So, I’ve reunited with Autumn, caught up with my mates and now, we’re on our way down to Lawrence from Ophir on the 13th stage of an adventure that began back in 2006. It’s been a fantastic experience and I’m looking forward to posting regular updates on what has certainly become …

The Great New Zealand Trek

Before I start let me introduce you to my good friend who  kindly hosted me at Maranui luxury accommodation Rail Trail Lodge in Ophir at the start of my trek. It was great to catch up and I would loved to have spent longer but it was time to see another sight around this small community which is rarely in the news but should be. It’s such a friendly welcoming place. Hmm but best not get too cosy I suppose, the next week won’t be as comfortable.

Blacks Hotel also deserves a special mention here. It has received a lot of attention from travelers to these parts and has won some very encouraging feedback from a string of guests. The hotel stands out because of its beautifully restored Art Deco design but has become better known for its great hospitality in an area that is laced with wild thyme and breath taking scenery.

After a hard day on the trail the horses are watered and fed by volunteers who travel with the group throughout the journey. I’ll explain a little more about how all this works as our journey develops but the volunteers are an essential ingredient and they each work at least six hours a day to help make all this happen.

Our trek started on Sunday, March 4 and the first 48 hours were all under mostly clear skies. The views here are just incredible and I’m finally starting to feel that I’ve finally left Auckland behind. In front of me are two of the walkers who are making the journey on foot.

But then things begin to change. As we rise to around 2000 ft above sea level the weather begins to pack in. It’s freezing and I’ll certainly be tucking up in my Long Johns with a hot water bottle tonight.

Yes and wouldn’t you know it the fog packs in, visibility reduces considerably and it gets even colder! Can’t wait to get down out of this.

Then there are the moments that make you really thankful for the main ingredient this trek is all about. What would it be without a good laugh with friends as we take a break to recover in a warmer spot. I have a lot of fond memories from the treks I’ve done over the years and will always carry them with me.

Beautiful, cool, clear mornings! Much of these journey crosses easily traveled routes and its always through back country areas…places regular tourists would just never see.

If you haven’t heard about it already, you may not know that The Great New Zealand Trek isn’t a commercial venture. The trek is run by a charitable trust which each year raises funds for multiple sclerosis. For more details on this go to The Great New Zealand Trek web site. The link I’ve put you through to covers the history of the trek and you can see how much money has been raised on each of the journeys. We donate roughly about $35,000 a year to the cause and we also have an auction. This year that raised about $15,000 and adds to the $100 that everybody contributes as part of their fee for the trip. And then one guy has his beard shaved off and that raised about $3,500.

Most of this year’s trip was through remote areas and cell phone reception wasn’t always available so I could make daily posts but I hope you can see from the pictures here that the 13th leg of this journey was another amazing adventure. The whole thing is just such a great experience.

Fantastic! Now I can’t wait for a good night’s sleep in a real bed before I return to the real world which, for me,  is more than half the world away from here.