Sunday, 27 April 2014
Why am I doing this?
So I guess the key question most people are asking is “Why am I doing this?”
While I would like to say ‘just because I want to”, I realise this is not enough of an explanation of why I want to voluntarily leave a good job, with stable income, to inflict pain on myself for 4 1/2 months of walking 3,000 km of rough jungle, long beaches, mountains and gorse infested farmland. So here are a few of my reasons.
I remember when I was young my parents took me on a tramp (for non Kiwis see the Glossary Page). This tramp was over farmland and bush and we were following these posts that had orange markers with a white “W” which stood for walkway. I remember thinking it would be great if this walkway system covered the whole length of New Zealand.
Luckily someone else had this idea too and he drove the process of getting Government approval and then seeking permission from the multiple landowners throughout New Zealand. This man was Geoff Chapple. Geoff and the many keen volunteers in the Te Araroa Trust have done some amazing work to make the Te Araroa Trail a reality.
I heard about the Te Araroa Trust’s efforts with the Te Araroa Trail in 2010 and started to think about how I could do the trail. In 2011 when the trail officially opened I did some preliminary planning but then I was advised that I was deploying to Afghanistan (I was an Officer in the New Zealand Army). I decided to postpone doing the trail until after I left the Army when I planned to take a long break before starting a new career. However when I eventually left the Army in January 2013 I did not want to have a lot of time on my hands so soon after my challenging deployment in Afghanistan. So rather than taking a break straight away I decided to postpone this and I took an opportunity to join the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). I am now ready for that break.
I have spent my entire career always being responsible for someone and for a short while I want some time where I can be selfish and not have to think about anyone else. The thought of 4 1/2 months of only looking after myself sounds relaxing, walking aside.
The final reason is that I love a good challenge. I have a short attention span and need to be constantly looking for the next big adventure, whether it be at work or in my personal life. Now that I am established in a new career it is time for a personal challenge to look forward to. I think walking the length of New Zealand will be a big enough challenge to satisfy me for a while.
Thankfully things have now fallen into place for me to attempt the Te Araroa Trail in 2014. I summoned the courage to tell my work that I would like to take 5 months off from 1 Nov to 31 March and luckily they were supportive and the timing worked well with my current role in Democratic Republic of Congo. That was the hard bit, making the decision and getting the time off. Now I have the fun of planning to make this a reality.
I intend to walk south (SOBO) from Cape Reinga to Bluff starting in early November 2014
Monday, 5 May 2014
Let the Planning Begin
I think planning is a big part of the enjoyment of an adventure. The trick is to plan enough to ensure you enjoy the adventure without doing too much to completely take away the discovery of new experiences.
Luckily, I think it will hard to plan in too much detail to prevent surprises over 4 ½ months so I am happy to do a lot of research. My sources are:
- The Te Araroa official site http://www.teararoa.org.nz/. Luckily this is an excellent resource with free detailed maps of the route in the standard 1:50 000 NZ Topo Map, Trail Notes, track updates and links to blogs from people who have already done the trail.
- The Te Araroa facebook pages. There is a general page – Te Araroa and a page specifically for those doing the TA this season Te Araroa 2014-15. Both pages are excellent places to ask questions and connect with others who have done, or are about to do, the TA.
- Blogs. I really enjoy reading about how other people have found the TA. I am also reading blogs about people who have done the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, all long distance trails in the USA. I especially enjoy the blogs that do more than just say where people went, I love reading about the challenges and highlights they encounter and about the other people they meet.
So far most of my research has been related to gear. I have been the typical Kiwi tramper hiking with a good quality canvas backpack and standard gear, usually meaning a base pack weight (the weight of everything less fuel, food and water) of around 15 kg. This means on a 10 day tramp I am carrying around 25kg at the start. While my backpack is very comfortable, and I am used to heavy loads from the Army, it does distract for the first few days as the weight of the straps on my shoulders become my sole focus rather than the stunning scenery around me.
For TA I have decided to aim for a base pack weight of no more than 10 kg though I am secretly hoping to get this to 9 kg. My current list (see my page ‘Gear’ is slightly over 9kg but that is with me guessing the weight of many things. I will have to wait until I get back to NZ in late October to be able to confirm the weight of many things.
