Since 2003, having read Geoff Chapple first book about the Te Araroa trail, I have wanted to walk the length of New Zealand. In December 2016 at the age of 47 I suddenly had a strong and clear realization that I had been putting off a ‘bucket list’ experience and the only one that could change that was myself. So I handed in my resignation and told as many friends and family as possible that I would be off walking the country.
The experience was to follow Te Araroa – The New Zealand Trail, which is 3,000 km from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Typically hikers commence from Cape Reinga in November and walk south to Bluff, however as I did not commence until late January I made the walk from Bluff north to Cape Reinga. Its a journey that usually takes the best part of 4 months or approximately two months per island to walk. It is not a race and as I was intending to make the trip alone I needed to be cautious, rational and take it slow. I wanted to enjoy the journey and make it all the way safely and in one piece. Plus I also wanted to get out and meet New Zealanders, stop to help with events and walk other trails around New Zealand which are not part of the official Te Araroa trail. This effort was not to go unrewarded, therefore I was fundraising and raising awareness for St John along the way. I reached Cape Reinga 153 days later on 24th June 2017.
Fast forward to 2020 and a pandemic grips the globe. The cruise industry which I work in has ceased to operate and so I have left my beloved work to walk New Zealand again. This time the plan is to walk Te Araroa from North to South (SOBO or South Bound) commencing from Cape Reinga on Sunday 15th November 2020. The intended walk will take the good part of 4 to 5 months to walk the country to Bluff, and maybe Stewart Island as well. Again the effort is not to go unrewarded, so I will be fundraising and raising awareness for St John along the way. It will be a different walk from 2017. For one there are no international walkers who would normally bolster the TA numbers in their hundreds. However I am delighted to be walking with my ex Princess Cruises colleague Paulette who is ticking it off her bucket list.