The day after finishing our walk we returned to Bluff to welcome in Andrew. He started the same day as us in Cape Reinga so it seemed fitting for us to be there at the end as well.
There was a big crowd milling around to welcome in all the Tour Aotearoa riders of which around 20 came in while we were there. It was a real party atmosphere as most of their supporters had balloons, signs and drinks.
Andrew duly arrived in
with Shaun but then to our surprise another six Te Araroa walkers came in within the next hour or so. The hut logs had shown only a few individuals in the week or two ahead of us and we did know of a few behind us, but to think there were eight only one day behind us for who knows how long!!!
It was quite surreal to be there in our ‘civvies’ congratulating them all. It felt like we’d never done it ourselves. We were old news. It was a nice party though with plenty of drinks to go around with what we’d brought and what the cycle supporters were sharing.
Then several days after returning home
there was another very special finish we wanted to be at. Jackie and Phil had done a sobo loop from Rob & Georges house in Whanganui. Kim was also with them although not quite finished yet.
They finished in style dressed for the occasion with some op shop finds. Rob and George went all out with our celebrations with heartfelt gifts for us all and a special dinner.
We had a great night celebrating and comparing stories of the trail since we last all walked together.
The scenery of NZ has been stunning but what has made this adventure so special has been the people. Our most memorable moments have been the interactions with others.
Trail angels and kaitiaki are incredible people who generously offer everything they can to help us. Mostly it’s been our friends and family but also complete strangers who want nothing more than the pleasure of being able to help and to have a chat. We have had beds (29 of our 152 nights), meals, drinks, transport, support and encouragement. Special mention to Dad who has sent all our supply boxes, including driving 4 hours to drop one to us, worrying for our safety and monitoring our gps locations daily as well of taking care of everything at home for us
And apologies to trail angels I didn’t get a photo of: Jason & Kay, Casey & Jon, Loic,
Max & Maree, Sue, Lorraine & Gary
We loved meeting fellow TA walkers to compare notes of the day, our plans, tips and general chit chat. Having such a big thing in common made ages, stages of life, and backgrounds completely irrelevant. Unfortunately we only had seven occasions where we were with others over multiple days. We met many more but only in passing or perhaps one night. This was due to covid disruptions and lockdowns mucking everything around.
We were grateful to Olivia and Darlene & Margaret who walked with us over several days. I’m assuming our other friends who had expressed interest were worried about being able to keep up with us 😂
Also our friends who travelled just to see us - a nice link to our regular life.
A great source of motivation and encouragement came from our followers on here and on Instagram. I often felt perked up after climbing some horrendous hill to find cell phone reception and nice messages at the top.
We are also extremely appreciative of Te Aroroa trust, regional TA committees, councils and landowners for excellent signage, providing access and creating the well thought out trail. There is always room for improvement but overall the route was great. There were so many highlights and variations. We never truly got lost thanks to the signage and the TA app.
A huge heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone of you. Please reach out if I can help any of you in any way.