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Why not just walk in NZ?

Why not just walk in NZ? Then you could donate the airfare money too.

Spain Sept 15 044

It’s a valid question, and one we considered carefully. Actually, we more than considered it; we investigated doing exactly that before we even thought about going back to Spain.

Money. Time. Whatever we do, it’s going to cost us. So we want to walk 1,000km with an 8-year-old. Experience tells us 15km a day….when it is day after day after day… a reasonable distance to aim for. That means about 70 days. Just for argument’s sake, to stay in youth hostels in NZ would be over $100 a night. Which is over $7,000. Which is not too much less than airfares to Europe. Walking here would not necessarily be a lot cheaper.

But cost is not the only factor.

The main issue is accommodation. 1,000km in NZ could be done by going from Cape Reinga to Wellington. So we start at Cape Reinga and the first settlement we come across is Te Kao. Unfortunately that is over 44km away and we’re not up for walking a marathon on the first day! Besides, there’s not actually a legal camping place there, and no youth hostel or motel or five star hotel either. It’s another 25km before we find somewhere that we could legally stop and we can’t walk 70km without sleeping;-)
The kids cope with carrying their own gear – it’s not reasonable to expect them to lug the extra supplies we would need for camping out (tents, cooking utensils, burner, washing facilities, sleeping mats, food supplies and additional water).
And as for walking along SH1 – does fighting with trucks need to be part of the plan?
Along the camino routes, however, there are accommodation options every few kilometres, and cheap ones too. We can stay for a week in Spain for what it would cost us to spend one night in a cheap motel in NZ. Plus we get to take a shower and wash our clothes in a sink each afternoon, and sleep in a bed at night.
Food is cheaper, too, and available at frequent intervals. In NZ we would need to carry a few days’ worth at a time – in Spain we can pick up what we need as we need it from little hamlets dotted along the path. Paths which are very frequently off-road.
So we ruled out the North Island Walk.

Trudging alongside SH1 didn’t appeal, but we wondered whether we could string together New Zealand’s Great Walks. Then at least accommodation would be provided. But that’s not cheap either. The huts might be basic, but they still cost an arm and a leg. Getting one adult to Stewart Island from Invercargill costs two weeks’ accommodation for all of us in Spain. And you gotta get to Invercargill first! Oodles of dollars in petrol or if we take the train and ferry as far as we can, we’d still have to hire a van to get to the start of the routes.
And that’s not all. There’s a but, a big but….here it is……BUT….even if we did all of the walks we wouldn’t make it to even 400km – and quite frankly, 398km-walk-for-water doesn’t have the same ring about it. Plus, we’d have to leave the 8-year-old at home because you have to be at least ten years old to do the Milford Track. And even if we did leave her behind, what are the chances of managing to get bookings on all those tracks in one season? We haven’t heard of anyone managing to fit them all together in one sitting.
Nup, that’s not going to work either. Not this time.

By this stage, remembrances of how easy it was to walk along established camino paths in Spain entered my thinking. Not easy-in-terms-of-no-hardship, but easy as opposed to ridiculously silly.
We priced it up. Yes, $10,000 for airfares. And a few more euros for food and accommodation, although truth be told, we would also be eating food even if we stayed in NZ (and spending more on it, what’s more).

We decided we were in a position to choose to spend 10K if we wanted to. We weren’t planning to, but we were able to. We thought that if we could get sponsors to generate $20,000, then we would have raised more than if we simply gave our own money away. Mboy11 has his hopes pinned on $100,000!

So we thought about how to raise money. We listed all the people we could ask – and it goes well beyond our family and friends! Other people just might give – and not only give once, but start a habit of giving, resulting in far more than our airfares building one water project in Africa.

We decided we would devote a decent amount of time and effort to focussing on fundraising – this would not just be a walk in the park, it would not just be a holiday. It would be a learning opportunity for all of us. As we learnt, the children also would learn how to go about fundraising. They would learn they could make a difference in the world. They would learn to use their voice to stand up for justice, to fight poverty, to defend the defenseless. They would learn to use their resources to benefit others. They would see that we don’t just give money to causes, but we can invest ourselves in them. They would learn to do hard things. They would experience sacrifice. They would walk. And walk. And walk. And walk some more. And think about the women and children who have to do that same walking every day just to keep their families alive.

This is about so much more than money.

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4 responses to “Why not just walk in NZ?”

  1. Rose says:

    When my aunt and uncle walked the length of New Zealand, they stayed in a campervan each night and hired someone to drive it to the next spot for them. Would this work for you? Maybe your husband and older kids could take turns to be your driver, which would have the benefit of not splitting your family apart for the whole 70 days. I think this would end up cheaper as you could sell the campervan again at the end of it, and would have no problem with carrying food. They planned routes which kept them off State Highway 1 – I am sure they could offer you heaps of help if you wanted to know their route.

  2. rayres says:

    You know how much we love campervans – bought two of them in Germany to travel round in for six months, and I’d live in a gypsy caravan if it were just me.
    But it won’t work this time. Rob can only have three weeks off work and the older two (if we could urge them to get their license by then – they are too independent on bicycles to need a car) would be studying and holding down jobs that prevent them from taking time off to drive the rest of us round!
    And there’s quite a risk with buying a camper – the cheapest 6-berth we have seen (because we did look!) was a $35,000 bus (so much more expensive than in Europe) and an awful lot of money to have tied up in a vehicle if we could not sell it again. We considered hiring – but at $1,000 a week, it’s pretty pricey too.
    Thanks for the offer of assistance – could well be interested in the future. Did they do Te Araroa? (good off-main-state-highways option)

  3. Margaret says:

    Yes, I also thought about walking in NZ, but couldn’t find a way it would be practical for me. it would involve ‘wild’ camping a lot of the time, and a lot of food plus tent in the pack. Plus a lot would unavoidably be on busy highways. I decided I wanted to do a ‘long walk’ so I went back to France and Spain.

  4. rayres says:

    You were part of our inspiration Margaret!

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