The key area I am aware I am going over normal lite hiking standards will be my pack. I am planning to use an Aarn Featherlite Freedom which is heavier than most ultralite packs. For me comfort and load stability is worth a little extra weight, especially as I have had some back troubles over the last few years, and have not been doing any tramping for the last two years. However I did read in their 2013 brochure that they may possibly be able to make this pack in Cuben Fibre which would drop the weight more to what I would prefer. I will need to contact Aarn to find out if this is true and what the new weight will be.
For the remainder of my gear I am fairly certain what I will be purchasing but unfortunately I will not have the luxury of being able to test much of it due to my late arrival back home. I cannot get mail sent here to Democratic Republic of Congo to test the new gear as mail usually goes missing once it arrives in the country, most likely stolen. I have tried 2 packages to be couriered here but neither one made it so I am not going to risk expensive gear being stolen. Also there are few places I can go tramping here that are safe so I would be limited in testing anyway.
I have made my gear decisions based on internet research with heavy emphasis on reviews of the equipment, especially by Thru Hikers. However I will have backups that I can get my support crew to send to me if I have a gear failure, it is just they are not as light as what I will be buying over the next few months.
I have been living very simply since I arrived in DR Congo so I have the luxury of being able to purchase top quality super light gear which I hope will make up for my advancing years and poor hiking condition.
Please review my gear list and let me know if you think I have missed some better alternatives.
I have downloaded all of the trail maps from the Te Araroa website and have made an estimation of where I may be spending the nights and consequently how long I will take (see Map Page for full plan). I plan to take it very easy for the first couple of weeks and take many rest days to let my body adjust before picking up the speed and mileages. I am usually a fast tramper but will have to be disciplined to take my time at the start. I do have the advantage in my planning of being aware of NZ conditions and the likely speeds in the different terrain. In thick bush (jungle)with poor tracks I will only be walking 1.5 km/hour, in normal bush and untracked tussock that will be 3 km/hr, in Beech forest and tracked high country that speed will pick up to 4km/hr and on roads 5-6 km/hr. For overseas trampers be aware you will not go as fast on most NZ tracks as you are used to, they do not compare to the nice maintained trails like Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. Also Kiwi track builders like to be direct, therefore if there is a hill in the way you will go over it – straight over it, we haven’t heard of switchbacks!
I plan to take a zero (day with no tramping) on average every 8-10 days except at the start where I will build up from 4 days.
By my calculations the trail will take me 133 days (I will try and upload my Google Maps File for my planning on my location page).
However I know no plan survives H Hour (military term for start of an operation) so I am prepared to listen to my body and change distances and speed as needed. I have a full 5 months off work so I have plenty of time.
Zero days I will spend at backpackers or camping grounds and occasionally pamper my self with a motel room. For the rest of the time it will be in a tent or Hut. NZ has a great Hut system but you don’t hit the first one until after Hamilton and it is not until the Tararua Ranges and South Island that they are frequent.
Normally when I go tramping I take Backcountry Cuisine Freeze Dry meals. They are simple to prepare, light and most of the meals taste good. I did find in my Stewart Island Tramp that by the 5th day the meals were not enough and I was always hungry. Also they are not cheap.
I have decided to do a mixture of Freeze Dry meals and supermarket meals with pasta, couscous or Potato Flake bases. For the longer legs I will have more Freeze Dry but the shorter legs will be normal meals. My aim is to keep food intake to around 20,000 KJ per day and the weight to under 1kg per day. I know many people can do it on lighter weight but I like my food and hate being hungry. I will also be calorie loading whenever I pass through towns, mainly on Meat Pies (NZ staple food) and flavoured milk). My food plan is in the Food Page.
Sunday, 22 June 2014
Let the Shopping Begin
Well I have held off as long as I could but have now succumbed and have started purchasing my new gear for the walk. I have convinced myself that I need to start buying now just in case things take a while to get delivered all the way to NZ – yes that is a weak excuse when I am 4 months out but it works for me.
While I already have a good range of Tramping equipment it is mainly the traditional indestructible kit – meaning heavy (base weight of around 15kg). As I would like to enjoy the TA I aim to carry as little as possible and have a 7-8kg base weight.
The unfortunate thing is that even though I have ordered the things now I will not be able to play with my new toys until October when I return home from DR Congo where I am living. Luckily my ever supportive parents have agreed to check everything as it arrives and store it until I get back home.
