That’s a wrap!
After thinking long and hard the past couple of days, and weighing up the good and bad, I’ve made the tough decision to end my Te Araroa journey now, after finishing the South Island.
There a multitude of reasons I’ve made this decision, but the main one for me is that I feel done, I feel like I’ve completed everything I set out to complete, especially on a mental health note.
One of the reasons I started this journey was to try and reconnect with myself, try to find some sense of purpose or enjoyment in life and I have achieved that.
I have a whole new outlook on life, both in what matters and what doesn’t. I realised how simple life can be, and how worrying about what everyone else thinks is completely irrelevant, because if people can like me after 6 days of not showering, with hairy armpits and exhausted, then the problem definitely isn’t me.
I’ve learnt to prioritise what I enjoy, what I want from life, and not abide by the accepted definitions of success. So what if I’m 24 and have no idea what I want to do with life? I know what I enjoy and if I keep doing those things then, by my own definition, I am successful.
Lastly, I’ve learnt to move on. I’ve suffered hugely from trauma and mental illnesses in the past, and I set out on this journey with the hope of closing one chapter and beginning the rest of the my life. And I’ve done that.
The 16th of February is a very sentimental day for me. A few years ago, on the 16th of February I hit my lowest point and since then I’ve marked the occasion every year by watching the sunset.
Well, this year, the 16th of February happened to be my last day on the Te Araroa Trail. I watched the sunset and when I got up the next morning and made it to Ship Cove in time for the sunrise, it felt like the world had shown me that I was truly ready to move on and live my best life. It was the true beginning of my ‘positive mental health’ life. So I enjoyed the moment and reflected on everything I had achieved.
This journey has been a true adventure. I’ve learnt so much about myself, grown in confidence and reconnected with parts of myself that I had lost or forgotten, all while seeing the best parts of the South Island.
To everyone I met along the way, other NOBOs, all the SOBOs, and other walkers not doing the TA, thank you! The people have been such an important part of my walk, and I don’t think I would have made it to Ship Cove without all the friendships and laughter along the way.
Special mention to my hiking buddy Jacqui. What an adventure we’ve been on, both thinking we were going to do it solo, but both becoming attached to the company. You’ve seen me at my absolute worst, and at my absolute best and I am so thankful and proud of everything that we’ve seen and done together.
It’s hard to put into words all the emotions and successes along the way, so to summarise my experience, I’ll leave you with some stats:
KMs walked: 1299km
Walking days: 61
Rest days: 42 (including 10 over Christmas)
Rainy days: 4
Toenails lost: 3
New scars: 7
Pairs of boots: 1 (and they’re still going strong)
Burgers consumed: 18
Sandflies killed: Not nearly enough
Photos taken: 1478
KGs lost: 16kg
Sliced fingers: 1
Friends made: so many
Stay tuned, as I do aim to finish the North Island some time in the future, but for now it is time to start the next chapter of my life with my new outlook.