Mark Kerr walks for life on epic 3000km journey from Bluff to Cape Reinga
Mark Kerr has already worn out two pairs of shoes on his epic journey the length of New Zealand.
And he expects he will wear out another pair before he's done.
Kerr, 47, said he'd always wanted to walk from Bluff to Cape Reinga, inspired by Geoff Chapple's book Terrain about the Te Araroa Trail.
In January, the Auckland man was driving to his bach on the Coromandel Peninsula when he decided the time was right to quit his job with a cruise ship tour company and make a start on the 3000km journey.
He's been walking ever since, funding the journey himself, along with raising money and awareness for St John Ambulance.
"I chose St John because I think, at some stage in everyone's lives, the services of St John will either touch them or people who are very close to them," he said.
"And then I learnt that they were a charity, they still need to raise a lot of money, and there's an enormous volunteer network throughout the country that are keeping the operation going. That was something that I didn't realise."
It had been fantastic meeting the members and volunteers as he stopped in at St John Ambulance stations the length of the country, he said.
"They're all so supportive of what I'm doing and I turn around and go, oh my goodness, it's you guys that are out there volunteering and providing this service for New Zealanders."
Kerr has also stopped in at schools to help raise awareness of St John. He has walked 2200km so far, losing about 17kg along the way.
"When I'm talking to the schools, I give the kids an opportunity to lift my pack and I say, that's how much weight that I've lost."
His journey has so far taken him through some of New Zealand's great walks, such as the Heaphy, Abel Tasman, Queen Charlotte and Waikaremoana tracks.
After enjoying the beauty of the Karangahake Gorge on May 18, he stayed the night at St John Paeroa before stopping in at Hikutaia School to talk about his travels.
He has a tent in his pack, but has only had to use it about 10 times, thanks to the generosity of those he's met en route.
"This is the amazing thing about what I'm doing - that I wake up in the morning and I have no idea of the experiences that I'm going to have and the people that I'm going to meet during the day."
Kerr said that was also one of the challenging parts of doing the walk - starting the day with no plans, and then just leaving it to fate, letting go of the security of knowing where he will be sleeping or eating.
"I've had to let go of some of that emotive security, and just go well, I'll see what happens," he said.
"But I'm four months down the track and I've not had a bad experience along the way because Kiwis are so generous and hospitable.
"I'll be walking along and people will stop and say, do you want a ride? Or, what are you doing, do you want some food?"
Kerr expects to reach Cape Reinga at the end of June, weather permitting.
He has already raised more than $5000 for St John. To make a donation, visit markwalksforlife.com.