I am a little worried about the fit of some of the things, in particular the Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket but I have an alternate if there is an issue, it is just much heavier.
I had some issues with some of the things I wanted not able to be shipped direct to NZ, due to licencing reasons I think. The cost of outdoor equipment in NZ is significantly more than what you pay in USA or Europe. While I would love to buy NZ made there is not much ultralight weight gear available in NZ, or it is very expensive. I have decided to buy my bigger items, and the lightweight items from USA and have it shipped to NZ using the wonderful NZ Post You Shop. NZ Post give you a USA address to ship items to and then they forward it to you in NZ. This gets around the licencing issues. If the NZ Distributers were adding a reasonable mark-up I would not do this but I think the mark-ups they charge are unreasonable.
From ZPacks (www.zpacks.com)I have ordered a Hexamid SolplexTent, Down Sleeping Bag (-7 degree Celsius 900 fill, 5.9″ water repellent down), Rain jacket, Rain Pants, Rain Mitts and Arc Blast 60 litre Pack with some extra functions like hip pockets and trekking pole loops. I also ordered some cuben fibre repair tape, spectra cord, Velcro, pertex repair tape, titanium pot, Sawyer Mini Water Filtration and some Cuben Fibre Drybags and towels.
I was intending to go with an Aarn Natural Balance Pack but even though I like the concept the weight is putting me off. The comparison of 1.86g of the natural balance vs the 560g of the ZPack Arc Blast 60 litre with all the add-ons. Therefore I have gone with the ZPack. If I don’t like it at least Aarn is a NZ company so I could switch easily. I do plan to carry waterbottles on my front shoulder straps and may look at a way to transfer the weight from my shoulders to the hip belt which may offset some of the weight at the back.
From Dirty Girl (www.dirtygirlgaiters.com) I have ordered 2 pairs of gaiters in hydrate blue customised as apparently I have fat ankles for my shoe size. I got 2 pairs as I tend to scuff my ankles when I walk so I anticipate wearing through one after 1500km or so.
From Amazon I have ordered a Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket (mens to ensure I have enough room in the shoulders), Titanium spoon and 450ml cup, MSR Micro Rocket Gas Cooker, Freshette (to wee standing up or in my tent when it is raining and I don’t want to go outside), Thermarest Neo Xlite Womens Sleep Pad.
From QiWiz Ultralight (http://www.qiwiz.net/trowels.html) I have orders the original titanium trowel and a titanium wind break.
From Outdoor Supplies http://www.outdoorsupplies.co.nz/ in NZ I have ordered Platypus Water Bottles (2 x 500ml, 2 x 1 litre, 1 x 2 litre).
With the new gear decisions I am looking at max 8005 g (17.6 lb) or if I am really disciplined possibly 7096 g (15.6 lb). Unfortunately until I get home and put my kit together in October I am not going to know my weight for sure.
I am also still tossing up between gas stove and coke can alcohol stove. I will do some experimenting when I get home to decide.
The remainder of the gear I will get in NZ. I plan to stopover in Christchurch before landing in Dunedin to hit the outdoor shops there as I know where they all are and they have a good range. This will be for shoes and clothes mainly as I definitely want to try on before buying given my non standard feet and body shape.
At this stage I expect to spend around 10 days at home before starting the trail around 1 November.
On a recent holiday I did some hiking around Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa and it really made me keen to get started on Te Araroa Trail. I loved being able to tramp again, even if it was only for 5 hours. I didn’t realise how much I miss the freedom to just go for a tramp in the weekend or take a few days of work to head into the hills. Unfortunately in Kinshasa, DR Congo, I am not allowed to walk anywhere for security reasons except one 2 km circuit in a secure area where all the embassy’s are. It gets boring really quickly!
Only 4 months until I leave DR Congo and 4 1/2 months until I start the trail. I have not quite got to the countdown by day but am not far off it!
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
2 Months and Counting
Less than 2 months to go and I have done as much as I can from Congo. Most of my international orders have arrived in New Zealand and my parents are looking after them for me. I am just waiting on the last of the ZPacks orders which should arrive any day now. It is a little frustrating knowing I have lots of new equipment to play with but I have to wait until October when I go back to New Zealand.
