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