In September 2017, I decided to realise a
long-distance walking route -Te Araroa that intersects the northern tip of New Zealand (Cape Reinga) with southern tip (Bluff). I will complete this journey the other way around, because I am beginning comparatively late (January 2018) and it is necessary I get across the distance before the New Zealand winter, i.e. before June. I have been advised not to spend the winter in the Alps on the South Island.
Te Araroa is justifiably called one of the most beautiful, but also the most difficult long-distance walking route in the world. A 3 000 km long journey that includes 100 km of elevation gain in the picturesque New Zealand scenery is waiting for me. The nature will show up in all its various colours – wandering through the jungle between kauri trees that perfectly create the illusion of the prehistoric forest, the long beaches along the famous Ninety Mile Beach, the route passing the volcanoes in the National Park Tongario or the steep inclines and descents along the ridges of the New Zealand Alps. Simply put - the beauty and the journey through “Middle-earth“.
Some people ask me, “why mostly afoot? “. This way of travelling takes a very long time and it would be a lot of faster to use a car or a bicycle. I think, afoot it is much more exciting! The speed mentioned earlier is one of the most important reasons. Because of the walking, I have the opportunity to closely experience the countryside, the local population and possibly I will have time for my own thoughts – it is actually the most terrifying thing that is happening to me on such trips. Have you ever tried to be angry and to swear at yourself? Especially I mean, when you have walked 55 km, when you have aches and pains all over and you finally find out that you are going the wrong way! At this moment you do not have a choice to be angry at anyone else – this was my situation - I screamed at myself on my way to Santiago.
I like to praise myself also. For instance I say quite often “Martin, you’re pretty good!”.
Those who know me say that I am a positive person. Maybe they are right, it is hard to tell, judge for yourself. It is true I do not like pessimism and I also believe that there is always a viable option for even the largest problem. I also do not like boredom. That’s why I am a member of an amateur theatre group in the village where I live. I am constantly taking part in educational programs of marketing and international business and I truly enjoy it. I love animals because I grew up with them from early childhood due to the family breeding Golden Retrievers. I am also taking part in summer camps for children as a camp counselor, because the children inspire me incredibly! Just imagine how many crazy non-senses a child can think of!, I am always upset that I did not discover it myself and of course - I love travelling!
My first longer trip was along the pilgrimage route of St. James to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. The pilgrim route is very popular and it was an important experience for me. I had been so much fond of hiking that I did not know before the expedition that I was only hiking 350 km! I am getting ready for a ten times longer distance at the moment and the elevation gain I prefer not to think about. These are only numbers, the trip itself will be marvelous! I am looking forward to it. I am very much looking forward to it!!
From an organizational viewpoint to set forth on such a journey is challenging, as you may have guessed. There are not a lot of employers who will give you 5 months time out of your employment and then reinstated you under same conditions. I resigned my job in the firm where I worked as a project and marketing manager and suddenly I feel absolutely free, I have to say! My only concerns will be to move forward either my right or left leg and make selfish decisions, like for example, I am not going anywhere today or I am going to stay over night by the picturesque waterfall, because simply, I like it there. Above all – who would not enjoy walking through what I believe to be the most beautiful countryside in the world.
I take my ukulele with me on the trip for at least two reasons:- firstly, I am going to have fun with it in the tent during the long and lonely evenings and secondly, I am planning that the ukulele will help me to pick up the chicks. The truth is, I admit to myself that if during the trip, I meet anyone at all, I will be happy.
Those who keep track of me know that my journey will begin very soon. That is why I am currently dealing with a lot of preparations. I am studying maps, installing the necessary applications on my phone, printing the essential documents and arranging a second payment card as a back-up. I canceled the health insurance contract. Primarily, I am just choosing the appropriate equipment, to carry on my back during my trip. In this regard, company Hannah and the Rock Point store have helped me greatly. I have been very well-advised on my selection and I have received from them a lot of quality equipment
for my journey.
Meanwhile, I plan to have a maximum weight of 16 kg plus food and drink supplies for about 8 days, in accord with the current location and distance to the “resupply point“. I decided to test the tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat now, in December, to find out how I will cope with the cold (-5°C) and the test turned out absolutely great! I am not afraid of anything anymore and I can now leave on my trip!
If you want to follow me, I will contribute on my Facebook profile “Mářa na cestách” (fb.com/maranacestach) and blog www.martinmarik.cz.
Start off on the right foot!
Text and photos: Martin Mařík