When the new track notes are released on 8 September I will work on compressing them and paste onto the maps ready for printing.
Ideally I should now be focusing on trying to get fit but unfortunately that is going to be difficult given restrictions where I live. Due to security restrictions in Kinshasa there is only one 2km loop that I can walk on which is really boring. On 1 Oct I move to a new city called Goma on the other side of DR Congo which has even stricter restrictions and I will not be able to walk at all. There is the possibility to cross the boarder into Rwanda and walk there but that will take a lot of organising.
My flights are booked to leave DR Congo the night of 17 October. I have to cross the border into Rwanda and drive for 3 hours to the airport to fly out at 1 in the morning. I change planes in Nairobi, Johannesburg and Sydney to land in Christchurch at 11.50pm on 19 October. I will go shopping for the last of my outdoor supplies in Christchurch on 20 October and fly that evening to Dunedin where my preparations can begin.
First thing is seeing a Podiatrist to get some new Orthotics to make sure my leg alignment is sorted for the walk. I have fallen arches so this will be important to prevent injuries.
I plan to do some experiments with gas and alcohol to work out which one I will take. I will do precise weights of all my equipment and make some decisions on what to take, or not. These decisions will be tested on an overnight tramp. I will then spend a couple of days fixing anything that went wrong, preparing my resupply and bounce box and printing my maps. I will then go for another test tramp for final confirmation of what I will be taking. A couple of days after that on 28 October (subject to change if needed) I fly to Kaitaia and start walking on 29 October. So exciting thinking about it now.
57 days, 19 hours and 4 minutes until starting!
Sunday, 5 October 2014
Less than a month to go
Wow there is now less than a month to go and more importantly only 13 days until I start my journey back to New Zealand. I am really looking forward to being able to do some hands on preparation for my tramp.
I have managed to fill in my time by working on combining the maps, trail notes and resupply notes into one document. I figure it will make navigation much easier not having to switch between the map and the trail notes, some of which do not match exactly on first reading which could lead to confusion when I am exhausted and not thinking straight at the end of a long day. This has been a fun way to really get to know the trail and help with some of the logistical preparation. More importantly it has given me something to help ease the frustration of having to wait to get started. I have posted all of these on http://tawiki.org/wiki/navigation.
Example of combined maps and comments
This frustration is even more apparent now we have people on the trail. Every morning I eagerly check facebook to see what the TA Trampers have been up to. Unfortunately not many people walking now are doing a blog so there is not a lot of information but that is starting to change and some of the more active people on social media will be starting soon. Of the trampers out there I particularly like the blog from Glen and Sherren glenandsherren.blogspot.co.nz which is a good mix of information about the trail and how they are finding their experience.
There has also been some excellent work to help with compressed trail notes, reformatted maps and GPS files. Check out facebook Te Araroa and Te Aroa 2014-15 groups which have some great information. A special thanks to Judith Hubert who is doing some great work getting information out to this years trampers, Ken and Rob from the Te Araroa Trust for the great Maps and Trail Notes and Jorg Flugge and Joe Delphine for compressing these trail notes.
As for my physical training that is a short paragraph as there has been none for a variety of legitimate reasons as well as a bit of laziness. I just do not feel like doing the same 2km circuit over and over again which is all I am allowed to walk/run in Kinshasa for security reasons. I am going to have to take it really slowly for the first couple of weeks to compensate for the lack of training. One area of physical preparation I am doing well in is creating a weight buffer. It is well known that weight loss is an issue on long distance tramping so I have used this as an explanation for why I have gained weight recently and most people seem to be buying it!
On another front I have been really surprised by the number of people reading this blog. It is now over the 1000 mark so thank you all for your interest. I think this is a great indication of the number of people getting interested in the Te Araroa Trail which is great. I hope more people take the oppourtunity to challenge themselves and see some of this amazing country.
My next post will be from Dunedin, New Zealand around 22 October. It will be nice to be home, and especially nice to be out of a country where there is an Ebola outbreak, though thankfully contained a lot better than in West Africa. Tramping 3,000km freaks me out a lot less than the thought of getting a disease with a 50% survival rate. I am definitely counting the days until I fly home.
Saturday, 25 October 2014
Back Home and Gear Sorted
After more than 48 hours I made it home to New Zealand. I left DR Congo mid-afternoon on Friday and arrived into Christchurch, NZ just after midnight on Sunday night (technically Monday morning).
