Rock-filled pack good practice for charity walker

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 19/09/2013
Asha Dowgray
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
STARTING OUT: Asha Dowgray walking on the Bluff Highway on his mission to walk the length of the South Island to raise money for three charities.

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Hiking around hills in Banks Peninsula with a pack full of rocks has prepared Asha Dowgray for his lengthy walk of the South Island.

Mr Dowgray, 23, started his journey at Bluff yesterday morning, weighed down by his 25kg pack but full of energy and pride.

Today, he will walk from Invercargill to Riverton with the final destination of Ship Cove in Queens Charlotte Sound in mind in an anticipated 10 weeks.

Sitting down for a rest yesterday afternoon, Mr Dowgray said the aim of the hike, apart from his own enjoyment, was to raise money for the Nurse Maude Hospice, Motor Neurone Disease Association and Malaghan Institute of Medical Research.

The three charities were chosen because of his grandparents.

When Mr Dowgray was seven his grandfather died after battling motor neurone disease and earlier this year his grandmother died of cancer.

Part of his journey was paying homage to the pair, he said.

Mr Dowgray discovered the length of New Zealand Te Araroa trail about two years ago and after his grandmother died he decided to walk the South Island leg of the trail.

To prepare, he started hiking over hills with weighted packs full of rocks or bottles of water.

He then mapped out where he would stay every night and, although he decided to complete the trail alone, he would have friends join him for a few days along the way.

Mr Dowgray will carry a pack with a cell phone, emergency beacon, clothing and wet weather gear, a tent and food, weighing in at about 25kg.

It was a long first day of walking yesterday, but the weather was good.

"It's been really perfect."

He hoped to raise at least $1500 and has set up a website [www.hikeforhealth.co.nz] with a link for donations.

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