We have arrived – at the bottom of the rabbit hole, if you will. Months of planning, days of organizing, many moments of list making and we are here. The endless memories of stressing over details flitter through my mind like a field of butterflies and all I care about is that we are here. We have made it and still have yet to actually begin.
From opposite sides of the world, we have come to meet in Auckland, New Zealand. Alex Ward and I, that is. Me being from Canada and her from the UK, we initially met in Western Australia when our separate journeys brought us together at Cable Beach Caravan Park in Broome. Surrounded by a family of tents, red dirt and palm trees, Alex and I made the decision to trek the entire distance of New Zealand. Together.
From Cape Reigna to Bluff, New Zealand’s newest long distance trail (set to officially open early 2011) will stretch approximately 3000km and take trampers over mountains, along coastlines, through farming fields, across rivers and around volcanoes. Te Araroa – The Long Pathway – filled us with hope. A desire of adventure. A dream of something greater.
And so it began. Our notebooks filled with checklists, we tackled our tasks of preparation with the level of perseverance we didn’t even know we had. Building our own websites, deciding which organization to raise money for, updating blogs, contacting outdoor gear companies for sponsorship, pushing to get the word out on a trail that has yet to be officially opened were just some of the things we had to do. All while working jobs, hanging with friends and attempting to catch some shuteye before the Barking Owls started going at it in the trees above our tents.
Now we look ahead to our final month of preparation in Auckland as we reminisce on all the setbacks we have overcome and successes we have celebrated along the way, Alex and I can’t help but be excited over the fact that we have made it. Months of planning, preparing and simply crossing our fingers in hope that we could even get into New Zealand have paid off. We now just have the task of ensuring all our ducks are in a row. Today we get to receive all the items our sponsors have so generously provided for us and tomorrow we get to shop for anything else we need. It feels like Christmas only so much better as we are doing this to promote women’s adventure travel, environmental sustainability and raise money for Indigo Foundation.
Indigo Foundation is a non-governmental organization based out of Australia that is involved with many projects across the South Pacific region. We have decided to raise money for their Solomon Island project, hoping to reach our goal of $10000AUD. The money would go towards a community affected by natural disasters and a complicated history of tensions among its people. The money would help in educating the people, from children to adults and give them the life skills needed for the community to withstand anything that comes their way. Not to mention that should we reach our goal, the money would be worth two years of funding for the project.
So as we gear up for our proposed start date of October 15, 2010, we can only imagine where our journey will take us. Our adventure in front of us will only lead us further down the rabbit hole and we can safely say that New Zealand is most definitely a Wonderland of its own. And we can’t wait to explore every bit of it.
Written by: Shalane Hopkins
photo Getty Images
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