The first part of the journey was crossing the border from DR Congo into Rwanda and then a 4 hour drive to Kigali Airport. While I have been in Africa for a while and am used to the amount of people I was amazed at the number of people on the roads. During daylight there was a maximum of 5 seconds without seeing someone walking on the road. There was a continuous stream of all ages walking, pushing carts, cycling with massive loads or just standing on the road. Interestingly my driver would not slow down for any of the people but the minute he saw a goat immediately he slowed down and gave them room. I am assuming there must be a bigger pay-out for a damaged goat than for a person. He also slowed down for the numerous Police checkpoints and we were only stopped twice. I was pleasantly surprised that both times there was just a warning and no bribe needed to clear the checkpoint. When it got dark 2 hours after we started I was expecting the number of people to reduce and they did marginally. It was now a maximum of 15 seconds of empty road before seeing someone.
Tea Plantation in Rwanda People Everywhere, Rwanda
Once at the airport I was refused entry into the terminal building for check in. They would only open the building when a flight was 3 hours from take-off. Unfortunately due to the DR Congo Border closing at 5pm I had to cross early meaning I had 3 hours to fill. Luckily there was a cafe within walking distance and I had a fantastic coffee, something I had been desperately missing in Goma.
From there the journey to Johannesburg, via Burundi for 30 minutes and Nairobi for 2 hours was fine. Unfortunately my bag did not appear in Johannesburg but before I had time to panic the Kenya Airlines staff approached me and told me my bag was on the next plane arriving in 2 1/2 hours. As my flight wasn’t for another 6 hours there was plenty of time. My bag arrived on time and I still had to wait an hour before I was able to check in. The rest of the journey, via Sydney, was smooth and I touched down in Christchurch just after midnight on Sunday. I had made the decision to spend the day shopping there as I knew where all the outdoor shops are. Monday was a good day drooling over gear in the Outdoor Shops. Somehow I managed to maintain my discipline and only buy the gear on my list, though I was severely tempted by some new technology. As I achieved my aims early I switched my flight for an earlier one and got into Dunedin at 5pm. From there my Parents drove me home and I was reunited with my gear which they had been storing for me.
It was great to finally see all of the gear I had ordered but never got to play with. I didn’t last long catching up with my parents before cracking and playing with the gear.
The next day I headed into Dunedin for final shopping and an appointment with a Podiatrist to get new Orthotics. He proceeded to tell me all about my many biomechanical issues which did not inspire confidence at the start of a 3000km walk. Luckily I am well practiced at ignoring things I don’t like to hear so I disregarded all the potential issues and left happy with my new orthotics and some exercises to do to try and fix some of my issues.
The next few days were spend sorting out my gear and weighing everything. Unfortunately to my horror the first time I put my pack on my back with about 10kg in it the strap broke. I was in shock thinking in 5 days I was starting my walk and now I would have to find a new pack. On closer examination I saw the strap had not been fully folded under before being sewn so only had one thin layer of stitching. The other strap seemed fine. After firing an email to ZPacks explaining the issue I started the repair. Luckily my mum has waterproof cord which was ideal for the repair so for the next 20 minutes I sewed the strap back on and thankfully it looks pretty solid. A 1 hour full dress rehearsal walk gave confidence that the repair would hold. ZPacks apologised and gave $25 towards sewing costs and said they would replace the straps at the end of my walk when I had time to send the pack to them (at their cost).
I got my maps printed onto waterproof, tearproof paper and was really happy with the speed they were done, the quality and the price. I think having the trail notes and resupply notes on the maps themselves will make navigation much easier. If anyone wants copies of this format I have downloaded them onto the Facebook Te Araroa 2014-15 Files page and also on www.tawiki/wiki/navigation.
I used some precision digital scales to weigh all of my kit and it was exciting seeing my estimated weights being slashed. I did some slashing of my own to reduce weights such as reducing the size of my sleeping bag liner and cutting off the handle of my toothbrush. I also modified some fluffy slippers (by removing all of the fluffy parts) and adding a velcro strap to make some fantastic and super light camp shoes.
And the final result of the weigh in ….. (drumroll) ……. 6955g (15.33 lb). Fantastic I managed to get under the 7kg mark. While this is not Ultralight it is still much lighter than I imagined when I started planning. I have put my final gear list on the Gear Page.
