Former Salomon employee Jean Hacquart recently hiked the length of New Zealand from the northernmost point of the North Island to the southernmost point of the South Island, then bicycled back from south to north. In total, it was a 6,000-km journey. Jean is sharing his advice on how to do your own thru-hike in a series of posts here on Salomon.com. In this story, he offers advice on how to manage your food and water on a thru-hike.
December 30, 2018
Wellington, New Zealand’s North Island
Yesterday, I finished hiking the 1,689 kilometers of the North Island! It’s a nice milestone for two reasons: I’m more than halfway and in a couple of days I’ll be walking through one of the most beautiful places on earth, New Zealand’s South Island. Yet, I can’t believe that the North Island is already in the mirror. Kayaking the Whanganui River early in the morning, fighting for hours in the muddy forests to realize that my pace was about the same as a snail—not abnormal for a Frenchman, however—and being stuck in a hut in the Tararua range during Christmas. These are a few of the unforgettable memories I’ll carry with me. And the good news is that carrying those memories won’t weighing down my backpack!
FOOD AND WATER ADVICE
The changing weather I’ve been dealing with the last few weeks has forced me to pay special attention to my re-supply of food and water. And what I can tell is that the most important rule here is to always carry extra. I know it’s hard to do once you’ve lightened your backpack as much as possible before your trip, but it’s mandatory no matter your fitness level. As I said before, I got stuck for 36 hours in a hut because of wind and rain that stop me from getting over an exposed crest. Fortunately, I had an extra day of food and it ended up being an incredible moment.
As for the kind of food I’m carrying with me, it’s only based on the calorie/weight ratio (which translates to “boring and tasteless” in your normal life). So welcome couscous, peanut butter and wraps, and say goodbye vegetables! Even if I’m rushing to eat the latter as soon as I’m in a town, my diet is far from fresh and balanced. Still, it’s the only way for me to eat the 5,000 calories per day that I need and still have not too much weight on my back (approximately 1 kilo of food per day).
But even more important than food is water. As soon as you start to be dehydrated your performances drop. Luckily, there is water everywhere in this country and even if sometimes the only thing I want is the rain to stop, it’s pleasant not to have to carry more than two liters at a time. Yet, I always have a plan B if the next stream happens to be dry and always carry a little extra. Last but not least, the water quality: if I have a doubt, usually close to civilization, I always filter my water. Intestinal problems in the middle of the night in a tent aren’t a wonderful experience to live, believe me.
So be safe and happy trails!