We have given ourselves a window of 4 months, or 120 days, to complete the traverse. Setting out from Farewell Spit on November 1st 2016, we will travel southward and hope to reach the south coast near Tuatapere by March 1st 2017.
Our route will take us through many different types of landscapes, including tracked and untracked sections and lowlands and mountains, and we will change our style of travel, and the equipment we carry along the way.
From Farewell Spit to Arthurs Pass, we will travel light and fast. From Farewell Spit, we will bike to the start of the Anatoki track and travel by foot through the sculpted karst-landscapes of the Tasman and Wharepapa/Arthur ranges via the Dragons’ Teeth, the Arthur Tablelands and Mt Owen.
After cycling beside the Buller River along SH63, we will continue our tramping journey from St Arnauds through the Nelson Lakes National Park, via the Spencer Mountains to Lewis Pass. From Lewis Pass, we will continue through Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass, which we hope reach by early December for optimal snow conditions in the Arthurs Pass to Mt Cook village section.
We would like to do this first section in ‘fast and light’ style. Because of the abundance of huts, well-established tracks and the possibility of closely spaced food-drops, we will be travelling in lightweight footwear with smaller packs for this section.
From Arthurs Pass south all the way to the Hollyford, the style of the trip will change as our route will take us over numerous high passes, glaciers and peaks. We'll switch into mountaineering boots, and load our packs with climbing gear. Over the course of the month of December we will thread our way southward via the Bracken Snowfield, the Gardens of Allah and Eden, Classen Saddle and, finally, Tasman Saddle and down the Tasman to Mt Cook village.
We have allowed over 2 weeks for the section between Mt Cook village and the Haast highway, so as to give ourselves time to attempt either the first full tops traverse from Mt Strauchan to Mt Dechen, or the still unclimbed NW ridge of Mt Humphries, from the Landsborough valley.
South of Makarora, we hope to repeat the seldom done traverse from Pearsone Saddle, over the Volta and Therma glaciers to Colin Todd Hut on the northwestern side of Mt Aspiring. All going well, and the time and weather permitting, we will then travel onwards via the Olivine Ice Plateau before farewelling the Southern Alps at the Hollyford River.
After traversing the Darrans mountains to Milford Sound, we will walk the Milford track for some respite before paddling the length of Lake Te Anau and Manapouri. From West Arm, we will follow the Dusky track as far as Furketts Pass on the Pleasant Range, before striking out into the depths of southwest Fiordland along the Heath Range. We will paddle the length of Long Sound, so that we can finish our 4 month journey by venturing through New Zealand’s most remote sound to Puysegur Point and (hopefully) onwards along the bottom of the island to Te Waewae Bay.