So I have been writing about the walk and sadly it has been taken me longer to write about walking then actually walking.
Here is my plan. I will be leaving pieces of my writing here on my blog till the actual book is ready. Probably once a month. Hope you enjoy.
Discovering small universes
As I walked the trail I happened across many small communities. I was always welcomed, and got to partake in some amazing experiences I would never get anywhere else. It made me feel sorry for the people I saw in the buses called Kiwi Experience, little did they know they would find more if they got out and walked.
It had been amazing to meet long distance hikers but I was on a different mission. As I tinkered away with a new design made from bamboo I found by my campsite, I couldn’t help but notice more and more people stream into the camp ground. My odd shelter set up attracted people over to me and after introductions I was to find out that the surf life savers were having their annul get together. The smell of BBQ was alluring and lucky for me they were more then happy to share. Like all the small towns I would come into along my journey, I come to see the similarities and differences in New Zealand culture.
With version two of my pack and the abandonment of a lot of unnecessary equipment everything sat nicer on my back. I walked around the campground awkwardly being watched by locals who were still prepping for their prize giving later in the evening. The soon to be familiar questions were asked and I stumbled though my replies.
“What are you doing?”
“Walking the length of New Zealand using stuff that I made while hunting and gathering”
“Why are you doing it?”
“Seemed like a good idea at the time”
‘Are you crazy?’
I did my best impression of a person at ease in an unfamiliar environment and used making fun of myself to befriend the locals. Most were not so impressed with what I had made so far but they knew how far it was to Cape Reinga so I got brownie points for that. Dinner and beer was handed out and the life guards had at least three generations sitting around their tables. When speeches and prizing givings were under way it started to feel more like a mix of Marae and ruby club. Sea food, laughter, music, kids running around.
Peter Jackson once said “New Zealand is not a small country but a large village”. I was a little taken back by how many people there were. I never imagined the people who sit at the beach in those uniforms to be anything other then kids who knew how to swim. But these guys had history, ritual and community that seemed so big and very welcoming. As I parted with more new friends and a massive hangover the next morning I disappeared into the bush believing I would be greeted warmly if I returned.
Growing up I have always felt like I belonged in New Zealand, by living here my whole life I knew all there was to know about the place. I saw no reason to go to the smaller towns because nothing happened there. But only by being a TA walker did I literally stumble across how diverse this country is, traveling over seas you see how small New Zealand is but only by walking can you see how big it can be. Food, stories and music are common themes that connect our culture as a whole but within small town New Zealand are even smaller universes waiting to be discovered.