Last summer, Michelle Green completed the North Island section of Te Araroa and is now embarking on the South Island leg. She films and publishes her TA journey on the Long White Gypsy YouTube channel.
Striving for what she calls 'Kiwi lightweight', the gear she carries strikes a balance between true ultralight gear and the specific characteristics of tramping in the New Zealand backcountry.
On a thru-hike, weight is a big consideration so I use a Zpacks Arc Haul 62L pack. It weighs just 680g (with two belt pouches). I love the single compartment roll-top closure system. The side pockets can easily carry four litres of water and the front mesh pouch is great for quick access items like rain gear and my Deuce of Spades trowel.
I tend to sleep cold, so I love the 6cm cushioning and high R-value of my Therm-A-Rest Neoair Xlite sleeping pad. I pair this with an Enlightened Equipment Enigma -12℃ quilt filled with 800 loft hydrophobic down. Unlike some quilts, it has an enclosed footbox to keep my toes warm.
Although expensive, my Zpacks Duplex is like a backcountry apartment. Technically a two-person tent, it’s big enough to get both me and all my gear inside away from pesky possums and rodents. It uses hiking poles to set up (reducing base weight), is unbelievably light (just 700g with six stakes) and is quick drying.
When you’re hiking 30km-plus a day, rest is important. I like a comfortable (and dry) place to sit when I take a break so I use a Therm-A-Rest Z-Seat pad.
Cooking and hydration
My Toaks Titanium 900ml pot easily fits a gas canister, small towel and
my STS X-Mug (for those morning cuppas). I boil water with an MSR Pocket Rocket and eat with a Toaks Titanium long handle spoon (both of which live in a Zpacks DCF food bag). To conserve gas, I fashioned a pot cosy from insulation material and aluminium tape. And I filter all my water on trail with a Sawyer Squeeze filter.
I didn’t get a single blister while hiking the North Island, which I attribute to my footwear system: a combination of Altra Lone Peak trail runners, Injinji toe socks and Dirty Girl gaiters. I also carry a pair of Croc Swiftwater sandals for camp.
On the North Island, I filmed a video diary so I carried more electronics than most. I use my iPhone and Garmin GPS Map 66i for navigation and communication and carry an ACR ResQLink PLB. This year, I’m going pro with a Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera and a DJI Osmo Action camera, plus plenty of extra batteries, SD cards and filters. I hope to keep everything juiced up with an Anker power bank.
First Aid and toiletries
My basic first aid kit includes personal medication and lots of sunscreen. Along with standard toiletries I also carry a small chunk of eco soap to freshen up with after a long day hiking and my STS Airlite towel to dry off.