Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ten Legs, Thirteen Thousand Kilometres

This is Andy Greene. The one on the right, I mean. The more compact gentleman on the left is yours truly.

I read in the local paper the other day that Andy, age 67, is walking the length of New Zealand. At 2,000 kms, this is roughly the same distance as my own Big Walk, I thought it would be good to meet Andy and compare notes.

It turns out Andy also lives in France, at Grenoble, in the Alps. He is actually American, from New Jersey. He is walking from Cape Reinga, in the far north of New Zealand, to Bluff at the southern extremity of South Island. He is doing it in four sections - a half an island per year, and has just finished his third year of walking, at Timaru. He is walking mainly along the verge of the main highways, which has been a bit hairy at times, New Zealand drivers not being the best in the world.

I arranged a meeting yesterday afternoon between the two of us and three other Big Walkers. Shelaine is a young Canadian, from Calgary, who walked the Te Araroa Trail before it was officially opened 4 months ago by John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Te Araroa, at 3,000 kms, is one of the longest trails in the world and is all off-road, sometimes quite arduous and crossing several areas of wilderness where it is necessary to carry 10 days supply of food as well as camping and cooking equipment, et cetera.

Shelaine is currently working at the Hanmer Forest Camp where we are staying. The managers of the Camp are Steve and Lynne, who will, in a few months, be finishing here and setting off to walk the Te Araroa.

So there was a lot of walking in the legs gathered round that table yesterday afternoon. In the evening, we went out with Andy to an excellent Asian restaurant - Malabar - here in Hanmer Springs. Gay and I walked in and, after a good evening with Andy, walked the three and a half kilometres back in the pitch dark.

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