Why walk the length of New Zealand?

I have always explored ‘my back yard’ but almost never on foot. 

Last week I drove to Wellington, across the North Island to Whanganui, down the west coast and returned the east coast.  A round trip on roads I haven’t travelled on in a long while, driving along the roads each side of the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges.  I’ll be walking on the Tararua Ranges in a couple of months.

I know New Zealand pretty well doing these road trips but this long path is only known best by those who walk it.

Our land is fragile due to weather and continual change and is further impacted by our walking presence.  Paths are widened by hikers avoiding tricky sections by not staying on the designated path trampling on vegetation beside the track. Often there are choices to pass wet areas, my plan is to go straight up the middle through them. I was hiking in the Kaimai Ranges a week or so ago and a tree had fallen across the track, I was so surprised at the area of vegetation impacted from hikers walking around it.  There was a path through and over the fallen tree that involved some bush whacking on the slope, it was obvious to me the safest way through was to stay on the path.

In travelling solo, I know that I’ll be safe as long as there is water and I continue to believe I’m resourceful enough to sustain myself with what I carry.  The idea of setting off each day, not knowing how far I’ll get, or what I’ll see is adventurous to me.  

The origins and historic routes in NZ fascinate me.  I’ve read stories of how my family’s remained connected using routes across the North Island.  They travelled on foot, by horse and in carts to get to their destination. Regular walking tracks widened to become roads over time as goods and trading increased bringing my family from South Taranaki to Tauranga.

Te Araroa is my chance to walk direct south to experience paths first made by land animals before becoming well-worn foot tracks by Maori and later traders and now us trampers. All I need to do is follow the markers.

Being completely on my own schedule and free to change plans, take a picture or get my breath back or just enjoy being out there is why I am walking Te Araroa.  Answerable only to myself.

I recall the wonderful feeling as a teenager of skiing on the lake, and snow skiing, landing 5kg rainbow and heavier brown trout as an adult.  It’s been a long time since I have experienced that adrenalin rush.  In planning and preparation for Te Araroa what is ahead dances with my mind. 

I watched the movie Woman at War, Woman At War – Official Trailer – YouTube , she trekked over Iceland mountains chasing her political rivals.  When I watched the movie, I recognised the freedom within me to run over the hills and express well considered views.  I’m not sure that I’m able to run nor do I have anything specifically to give voice too other than freedom. 

Find your happiness and
learn to put it first

I met Karllie YOLO SOLO | Facebook on Great Barrier Island last year and she is an inspiration for solo travellers.  Her stories of her own experience and those from her Maori heritage, especially those told of her 90 Mile Beach section of TA, were thrilling.  Sleeping out on the beach in the bush and campsites?  What freedom!

Freedom and discovery, remembering the path taken ahead of me. That’s why!

Me and my Shadow