When people hear we are walking Te Araroa, apart from general questions, the one question that often comes up is “what has been your favourite part?” For me anyway, there are far too many experiences, good and otherwise, that can make up a “favourite part”.
The question did however; start me thinking about what it is that we get from walking Te Araroa. In reality, it’s rather like trying to describe the 'Dao’, if you can describe it, then that is not it! Not to be deterred, I kept working the thought and have come up with a couple of things that possibly, help towards explaining why this whole experience is so seductive.
Firstly, ‘acceptance’! You have this idea to journey through New Zealand along Te Araroa. That can take all sorts of shapes, from walking every step of the way (as we are) to walking and hitching, walking and cycling or section hiking parts. Whatever it is, it is your journey. There is however at some point in time a level of acceptance that arrives for whatever the trail presents you with. I now find myself seeing the uphills, the downhills, the rocks, the rivers, the beaches, the roads, the forests, the mud, the blisters, the aches, the pains, the food, the weather – all in a similar light of it just being what it is. Hardly a flicker of emotion crosses my mind and you just get on with it. Secondly, with the acceptance of what you are presented with, I believe, comes a ‘letting go’. With letting go, it means you are totally able to absorb into your being the pure beauty and nature (good stuff and hard stuff) of all that Te Araroa offers – and there is so much on offer. From the people to the land, Te Araroa is filled with generosity and challenges and being absorbed into all of this, I find huge contentment and fulfillment.
I have at times used the following description or analogy.
In our everyday lives, we may have our own exercise or health regime that we know helps to keep us in better mental and physical shape, more able to cope with life’s stresses. It is absolutely imperative that we have this and for me that is a little bit like ‘refreshing’ the screen of my computer each day. By comparison, to experience the long distance walking of Te Araroa, it is rather like a total ‘reboot’ of the computer. The sense of health, fitness and general wellbeing is an amazing feeling, understandably attractive, and as mentioned, seductive. This analogy is all very well and, even though we still have 700kms of TA to walk, I am beginning to feel concerned about how often I might want my being to be ‘rebooted’!!! Maybe PCT, CDT or AT in the future, who knows?
To finish off, I think my overwhelming feeling for walking Te Araroa is one of gratitude. I am so grateful and appreciative to have the opportunity to experience Te Araroa. A huge thank you and aroha to our beautiful Aotearoa (New Zealand) and her tangata (people). The experience for me so far, has been ........well, in an absolutely positive class of its own.
: ) B
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!