Ok, so it’s only half a country (some would say the better half…), but I’m including it anyway! Hopefully one day I’ll get to the other bit…
In 1996 I did a traverse of the Southern Alps in the South Island of New Zealand, north to south, taking 111 days. For some of it we followed the route of the future Te Araroa trail, but mostly we stayed a bit further west in the main Alps.
We had to be self-sufficient, although there were a couple of townships we came to and a couple of times family came to road-ends to resupply us. A tough trip, but an incredible opportunity to live in the wilderness and see changes in landscape and climate.
I was inspired to do this trip when at 9 years old I read a book from my grandparents bookshelf about a pair that did this trip (Graeme Dingle and Jill Tremain; Two Against The Alps). I have inherited that very same book and it now sits on my own bookshelf.
I learnt a lot on this trip, but also it was a culmination of all the time I had spent in the wilderness, of all I had learnt. It also marked a turning point in my life away from the wilderness and towards applying my learnings to different areas. I fear that along the way I lost some of those learnings.
“What a privilege to know the profound peace and stillness of the land.”
-Jill Tremain (who traversed the South Island of New Zealand)
“How well does your experience of the sacred in nature enable you to cope more effectively with the problems of mankind when you come back to the city?”
– Willi Unsoeld (Everest climber)
Te Araroa Trail (A trail that runs the length of New Zealand. Includes trail stories).