Volcano number 23: The private volcano

April 2020 was spent in a yellow motel room in the small tourist town Te Anau in New Zealand. That first Covid lockdown put paid to my #WalkNZ adventure – just seven days from the finish line in Bluff.

Once things opened up in New Zealand, and the rest of the world was still on pause, my partner Mark and I did a tiki tour of the North Island.

And I climbed volcano number 23 in my #40by40 challenge.

Mt Tarawera.   

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Days 66-70 of #WalkNZ part 2 – The Motatapu Track

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Calves screamed.

Lightening strips of pain burned up the back of my legs.

My lungs were in meltdown trying to support my muscles that sucked up the scant oxygen in my blood, while my heart seemed to be in its death throes as it attempted to keep up with the relentless uphill movement of my legs as I inched slowly closer to yet another mountain saddle.

Five mountains over 1000m high in three days. Classic Te Araroa.

And oh man, it hurt.

To say I underestimated the Motatapu Track is an understatement. Continue reading

Days 57-63 of #WalkNZ part 2 – Ahuriri River and the Breast Hill Track

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Sometimes the Te Araroa throws everything at you. 

Hot, cold, sun, rain, uphill, downhill, stunning views, monotonous boredom, walking like a machine, hobbling and in pain. Wet underpants.

That was this section.

Seven days. Demanding. Challenging.

Totally worth it.

But it didn’t start well.

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Days 45-55 of #WalkNZ part 2 – The Clent Hills, Two Thumbs Range & Te Araroa’s highest point

20200219_140531I have now walked just more than half of the South Island of New Zealand on part 2 of #WalkNZ. 

More than 650km.

Woozers!

That explains why the tread on my shoes is looking a little bald and why I’m now slightly obsessed with food.

The past 10 days have provided some of the best highlights of the trail – wild West country and the greatest sense of remoteness so far, super wild camping spots, the highest point on the Te Araroa trail, a stunning ridgeline walk with views to New Zealand’s tallest mountain Mt Cook, and a 55km bike ride. Continue reading

Days 38-43 of #WalkNZ part 2 – The Deception Track and the boyfriend’s rude introduction to Te Araroa

“So, what did you make of your first six days on the Te Araroa Trail?” I asked my boyfriend, who had newly flown in from the UK and was still suffering the after effects of jetlag. 

“Well, it’s not so much a trail, rather a route,” he mused.

“The terrain is much wilder than I anticipated and the landscapes are vast. It feels like there’s a sense of being the first people to walk here because the path is non-existent, the route marking is quite frankly at times invisible. It doesn’t feel like you’re on a well-defined trail that thousands of people have walked. This feels more remote. There is an enormous sense of space.”

He added: “Walking uphill and down hill isn’t the most demanding bit. It’s the bit where you have to plan ahead for the river crossings because of the weather, and even some of the shallower river crossings can still be dangerous. The road walking, with its hard surface, is draining and monotonous – it’s more a mental challenge than a physical challenge. On occasion you have to do a long day to move ahead of a weather system or to find water. Progress can be slow like when you’re boulder hopping, it requires a lot of balance, concentration and endurance. But I’m loving it. Except for those flippin sandflies.”

He scratched the hundreds of red spots dotting his calves where the blood-thirsty critters had taken a liking to him.

Yes it had been something of a rude introduction to the Te Araroa Trail.

Within a six-day time frame we’d condensed the main aspects of what the trail was all about – uphill, down hill, mountains, forests, the good, the bad and the ugly. Continue reading

Days 26-29 of #WalkNZ part 2 – River Crossings

20200201_105412I’m currently sitting in a warm and cosy backpackers in the tiny alpine village of Arthur’s Pass. 

Outside the wind is howling, angrily shaking trees and threatening to tear the roof off the backpackers while thick sheets of rain move down the road in waves.

Some 75mm of rain is forecast here today with wind gusts up to 100km per hour.

Further south and to the west, almost 500mm of rain has fallen, there are landslips, roads have been closed, rivers totally flooded, walkers evacuated from other trails. Continue reading

Day 8 – 15 of #WalkNZ part 2 – The Richmond Ranges

20200116_105034I can confirm that:

Deep Heat does not deter sandflies; mice seem to have the magic skills of getting into a closed backpack to eat my peanuts; I have a selective memory of how hard the uphills are in the Richmond Ranges; five days warm up walking the Queen Charlotte Track is not sufficient for taking on “proper” mountains; a trail outlined on a topo map does not mean it is a trail that has been used recently; I love ridgeline tracks.

I know I already walked the Richmond Ranges last season – the most demanding section of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand due to its 8-10 days between civilisation points and ridiculously high mountains and exceptionally steep and exposed descents – so technically I didn’t really need to walk it again.

But the first four days from Pelorus Bridge were so lovely last year that I really wanted to experience it all over again. Continue reading

Day 1-5 of #WalkNZ part 2 – Queen Charlotte Track

20200107_095640It was cold. It was grey. Where the hell was summer?

I shivered as I did some stretches before the official start of #WalkNZ part 2 began.

Here I was at the top of the South Island of New Zealand, and less than a year since I was last here ready to walk the Queen Charlotte Track through the Marlborough Sounds along the Te Araroa trail.

Back then it was the middle of February. That part of the country had been gripped by a six-week drought and a huge forest fire raged in a mountain range close by. Continue reading

Part 2 of #WalkNZ begins

And so, part 2 of #WalkNZ is about to begin.

I have just 1,000km left to walk to complete the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

After having to pull out 20km short of the 2,000km mark in March this year due to a knee injury, there was no question about not coming back to finish the trail.

It was unfinished business. It called to me. It was something I had to do. There was no way I was going to give up now after coming this far. Continue reading

Why perfection is a self-limiting belief and counter-productive for goals

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Twelve.

I had twelve fricken blisters. Twelve annoying, excruciatingly painful blisters; twelve little swollen mounds of encapsulated liquid intent on ruining my life.

I sighed, staring at them glumly.

The fact none had popped was beside the point. They were there on my feet, in places I didn’t know you could even get a blister.

And that one between my big toe and second toe, which stretched down and around onto the ball of my foot – on both feet, I might add – well that was the mother*****r of them all.

Nasty bloody blisters.

It was the end of week two on my #WalkNZ adventure where I was attempting to solo walk the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand to show that self-doubt doesn’t have to hold us back from achieving something incredible.

And I was in a world of pain. Continue reading