A love of Walking
I’ll be the first to admit I have not always enjoyed walking. From days walking under protest to school in Durban to my university days where I ensured my accommodation was always a stones throw away from the lecture halls, I treated walking as a necessary evil and something to be done where a more superior form of transport just did not present itself.
Things changed subtly when I met my partner and co-conspirator in our current plan to walk the length of New Zealand. Whereas before I was quite happy to jump on the Tube to go a couple of blocks, I swiftly discovered that points in London could be more efficiently joined by a nice walk through the myriad of parks and that Hampstead was not famous just for its wonderful pubs but had a pretty stunning Heath attached to it as well.
Walking as a pastime gathered momentum when we moved to Kathryn’s birthplace of Wellington in New Zealand. A city gifted with a stunning coastline and zany topography resulting in some wonderful inner city walks that take you through forested tracks in the Town Belt and dilapidated graveyards to cute seaside suburbs.
Having explored Wellington’s network of day walks for some time, our attention drifted to the rest of New Zealand and it wasn’t long before a multi-day walk was planned. Cue the wonder and pain that was the Heaphy Track in 1999. The pain was in humping a 15kg pack up a sustained gradient in the rain for the first time but this was quickly replaced by the exhausted joy of reaching the hut accommodation at the end of each day and hungrily devouring the simple fare cooked on our camp stoves in the evening.
Why walk Te Araroa?
Lao Tzu is credited with originating the saying ” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For each person who walks the TA, their reason for doing so will vary. Some will do it for the challenge, some will do it as a quirky and cost-effective way so see NZ and others will do it to come to terms with loss or to raise attention to a disease which led to the death of a loved one.
For me its all about the BHAG, corporate speak for a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. With the gear-stick of life wobbling in third and a natural career break already underway, I needed something that would challenge me not only physically but require a combination of resilience, good decision-making and humour to to ensure that we made it through each day happily. Above all I’m expecting the TA to challenge me in a way that jolts my current complacency and results in longer-term benefits about health and how I live my life in the future.
Other then spending a six-month period trekking through NZ with the love of my life and partner in crime in this magnificent adventure, naturally there will be other tangible benefits of walking which may include:
- Seeing and experiencing lots of different regions of Aotearoa and meeting some of the people.
- Sharing war stories with other walkers on the TA and enjoying their company for parts of the walk.
- Walking on the beach for four days at 90 Mile Beach
- Enjoying hamburgers and craft beers in copious quantities, whenever I can get my hands on them.
Undoubtedly, other highlights will become clearer to us as we walk and experience the TA. Right now we have a little over a month left until we set off from Cape Reinga and there is so much still left to do!