All of the gear in my pack
My gear packed into drybags
And packing completed
The next couple of days will involve a test Tramp with full weight, setting the tent up in the paddock, sorting food and finalising resupply packages.
On 28th I fly up to Kaitaia where I stay the night before taking the Sandrunner Bus up 90 mile beach to Cape Reinga and the start of the adventure.
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
D-1, Now in Kaitaia
It has been a fun week sorting out the last of my preparations. I have taken my time when completing my tasks to try and make the time go quicker. This has allowed me to do more preparation than I may have done otherwise. I have also enjoyed being spoiled by by wonderful and patient parents who took my challenge to gain 2 kg in a week seriously, and forgave my singular focus.
Food was the biggest task to get done. I have repackaged nearly everything into Zip Lock Plastic Bags to sort into complete meals and reduce weight. For example Dehydrated meals packaging was 12 g difference between the maufacturer packaging and plastic bag. However I have kept one package to use to heat the food up and I will just reuse this.
I have taken menu ideas from other people’s blogs and personal experience. For dinners I have settled on 3 meal types + Backcountry Cuisine Dehydrated Meals. The base meals are; Pasta, Couscous and Potatoe flakes. To these I have added flavouring like onion flakes, garlic powder, surprise peas, bacon bits, curry paste. For the dehydrated meals I am starting with single serve meals for the first 2 weeks, then 1 1/2 meals and then 2 person meals. For breakfast I don’t like solid meals so I will be having Complan and MilkPowder with hot water. I have used this for most of my tramping and know this will give me enough energy until lunch. Lunch will be tortilla with either peanut butter or cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Salami. Closer to towns I will add hummus to this. For snacks I have OSM, Muslea Bars, Beef Jerkey and Scroggin of my own mix which includes; almonds, peanuts, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, dried cranberries, dried apricot (NZ type not turkish), dried apple and dried berry mix.
I have prepared enough breakfasts and dinners for the North Island. I have enough lunch and snacks for the first 8 days and then I will start buying as I go. These have been packaged up in bundles based on where I expect to mail resupply packages to myself. Also in these resupply packages are my maps.
Four days of food The same food packaged ready to go
I went for a 3 hour trial walk wearing the clothes I will be taking and with everything in my pack less food. This was a lovely walk around a couple of big hills with stunning views in every direction.
The view looking North at start of trial Tramp More stunning views
I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable my pack was (ZPacks Arc Blast 60 l). The weight was sitting nicely on my hips and nothing on my shoulders. I experimented with my water bottles and have them sitting on my shoulder straps in a way that I can just lower my head to drink from them. They are Platypus Flexible Bottles so I just squeeze them to get water up to my mouth. My feet felt good in my new Innov8 Rocklite 295 shoes. Though I discovered there is a gap between the shoe and the shoe tongue which is letting in dirt so that will be sewed up.
Looking South East. 2 hours into the Tramp and feeling good.
I have been experimenting with a gas cylinder to try and figure out exactly how many meals I will get out of each one. Using My Titanium 900ml Pot, with 600ml water and no lid it is taking an average of 6.5g of gas and 3 min 28 seconds per boil. I managed to get 28 boils out of the cylinder so with 2 boils a day each cylinder will last me 14 days.
This morning I started my journey North. My first package was posted to Ahipara on the way to the airport. The flight from Dunedin to Auckland to Kaitaia went well.
Weather looks great from the air Unfortunately weather not so good in Kaitia on landing.
Forecast tomorrow is for rain and gale force winds – crap!
In Kaitaia I asked someone about getting into town and was offered a ride. My good samaritan even let me drop of my kit at the motel before dropping me of at The Warehouse to buy a gas cylinder. (Trail Angel #1). Then it was a nutritious dinner of KFC before a final repacking of my pack. Tomorrow pickup is at 0900 by Sandrunner Tours who have given me a good discount for only going one way of the tour to Cape Reinga.
It will be good, and also scary, to drive up 90 mile beach in a couple of hours knowing that will take me 4 days to walk back down.
It still hasn’t really sunk in that tomorrow I will finally be starting this journey which had been 11 months in the planning. I am nervous about how my body will hold up but looking forward to starting.