Te Araroa Trail Gear Picks By Ultra Trail Runner Paul Giblin

In December 2023, Paul Giblin set off from the lighthouse at Cape Reinga, taking his first steps on the Te Araroa trail - a 3,000 km trail stretching the length of New Zealand.

He arrived in Bluff, the southern most point of the South Island, just 52 days later.

Despite completing the Te Araroa trail during the summer months, Paul met all kinds of weather - from torrential rain, to blistering heat, and even snow.

Below are the top pieces of gear that Paul used day-in, day-out during his Te Araroa journey.

The Te Araroa Trail is as varied as it gets! You can be running on a long sandy beach in the morning, and wading through deep mud in a native forest in the afternoon. So, here are a few of things that I relied on every day:


Garmin In Reach Mini Tracker for Te Araroa Trail

(1) My Garmin Tracker

Yes, it was essential for me to record my run and to update the tracking page so that people could follow the journey, but it also doubled up as a communication device for my support crew (Alice) when in areas with no phone signal.

This was especially useful when running in the South Island, and I had long, challenging days and we weren’t sure if I’d manage to get out to the meeting point close to the agreed meeting time (or at at all!!).

Yes, you need to have a subscription to use it but it helped to keep us moving, and reduce stress levels on the support side. TrackMe NZ helped us set everything up and were very helpful with everything. I used a Garmin InReach Mini. It weighs 100 grams and allows you to send and receive SMS messages.

Roam Energy Nut Butter Food for the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand

(2) My Roam Energy Nut Butter sachets

Who doesn’t love nut butter? But let’s face it, carrying a jar and spoon isn’t practical, but when running day after day and hour after hour, you need all the calories you can get!

Roam Energy Nut Butter allowed me to better manage my intake. Yes, I still needed carbohydrates but at lower intensities I wanted to ensure I was also taking on enough protein and fat.

For me, I managed to find a really good system to help me on the longer days. I could take on some carbs and a nut butter at the same time (something like a granola bar or chew, or banana) - and then it felt like I’d get an energy lift fairly quickly and one that would last much longer than it would with just a carb focused gel for example. 

The added bonuses: they’re tasty, are more savoury than other sports nutrition (so I can stomach them for much longer and more frequently. Double-bonus - they were so good when I was doing overnights in the huts. I added a couple to my breakfast porridge to upgrade the taste and nutrition profile!

GoPro Camera for the Te Araroa Trail

(3) GoPro camera with small tripod

The Te Araroa is a truly epic trail and you get to places that most people will never see.

Most of the time I was alone, so it’s worthwhile recording some of the places you’ve been, so you can remember those moments and share them with others.

I’ll be producing a short film of the adventure and I’d never be able to without my trusty GoPro.

Paul Giblin Running Te Araroa Trail in Topo Running Shoes

(4) Topo Shoes 

The terrain you will encounter along the Te Araroa trail is incredibly varied, so I really needed options in the footwear department.

I love the feel of Topo shoes and was fortunate enough to have options (I had 7 pairs of Topo shoes in total for this journey) suitable for road and smoother trails as well as grippier models for the rough mountain sections. So whatever brand you like - make sure you have some good options suitable for road, sand, steep technical mountains, mud and rough grass. Select shoes that have good drainage - your feel will get wet! :D

(5) A small water filter

I learned this one the hard way. A hot 12-hour day with just one 500 mL bottle of water was harder than it should have been. So I added a water filter to my kit to provide extra security: if I could find a decent source of water I’d be able to stay hydrated safely. It was well used in the end. Remember - when you get dehydrated, your performance and decision making can become impaired. 

Best Gear for Te Araroa Trail New Zealand

Other critical items:

  • A lightweight waterproof jacket (doubled-up as a windproof)
  • A heavier waterproof shell for those high mountain passes
  • Good socks
  • A hat to keep the sun off
  • Insect repellant for the sandflies
  • Phone and battery pack
  • Lightweight pot and burner
  • Good dehydrated food options (for overnights)
  • Emergency foil bivvy
  • And most importantly, a never-give-up attitude :)