When you think about it, it’s quite an unusual idea to even remotely consider hiking the entirety of New Zealand. Even mentioning the prospect to people makes some wide eyed with disbelief. Although that’s not to say that I have not had the opposite response of amazement and interest in my decision. Taking a thru hike is no easy decision either. You have to essentially put your life on hold, leave your friends and family, remove yourself from the cushy means of Netflix and self indulgence and immerse yourself in the uncertainty of tramping unknown tracks throughout New Zealand.
When making the final decision on whether or not I should undertake the 140 day or so challenge I felt a sense of uplift. I sense of pure joy washed over me when coming to terms that this ‘will’ happen. Coming from 4 years of tertiary study and 13 years of public schooling before that, I can safely say that undertaking Te Araroa will be a breath of fresh air. Having tackled day and thru hikes previously, there really isn’t anything I can compare to hiking. The search for that next amazing view really is obsessive to say the least, compelling me to continue on through various off-tracks. The temporary removal of the sometimes overwhelming confines of stressful city life. The sense that you are the master of your judgement when it comes to tackling the wild. There really isn’t much like it.
The Long Pathway or Te Araroa is New Zealand’s longest thru hike spanning a distance of 3000km taking in spectacular New Zealand landscapes from beaches to volcanoes to forests to cities. Beginning in Cape Reinga and finishing in Bluff, Te Araroa provides the opportunity to undertake hikes that may span only a few hours to multiple days within the wilderness away from civilization.
I haven’t felt more physically fit in my life, having lost around 15kgs since last year. I will walk on beaches, through forests, over mountains, through endless tussocks, down river valleys, and through bogs. But I will also spend plenty of time walking on roads, and through towns and cities. It’s clear that I need to be mentally prepared for this trip as well. I can only imagine myself asking why I am putting myself through this when the weather is not going my way and I’m feeling miserable. It’s the end goal in mind that really differentiates those who fail and those who succeed. There will be bad days, good days and great days, this is a given when considering hiking.
It’s no wonder that the motivation for this walk stems from a passion for hiking. However, this walk is dedicated to my sister Kali Eva Palmer who suddenly passed away from SIDS on the 17th of May 1996, aged only 28 days. Even though I never knew my sister, I always think about her, and who she could have been. All money raised during my North to South journey will go directly to SIDS and Kids through my Everyday Hero page here and will directly support the “Moe Ora” program. This program gifts bassinettes, cots and beds along with sheets, blankets and Safe Sleeping resources to families in our communities. They have just given out their last bassinette, so they need our help. Please support the Moe Ora program and ensure that it is there for all families who need their support.
I have chosen SIDS and Kids as my charity to support as they receive no government funding and I would like to raise awareness as well as funds to held reduce the number of infant deaths in our community and to provide support to those who have lost a loved one. Therefore, I am looking for sponsors to help cover the costs involved in my walk, in exchange for some good publicity for the sponsors (my pack cover will name all sponsors, their brand will go on all pages of my website and make their way through social media once I begin my promotion) so there will be a fair amount of feel good factor for anyone involved as well.
I say thanks to Geoff Chapple who made this a reality having originally pushed for the idea of a thru hike of New Zealand since 1997. The regional and local councils that aided in appropriating the land for the trail. The Department of Conversation efforts to keep our trails and huts well maintained throughout the two islands season round. And the necessary funds from the ASB Community Trust, Helen Clark’s Labour Government and the current government. And finally, the Te Araroa trust for providing an amazing website with a huge amount of imformation including trail notes and maps here.