand.

Sleep system

I sleep cold and love the feel of a warm sleeping bag, so it’s taken a while to get used to my Sea to Summit women’s Flame II which has a comfort rating of 2°C. It weighs 500g and is warm enough when paired with a Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Liner. It squashes down to a tiny size and quickly lofts when unpacked. I’m also using a Sea to Summit UltraLight insulated sleeping mat. I like to sleep on my front or my side, so this thin 440g pad works well.


My Lunette moon cup is a must for the ladies. A tiny jar of rosehip seed oil helps protect my Scottish skin from the harsh elements. Microfibre face, body and pee cloths. First aid kit. 


The Garmin InReach 66i has good battery life and it’s comforting to know we can use it to call for emergency assistance should we need to.


I’m using a sample of Macpac’s new Te Araroa pack which is due to hit stores at the end of 2022. The women’s version is 55l and weighs around 1500g. The main fabric is a light canvas. It’s fairly sturdy and I like the single internal compartment and large external pocket for storing quick access items like my rain jacket or for packingmy wet tent fly.


My Toaks Titanium Pot is the perfect size for a standard gas canister and the right capacity to rehydrate dinner for two. I use it with a self-igniting Amicus Stove which is really efficient.

Walking poles

My KomperdellExplorer Compact Titanal hiking poles weigh 220g each.


I wanted a durable and lightweight jacket so opted for a Patagonia Torrentshell 3L which has kept me dry during several deluges. My size (small) weighs around 300g.


We’re using a Blackdeer Archaos ultralight two-person tent, highly recommended by a friend. It’s around 1500g with a footprint and has performed well in heavy rain, wind and a bit of snow. We bought it for less than $200 and it’s been a great piece of kit.


I’m in a pair of Altra Lone Peak 5.0 trail shoes for the bulk of the trail walking and will swap these out for Scarpa boots on alpine sections in the South Island.


I like drawing and painting the landscapes we pass through – it’s a lovely way to relax at the end of the day. I carry a Derwent watercolour travel kit, watercolour pad, graphite sketching pencils and a sketchpad.


Our other clothes are either Macpac or Icebreaker. We’ve both been living in Macpac shorts. Emilie’s are bright orange and mine are pink, so you’ll see us coming. We’ve each got a set of thermals for cold nights, a fleece top, and two pairs of merino knickers and socks.