Dad takes son for a walk, right up South Island
Spending quality time with dad is often a young boy's dream, but for one young Australian that quality time will involve 90 days travelling the length of the South Island - on foot.
Nine-year-old Lucas Simon took his first steps on a 1200-kilometre trek alongside his dad, John, from Bluff yesterday morning.
"I've got some really good shoes and have been training with dad back home," Lucas said before he set off.
The father and son trampers, from a small town in northern New South Wales, hope to create an experience that will last a lifetime and raise money for a worthwhile cause.
"We will be raising money for a charity called Room to Read that helps children in Third World countries get access to books," he said.
Mr Simon said the walk had raised a few eyebrows but it was something they both wanted to do.
"Over the past six months we have been thinking about this, I have heard 100 reasons why we shouldn't do this - it's dangerous, it's irresponsible, Lucas is too young, among other negative reactions," he said.
However, for every doubter there were those who supported the idea.
"Dads can be under-rated. Often they are busy and don't have the time to spend as much time with their kids as they want," Mr Simon said.
Facing and conquering physical and mental challenges every day and sharing the great times would all be part of the incredible journey he and his son would experience together, Mr Simon said.
"This experience is about the journey and strengthening an already strong bond between father and son.
"Hopefully Lucas will pick up some life skills that will also help and guide him through the rest of his life's journey," he said.
He had also walked in New Zealand with his own father and wanted to share a similar experience with his son, he said.
Mr Simon said he hoped anyone who saw the pair would wave, stop, say g'day or even walk a while.
Lucas, who said he regularly walked in Australia with his father, said he was most looking forward to the Cascade Saddle in Mount Aspiring National Park.
"It's the highest part of the trip and I like a challenge," he said.
While he was excited to be getting started and spending lots of time with his dad, Lucas did say he would miss a few special people.
"My mum and sister Isabelle are back home," he said. However, the family will be reunited at Christmas in Hanmer Springs.
The pair's journey can be seen at walkingwithdad.com
The Southland Times