Starting is the hardest part – the secret to starting

It was a two-hour drive to Cape Reinga for the start of #WalkNZ, my 3,000km solo walking adventure along the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

Dad drove. Mum sat up front. I took the backseat, staring out the window as a diverse landscape whizzed past the car windows.

Thoughts also whizzed through my head.

Thoughts that asked me what I was doing, what I hoped to prove. Thoughts that questioned my sanity, my physical and mental ability.

Thoughts that probed to the depths of my soul about whether I was really ready and good enough to take on this epic trail all by myself, with no experience and extremely limited training.

I was scared. Petrified of failing and doubting everything.

And then the what ifs started – what if I got caught by the high tide and I got stranded and couldn’t get to the campsite tonight? What if I got lost? What if I couldn’t put my tent up by myself or it blew away? What if there was no water supply at the campsite? What if I couldn’t get my camp stove to work? What if I’m totally out of my depth? What if, what if, what if… Continue reading

Life after the Te Araroa Trail: Re-entry into society and post-adventure blues

20190414_115546On the outside I look normal.

I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt – clothes I bought from a fashion, non-outdoors store. My body smells perfumed and clean; my hair, washed and shiny. Black pencil lines my eyes. There is red rouge on my cheeks.

My tan has faded while my muscles retreat behind a new cuddly layer of fat.

For all intents and purposes, I look like a regular run-of-the-mill person. Certainly not someone who has walked 2,000km of the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

But outside appearances can be deceiving.

Because inside me, long-distance trail walking oozes through my blood. My legs twitch. I dream of solitude and lonely mountains, the gurgling of streams, the feeling I get from walking uphill or busting out more than 4km an hour along a flat stretch of road.

The inside and outside are opposites of each other. I feel off kilter.

I’d been warned about “re-entry” to society after finishing the Te Araroa Trail. Like the rest of the trail, nothing can quite prepare you for it. Continue reading

Why pushing pause on #WalkNZ doesn’t make me a failure

20190309_095443Three weeks ago, I had to turn around and walk back into civilisation when poor weather conditions and a dodgy leg forced my hand and I couldn’t make it over the second highest point on the Te Araroa trail.

I ended up in Hanmer Springs, a spa resort town in the South Island of New Zealand, for a week, eating a lot of food (notably the spectacular cinnamon swirl buns from the local bakery) and visiting two local physios a total of three times about my bung leg.

The intention was always to get back on the trail.

But when a week rolled around and the leg was no better, it was clear I needed more time off. As it was, I couldn’t see how I could walk for eight to ten hours everyday on it on the trail when after a mere 15 minutes of strolling I was in pain and hobbling (and that was without the beast of my backpack on).

It posed something of a dilemma. Continue reading

Day 126 of #WalkNZ: Injury in the Nelson Lakes

20190307_080159It’s funny how long-distance walking undulates mentally as much as the mountains and hills that I hike along the Te Araroa trail.

Last week, I was ecstatic that I’d completed eight days in New Zealand wilderness in the demanding Richmond Ranges in the South Island.

This week, I have a dark cloud hanging over me after having to turn back and bail from the Nelson Lakes after poor weather and injury struck. Continue reading

The South Island of #WalkNZ begins: Introducing the Richmond Ranges

20190301_122929I’m alive!

I can’t quite believe it but I survived eight days in the remote New Zealand wilderness walking up and down a lot of steep, tall mountains through the Richmond Ranges.

This was classed as scary shit – the Richmond Ranges are dubbed the toughest section in the South Island on the Te Araroa trail.

Naturally, I was totally freaking out about them. Continue reading

Reflections on the North Island section of the Te Araroa Trail

20190213_130810-1Almost four months ago, I stood at the northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand.

The new pack on my back weighed just over 17kg. I carried five days worth of food and two litres of water; though anyone looking at me would have thought I was carrying the kitchen sink.

I stared at the point where the two oceans (the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean) met. Waves churned. According to Maori legend, the whirlpools where the currents collide represents the creation of life.

I thought that was apt.

Here I was about to start a 3,000km journey walking the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand. Anything could happen; people told me it would be life changing.

Last week, part one of the #WalkNZ journey was completed – I reached the bottom of the North Island. 101 days. 1,688km walked. Continue reading

Days 90-92 of #WalkNZ: The Tararua mountain range

20190203_085651I stood and stared at the squelchy pool of brown mud in front of me, a mixed look of disbelief and annoyance probably etched across my face.

“Really! I mean really,” I said out loud, to no one in particular. “Not more mud,” I moaned. #WalkNZ was quickly becoming #WalkMuddyNZ.

Here I was on the Tararua mountain range section of the 3,000km Te Araroa hiking trail down the length of New Zealand and yet again I was looking at a vast heap of wet, boot and soul-destroying mud.

“I’m in the fricken mountains,” I thought. “There’s not supposed to be any mud.”

I guessed this was another memo about the trail I had missed. Continue reading

Reaching the halfway point of #WalkNZ

20190201_091943It took me 89 days to walk 1,500km and reach the halfway point on the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

The spot itself wasn’t physically marked on the trail, but according to the GPS trail app it was at a quaint little point next to the pleasant Tokomaru River along Burtons Track in the Tararua mountain range. Continue reading