#WalkNZ – Finally reached Bluff

I’ve done it!

I’ve finally reached Bluff, the southern most point and finish of the 3,000km (1,864mile) Te Araroa Trail down the length of New Zealand.

This was the final six days of the trail (plus one rest day) that I had left to complete after Covid lockdown put an end to the walk in 2020 – just six days from Bluff.

You can imagine the frustration.

So, it was huge to come back to New Zealand to finish what I had set out to do.

It was a particularly hard last six days from where we picked up the trail – and it didn’t help that we hadn’t done any decent training.

There was a [insert swear word here] steep hill to climb on the first day which damn near killed us. It was probably just lack of training but I’m sure it was one of the worst hills I’d climbed on this trail. My heart was beating so hard I actually started to feel sick.

Then there was two days through a muddy forest – and if you know me, you know how much I hate a muddy forest.

You’d have thought that might be the end of the hard yards once we arrived in Colac Bay and met the sea for the first time since the top of the South Island. No more mountains, just flat beach and road walking.

Ha! Never take the Te Araroa Trail for granted.

One day consisted of beach walking over pebbles, the next (the penultimate day) was 32km of sandy beach and then road walking and finally the last day was a 34km slog (over 20 miles) mainly along State Highway 1 into Bluff.

And none of this was helped by the huge blister I had under my toe.

As we neared the signpost that heralds the finish at Stirling Point, my fiance Mark and I walked hand in hand.

We were tired, our legs felt broken but the joy at seeing that signpost! I admit it, I cried.

It’s taken more than four years and three attempts to get here. First I injured my knee and had to push pause. Then covid struck.

I’ve dealt with pain and hardship, self-doubt, comparing myself to others, failure, almost drowning, a lot of guilt and shame and way too much mud.

During that time I broke my heart and lost myself but I also fell in love, discovered an inner strength, resilience and courage I didn’t realise I had, and I found a sense of purpose and identity and reconnected with the awesomeness that’s in me.

When I first set out everyone said walking the TA would be life changing.

It was. And in ways I never imagined.

I’ve learnt things about the world and about myself. I’ve grown. And I love myself more.

These are things that will now never be taken away from.

I know that I am stronger, more capable, more resilient and more awesome than I ever gave myself credit for.

I know that I can achieve my dreams if I never give up.

And I know that I am enough – not because I walked 3,000km down New Zealand but just because I am me.

The next adventure is editing the book I’ve written on this transformative journey. In the meantime, if you need a motivational speaker or a wellbeing workshop for your team then please get in touch. I now write and talk about self-doubt, self-worth, failure, inner strength and courage, taking learnings from my adventures and experience, and busting the myths around them to help other people believe in themselves so that they can be the people they want to be and achieve their dreams.

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