After 31 hours of traveling, a 4 hour stop in London and another 4 hour stop (that turned into 5 hours…) I’m finally in Auckland! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time now and I’m so happy and excited to finally be here. I’m really tired and my body doesn’t know if it’s morning och evening or even what day it is…but my clock says 10.15 PM and I have problems keeping my eyes open, so whatever day it is, it’s for sure time to go to bed.
Tomorrow it’s time for my last planning and gear buying, and on Thursday (my brothers birthday!) morning I’m heading north to Kaitaia or Ahipara to get a bit closer to Cape Reinga, where I start the trail on Friday morning. Can’t wait for this to finally happen, I hope you’re with me along the way!
What once was an adventure that seemed SO far away all of a sudden is only 41 days(!) away. What was a huge dream is slowly turning into reality. I am soon leaving Sweden for my biggest challenge so far, and my mind is a perfect mix of excitement, fear, determination and happiness. In only 984 hours I’m on a plane with my life in a backpack.
So – am I done with my planning? H*ll no.
What some of you don’t know about me is that I’m not an experienced adventurer…or even a hiker. Not at all. You probably can’t imagine how much you need to read and learn for a thru-hike like this when you’re not that used to being outdoors. Every awake minute is spent on thinking about my upcoming adventure and I even dream about it at night.
Which tent (my home for a couple of months) is the best? How do I use a compass (haven’t used one since in school when I was 10)? Stoves…how do I cook in the most efficient way? How do I charge my phone when I’m out of electricity for 10 days? Where do I find water and how do I make it clean and pure enough to drink? How much food is enough food to carry when I can’t resupply for many days? Down sleeping bag or synthetic? Ten thousand questions are flying around in my head and it’s a full time job to make them all calm down and relax a bit. I’ll manage.
Luckily I’ve got a lot of help along the way and made some new friends…people that I owe big time and who make this planning so much easier. Former Te Araroa thru-hikers like Eef and JP. Patrik and Hanna at Silva. James (kiwi living in Sweden) at Kajaktiv. Thomas at Hilleberg. Fredrik and Johan at Haglöfs. The super twins Annie and Linnéa at Gococo. Locals who have emailed me for inviting me to their homes. The list is not even complete yet, I still have a few meetings left and I feel like I’m gonna be well prepared on October 25 when I board my plane to London for the first airborne step towards Auckland. THANK YOU each and everyone of you that have helped me this far, I can’t even explain how much it means to me. Still I have a million things to do before I leave, but I’m slowly and steadily getting there…
I’m far beyond excited and have a huge respect for my trip. And most of all, I am deeply thankful for everything you generous people have done and still are doing for ->my fundraising<- to Swedish Cancerfonden and their work for cancer research. We’ve raised over SEK 61000(!!!) already, and I’m feeling hopeful about reaching my SEK 150000 goal. You are all amazing! Let’s make a gigantic difference together and taking one step closer to fight and destroy cancer. Forever.
That’s the most common question I get when I tell people about my upcoming adventure along Te Araroa. Aren’t you scared?
To be honest? No. I’m not scared, that feeling would totally eat me from inside and kill all the pleasure in everything about the trip. I can’t travel alone for 30 hours to the other side of the world and plan to walk 3000 kilometers with the feeling of fear inside me. That would be a completely unsustainable situation.
I do have a huge respect, though. Respect for the nature and its challenges. For the mountains on the South Island. The dense forests on the North Island. The countless amount of river crossings (no, no bridges…) along the way. For the possums trying to chew their way into my tent at night. The quick changes in the weather and parts of the trail that can be really dangerous to try to master without checking the weather forecast. The long stretches with no possibility to resupply food. For the fact that people do get lost along the trail and some of them have never been found again. But I’m not scared.
But I won’t lie to you. There’s maybe one thing that I actually am a bit afraid of. The dark. Of course, I know deep down that the world around me looks exactly the same at night, as it does when it’s full daylight…but still. I can’t see it and that plays tricks on my mind. The woods are getting absolutely pitch black at night and the feeling that my only source of light sometimes will be my headlamp when I’m alone in my tent, that feeling makes me a bit…scared, to be honest. But I’ll manage.
I was afraid of the dark even when I walked El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain five years ago, and that time I was all by myself every morning except from the last one, 19 days in a row. My way to handle my fear of the dark back then was to set my alarm clock really early every morning, just to be forced to walk in the dark for at least an hour before the dawn. Some mornings I even turned off my headlamp for the nature around me to become completely dark. You know what happened? Nothing. Nothing but me getting to see all the beautiful sunrises that all the other people, still laying in their beds, missed.
I didn’t regret it one single morning, just as I won’t regret facing my fear of the dark for 150 days on the other side of the world.
…and after all, darkness only exist so you can see the stars shine.
I’ve been pinching my arms more than once during the last couple of months. What started out as a dream three years ago is about to come true…I still really can’t believe it. Until now, only my family and my closest friends have known about my plans and I am so happy to finally be able to tell the rest of the world that I, on the 25th of October, am leaving Sweden (with its not very lovely cold and dark winter) for SPENDING FIVE MONTHS IN NEW ZEALAND!!!
Why? My spontaneous answer is why not?, but I guess (and hope) that you want a better answer than that. So, I’m gonna backpack…on foot. Or hike. Or tramp, to speak New Zealand English. For five months? Oh yes! I’m gonna tramp Te Araroa = a trail through the entire country – 3000 kilometers (1864 miles) from the north to the south...and I can’t believe that my dream that I’ve nourished in the back of my mind for more than three years finally will become reality. Alone? You bet! I’m pretty sure I’m not gonna be alone for 3000k…I’ll find new friends along the way, not worried at all. I’m really looking forward to spending a lot of time alone though, challenging not only my physical but also the mental strengths that (I think) I’ve got.
I’m sure that those of you who already know me aren’t very surprised and you might think “oh well, she walked 800 kilometers through Spain five years ago, she’ll make it”…but this is something else. Completely.
Spain and its terrain wasn’t much of a challenge compared to this. Sure, I walked 40k every day for 3 weeks in a row and I was both physically and mentally exhausted every night, but at least I had a shower and dinner waiting for me…and a bed. Inside. The fact is that the shower and the bed were what kept me going the 10th hour…11th hour…12th hour…
But tramping in New Zealand is not hiking in Spain. The shower along Te Araroa is often a lake, a river, the sea or…nothing at all. The (most of the time) warm bed inside is this time gonna be my tent, or some nights a hut (without heating, of course). The dinners at the small Spanish restaurants are along Te Araroa “home” made meals cooked outside on a stove. And on top of that, in Spain I saw no trace of dense forests, swing bridges, river crossings and private land with thousands of sheep. Again, this is a completely different adventure…the biggest one in my life, so far. I’m feeling like the young Bastian in the movie “The Neverending Story” with my precious book and its words becoming reality…
I won’t even try to describe how excited I am about this and how much I’m looking forward to take the first steps down from the lighthouse at Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean…but I still have 84 days (only!) of planning (a LOT of planning, that is) left to do. Of course, I will tell you everything about what’s happening until I leave, but first – browse around and please, read about my charity work to raise money for cancer research along the way. If you have the possibility, please contribute by sponsoring 1 kilometer…it truly means the world to me. ♥