63 days to walk 1350 km

12 March, 2020

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Looking tanned, happy and ridiculously fit, Edward is back at work after walking the South Island half of Te Araroa – New Zealand’s trail.

His journey started at Ship Cove in the Marlborough Sounds just after Christmas and he reached Bluff at the end of February. As a side trip, he was joined by his daughter at Te Anau and they walked the Kepler Track together.

Many trail walkers take on the challenge for a particular reason. Although there was nothing specific for Edward, he says sorting out his late parents affairs and selling the family farm had got him thinking.

“Tramping was something we used to do together and I thought it would be cool to do some more of that. And none of us are getting any younger.”

Discovering new parts of Aotearoa he knew nothing about, making friends with fellow walkers and staying in tramping huts were highlights. In a post from the trail he wrote, “The huts are a highlight. A leftover from socialist utopia New Zealand, full of history. A great thing about DOC huts is that the interiors are never refurbished so they keep their feeling.”

His photos feature beautiful native plants, views and new young Irish and Scottish walking friends – including meals and celebrations as they made it to another town.

“I liked the rhythm. You can be alone all day but you catch up with people at night.”

Crossing one of the many South Island rivers
Crossing one of the many South Island rivers

He had no major injuries but reported that overcoming blisters, strains, niggles and overall soreness needed constant attention. “One strain had to wait till I got reception and could consult Dr Google on how to strap it up, but that worked a treat!”

Overall the weather was excellent. “I did hit some heavy rain one day when I had a mission in mind – I’d decided to go 30 km, which is a long way. It turned out that I was really wet and really cold for quite a long time, then I had to put my tent up in the rain just before dark when I was exhausted. That was a pretty bad idea – I should have stopped in Twizel at a backpackers and waited it out.”

Edward is keen to explore more ‘through walking’ on long trails but is determined to check out lighter-weight gear. “I had a base weight of 10 kg and food on top, which wasn’t bad, but the lightweight people got that down to 7. Every kilo makes a real difference on long trips.”

Read more about Te Araroa.