Walker prepares for southern leg

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 13:58 02/01/2014
Johnathan Wright

Johnathan Wright

Johnathan Wright
Johnathan Wright : That's the North Island done.

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Walking the North Island part of the Te Araroa Trail to raise money for Marlborough Riding for the Disabled was even more of an amazing experience than Blenheim man Jonathan Wright expected.

The South Island would be a harder walk, he said.

Mr Wright was having a break in Renwick yesterday, and planned to resume his walk from Havelock tomorrow.

The Te Araroa Trail runs 3000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff, largely through wilderness.

Originally from Britain, Mr Wright is an avid tramper who moved to Marlborough a year ago after nine years in Auckland.

"The North Island is quite easy in some respects; you don't need to think too hard about food and stuff. The South Island is quite different."

He was organising food parcels to be sent to him along the way before resuming his walk along the trail.

Large stretches of the South Island trail were difficult, particularly where he was starting, in Havelock and crossing the Richmond Ranges.

"There's a lot of up and down, and there are long distances."

Mr Wright said he intended to take an extra day's food with him as a buffer in case the weather turned bad and it took him longer to walk any section of the trail.

Parts of the North Island had been tricky, such as crossing the Tararuas, he said.

The North Island stretch wasn't easy, but it was definitely a trail of two halves, he said.

The highlight was the people he met along the way. There were the other people walking the trail, such as a German couple he'd met in the north of the North Island, and an Australian man from Perth who he was "leap-frogging". Mr Wright was walking longer distances for three to six days, while the other man was walking shorter distances but walking every day, so their paths kept crossing.

But even better were the "random" people he met while walking - including a Northland man he met while the man was walking his dog. After a 20-minute conversation, the man invited him home, where the man's wife cooked them a steak dinner, they drank beer, watched the All Blacks beat Japan in a televised rugby game, and gave him a bed for the night, before taking him fishing the next day.

"That's been the really great thing about it, the people you meet along the way. It's an unexpected highlight of the whole trip."

Mr Wright had been keen to do the challenge for six or seven years and decided to do it as a fundraiser. He hopes to raise $5000 for Marlborough Riding for Disabled so they can buy a new pony.

"Fundraising is really hard work, and it's not easy for smaller organisations to do. I hope the money I do raise will be worth more to these guys."

The walk was a "fantastic" experience, and he was "so glad" to be doing it.

"It's one of the most rewarding things I've ever done."

To learn more about the trip, follow Jonathan Wright's journey and find out how to donate to the fundraising check out thelongpathway.com.

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- The Marlborough Express

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