We left the first blog post on a bit of a cliff hanger, about another reason how Approach came to life and how we had to get our butts into gear. I’ve banged on about being a day-dreamer too much, so straight to the point…
I had this idea that it would be fun to try and summit the 4 highest peaks on The North Island of New Zealand, self supported. The inspiration came after I heard about a group of firefighters who summited them in less than 24 hours, achieving this by setting a phenomenal pace and having a support crew to transport them. As soon as I heard about their feat, I dug out the topo maps, packed Liz into the van and went to suss it out. Alongside this, I also plucked up the courage to share my idea and ask a couple of companies if they’d get behind us and help make this idea a reality. I was expecting them to turn round and politely decline, but that’s far from what happened.
The first two companies I asked, said ‘yes...what a great idea, when do you need the kit?’ Both Alpacka Rafts and Radix Nutrition loved my idea and couldn’t wait to help us out, giving me the confidence and self-belief that I can put these daft ideas into place and ultimately make them work. And just like that, from the few ideas and pipe dreams I had been banding around, to the support from actual people who believed in it, and who were keen to hear current and future ideas, Approach began. Suddenly the realisation set in, like the time when you’ve told someone you’ve started a diet and now you’ve got to stick to it otherwise they'll know you’ve failed…ha, we’ve all been there right?!
We’ve spent a fair few hours thinking of the best route, rethinking the best route, asking people for the inside knowledge, and even more hours out there seeing if it is actually doable. Of course it’s doable, it’s just a case of how long, how hard and how direct we want to go.
So here’s the draft plan:
Start, Stage 1: Tongariro National Park, Summit Mount Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro (order still to be decided).
Stage 2: Mountain Bike to The Bridge to Nowhere/Mangapurua Landing (Whanganui River)
Stage 3: Bikeraft/Packraft to the Matemateaonga trail
Stage 4: Hike a bike/ Mtb the Matemateaonga trail to pick up unsealed/sealed roads to Mount Taranaki Stage 5: Summit Mount Taranaki (from the North side).
We plan to carry our own kit for the whole trip, stashing our bikes and excess gear when climbing the mountains; this means packrafts, food and everything else we will need. On paper, the route I have picked seems pretty logical as it’s the most direct route, however, we are very much aware of the terrain on the Matemateaonga track which will be the section that significantly slows us down and tests our patience. This section is largely unrideable (Microsoft dictionary says this isn’t a word, so to clarify, it means we won't be riding our bikes, we will be pushing them, carrying them and more than likely throwing them in the hedgeback and leaving them…) with lots of windfall and overgrown bush blocking the way; however, the scenery and terrain throughout this trail definitely shows some of the best of the North Island and allows views of all four mountains on a clear day.
The four highest peaks on the North Island are all volcanic and pretty accessible with the right knowledge, skillset, fitness and kit, they are (in height order):
1. Mount Ruapehu 2797m
2. Mount Taranaki/Egmont 2518m
3. Mount Ngauruhoe 2287m
4. Mount Tongariro 1978m
What makes this trip more realistic is that 3 of the 4 mountains are in the Central Plateau, Tongariro National Park, with only Mount Taranaki standing alone by itself on the west coast- a picture perfect postcard.
As I write this, the Alpacka packrafts are mid transit and the stock of Radix Nutrition is sat staring at me, all we need now is some annual leave, fine tuning of the details and another reccy trip to the central plateau.
But why oh why did I say February… work is going to kill me having already maximised my annual leave. Of course there was a reason to the timing of this, which stems around the likely weather conditions and hours of daylight. We are not out there to set the fastest time (this could be something for the future), but we plan to keep moving as much as we can until we reach that invisible finish line. We’re not afraid of hours on the feet, metres of elevation, or miles of terrain being covered, so we’ll give it a good nudge to do it efficiently, as well as being sensible and not killing each other in the process.
We will be posting more details of the trip stages over the coming weeks and most definitely will share the best and worst parts of the trip as we go.
This trip pretty much summarises what Liz and I love to do the most. Not only does it give us the chance to showcase what we think is some of the best scenery on The North Island, but it also allows us to share the trails and landscape that are accessible to all.
We hope to inspire you to get out there and make the most of this beautiful country.
Finally, I’d like to make a special mention to John & Leonie Bettridge, MyRide Mount Maunganui who have continued to support myself and Liz, even though we are no longer racing triathlons. They took a punt on me when we were moved here, taking us both under their wing and making us part of their family. How they run their business and support the local community is something that we at Approach relate to and line our values alongside.