The final week of the walk went like a blur, after arriving in Queenstown to resupply I felt ready to take on the track with new found strength. The rhythm of walking became second nature, talking about what I was doing with people on trail became part of that rhythm and an unexpected drive to push for longer distances started to take hold as bluff came into view.
As I moved through the rural southland landscape into the muddy forest trail then back onto the beaches I felt a sense of familiar of the far North those many months ago. Only my legs were strong, my gear balanced and confidence at an all time high.
On a late sunday afternoon I had completed my journey, the sun was warm, and the sign post was deserted. I had been warned that finishing doesn’t really hit you for a few weeks. But for me the arrival to Bluff wasn’t as significant as the transformation for someone who had read a lot about techniques to make your own gear to someone who had made it. So finishing was great but I felt that I had achieved my goals the week before, the icing on the cake was the chance to share a beer with other TA walkers in Invercargill that night. As always sharing stories about our time on trail and generally laughing about how lucky we were to have had done something not many people had.
My return to Wellington involved a four day hitch (I had always enjoyed hitch hiking) where I reconnected with old friends I never got a chance to see while walking. This ended up being a great way to rehabilitate into the rest of society and get used to how out of place I looked off trail. With final celebrations at my parents house in Wellington, surrounded by friends and family we laughed and ate a lot. There really was no better way to end one of the most physically and mentally difficult things I had ever done in my life.
I do have a lot of people to thank for the support they have given me over my time on the trail but blanket public thanks don’t sit well with me and I will actively be visiting those whom helped so I can thank them in person (this is going to take awhile).
So what next?
It is hard to say, not sure what kind of career choices there are for a guy who can walk forever and make rope out of flax. I think walking three thousand kilometers is a lot easier then finding a job with a cv that lists can make a rock sharp and weaving ugly but practical flax bags as skills and once caught a rabbit by standing on it as greatest achievement. Think I would rather climb a 2000 meter elevation.
As for the blog, I am not done making!! The greatest satisfaction of trying to making the tools of my ancestors is feeling connected to them. Walking their tracks and using their tools really gives you a sense of what the Maori of the past were like in a more tangible way then reading about it in a book. So this blog will continue to share my explorations into making gear and using it (I am still trying to figure out how to sleep sitting up in a rain cape).
In my new life off trail I will be writing, making and walking you can count on that. So if you see and crazy looking bare foot, flax wearing bow man around feel free to say hello.