Saturday, September 17, 2016

Warren snuggled up in a light sleeping bag

Getting ready for the TA

 17th September 2016

Two weeks to go and work is finished for six months and will be heading off to start our trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff. This is the exciting and scary bit!

We started thinking about this crazy walk early in 2015 but at that stage we were not certain we could do it.   With my back injury still playing up and not having had any overnight camping experience I was a little cautious. We both enjoy the camper van life style and biking so why did we even think about a 3000km walk?   I think the idea grew on us. We regularly need a challenge and the time was ripe. The trail requires a pretty good level of fitness and stamina and so we thought we better do it while we are still young and fit. :-). Also, it's a fabulous NZ long distance trail that provides an opportunity to see NZ as we have not seen it before so why not?

Over a year ago when we started planning this trek we had four categories that we had to achieve and  they were:

We estimated that the journey would take about five months and so just before Christmas last year I approached my boss and applied for a six month period of leave from work. Lucky for me he agreed and so we planned to do this walk from the beginning of October 2016 until the end of March 2017. Add to that two weeks of annual leave that I will be due and that takes my start date back at work through to mid April 2017. So that's the time taken care of.

It's a bit of an exercise figuring out how much it would cost to do something like this. We've not done any long distance hiking and we thought at the start that since we already had packs, tent, sleeping bags etc then we were half way there. Wrong. It didn't take long to realise that the gear we had wasn't going to be suitable and so not only did we need to finance replacement of everything we thought we had, and to buy those things we hadn't realised we needed, we also needed enough coin put away to live off. Hopefully we have achieved that. Only time will tell.

Well the gear we had was not suitable. The packs we had bought about 20 years ago were old, heavy, mouldy and coming apart so to the dumpster they went. Our tent was too heavy as were the sleeping bags. We had never had to carry them further than from the car before. We decided that we needed to go for lightweight quality gear if we were to carry it the whole way and for it to last the distance so over the last year our shopping has been mostly from shops like Kathmandu, Macpac, Bivouac and Hunting & Fishing.  As a means of checking out the gear and doing some overnight camping we started doing weekend trips into the Waitawheta Valley and we also headed south in March 2016 and walked the Heaphy Track. Only my boots failed with blisters forming under the toenails on days 4 and 5.  The roof of the right boot had delaminated and so they also ended up in the dumpster when we got home. We bought a new camera as we decided the SLR's we have are also big and heavy. We bought a Canon SX50 being a smaller lighter camera but with a 50x zoom for those amazing shots that we will be finding. Of course we will also take the GoPro.

Starting during the winter of 2015 I started walking to work to strengthen my back. The Heaphy track tested that and although I found the pack a bit heavy it was manageable. We felt after the Heaphy that if we managed to maintain our fitness level then that would be a good starting level for the TA so over the next 6 months we walked, carried loaded day packs, cycled, exercycled, climbed the Mount and went to the gym. At this stage we are feeling good to go. Again time will tell.

Right from the start we wondered just how to give ourselves the greatest chance of succeeding. There were, and possibly still are, those who think we are mad even attempting such a feat at our ages.  Well, there are two special people who not only thought we were mad but believed that we could be successful. Kath and Peter decided that they would be our support team and follow our journey in their camper van.  They will be our transport around harbours and rivers, carry the gear we don't need for any particular section, be our supply ship and kick our butts when we get grizzly and just want to go home. We think they have significantly increased our chance of getting that final photo at Bluff.

 2 weeks and we're on our way. . . . . !!!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Next steps...

It's almost two years again and the blog has been parked up for a while. The motivation for the last entries came from the completion of a couple of books and as an update, there was a fourth. This one was about the trucking in USA and took considerably more time and effort to produce. However, once again it was really satisfying to have it completed and shelved with the others. To read on a rainy day perhaps.

Time passes quickly when you stop taking notice and for the last two years we've been occupied with heading away either cycling or hiking somewhere within weekend distance of Tauranga. We upgraded our camper van last year and 'Fries', our Mitsubishi Fuso camper has made it so much easier to head away, sometimes on a Friday evening and sometimes early Saturday.  The cycling, although still very enjoyable, took a bit of a dive after a couple of injuries and as a result we started to spend more time in walking boots.  Needless to say, the appeal of the bush trails, particularly around the Kaimai Ranges has sparked an interest in seeing more of NZ by foot.  Earlier this year we walked the Heaphy track taking 5 days and making good use of the wonderful DOC huts along the way. Despite being a bit foot sore by the end of the trail we were still keen to pursue an idea that had been hatching for the last year and that is to tackle the Te Araroa trail, a continuous 3000 km walking trail and the ultimate 5 month NZ great walk.

You must be mad, some say. Maybe they are right but our current plan, based on plenty of consideration and planning, is to complete the Te Araroa trail this summer coming. I have been lucky enough to get 6 months leave without pay (they wouldn't pay me to go) and we will start 'the long walk' in early October from Cape Reinga with the goal of finishing in Bluff in March 2017.
My thoughts are to keep a Facebook page and I'm not sure about using this blog also to record the trip but will listen to any feedback.

We have the added advantage of friends Kath and Peter keeping within close proximity to us in their camper van while we are walking so we expect that they will be able to meet up with us periodically, listen to our grizzles and send son our way again. Having them handy will help where there are harbour and river crossings as they will hopefully give us a ride and we also think that we will cycle some of the road sections.

With less than 100 days to go the excitement grows and so watch this space or Facebook to hear how we get along.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

And a third......

We are on a bit of a roll with these books and so making hay while we have the time. Once I get back to work full time, which should be within the next few weeks, I'm sure the progress will slow down.
This one is about the time we spent in Australia driving road trains.

Monday, September 15, 2014

And a second book.....

This one is a photo book of the Alcoba Street, Kamo property we owned starting with what it looked like when we went to look at it with the agent, to moving in and pictures of the changes we made and the fun we had there. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wet days and bad back = a book

Well a number of wet days and a back that still prefers to be rested has resulted in us spending some time and putting together a small book of memoirs from our 1996 South Pacific cruise onboard Scot Free. Click the link below to check it out. We did it to see what it comes up like as there are potentially more stories to follow. The link does go to an ebook store (but it's free) and we have been able to download the book to ibooks to read.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Coromandel weekend

We spent last weekend revisiting some favourite spots on the Coromandel Peninsular and also discovering places that we had not been to before. We left Tauranga on Friday and spent our first night at the Wentworth Valley DOC camp, a place we have been to before. Its lovely and quiet, tucked up at the end of the valley amongst the bush and we were there on our own.  On Saturday we headed north through Hikuai, Pauanui and Tairua then Hahei and Hot Water Beach before stopping for the night in a motor camp in Whitianga. Sunday we checked out Matapouri and Whangapoua then headed over the hill to Coromandel where we stopped for lunch and a quiet time in the sun at Te Kouma harbour. The spot where we both previously kept our boats moored and had many wonderful memories of weekends there with Carey and Fausett families. We stopped the night in Coromandel after buying delicious smoked mussels and scollops from Bronwyn at Coromandel Smokehouse. We called in to see Rolly and Jeanette on our way through Te Puru on Monday but missed Rolly as he was out fishing.
Literally a fantastic trip, beautiful scenery, wonderful weather and Mervan (our camper) went really well.  The photos above are in order - leaving the DOC camp in the Wentworth Valley, fishermen at Tairua, Hahei beach x2, Whitianga.