Walking New Zealand

Finnish poet walking across New Zealand: 10 weeks, 1400 km

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Broken Rib

I have not been posting as much I should, I know. My time has been taken up by the Finnish blog that I write for a newspaper in Finland.

My latest news is that I have had to stop walking. I fell down and broke a rib and cannot carry the bag anymore - or will not as it would not do me any good.

I have started hitch-hiking, instead. The first trip was from Kerikeri up in the north to Auckland. I covered the trip on two rides. The first one was a former tobacco farmer from Rhodesia that works as a baptist pastor in Paihia. Had a nice conversation about Zimbabve and the church.

The second ride was with two hotel managers from Paihia. They took me all the way from Paihia to Auckland. We stopped on the way to have lunch in Whangarei. It was pretty nice to see a reasonably sized city again. The trip continued to the disco beat at speed limit breaking speed and we were in Auckland after four hours from setting off in Paihia.

Nice guys! And nice people everywhere in New Zealand.

I have now spent about two weeks in Auckland, writing, relaxing. My next trip will take me to Naipier which is an art-deco capital of the world. So they say. Sit back for some new postings soon.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


By the Side of the Road from Mangonui to Kahoe

The World Famous Mangonui Fish Shop

Mangonui Hotel, Mangonui

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wednesday 8/11 - Saturday 11/11

Waitiki Landing - Te Kao - Pukenui

After a day's rest, I have enough energy to walk again. There are huge oxen standing on the fields, they stare at me from the distance as I walk. One of them decides to walk by my side on the other side of the fence: a scary creature. I move to the other side of the road.

I meet a man painting the side of a barn: a badly drawn figure coming down a sand dune with a sled. The man asks me whether he should paint the sky, he is trying to figure out how much paint it would take. He says his name is Bushman Pete.

The North is Maori land. The farmers are Maoris, the camping site workers are Maoris. And the hostess of my next lodge is a Maori.

I have walked 25 km when a car pulls up beside me. The man has seen me walking on the road, he is concerned about me. I tell him I am walking to the next shop. How far is it?

It is far away.

He asks me if I want a ride. Now, it is not going to be my policy on this trip to accept rides from people but this time I make an exception. It is getting late and there are no camping places in sight.

It turns out that it is about 10 km to the shop in Te Kao. I pull my rugsack out of the car and thank the man that brought me there.

The shopkeeper is an elderly woman. I ask her if I could put up my tent on her back yard. The woman gives one look at my ragged persona and invites me to sleep inside. There will be nobody sleeping in the lounge.

So the next night I sleep comfortably in the old shopkeeper's lounge. The woman's name is Bonnie, she serves me a wonderful meal of steaks. We watch tv, she is chainsmoking on the sofa, I lie on a mattress on the floor. Her beautifull granddaughters peek at the door, say hello and return to whatever they are doing.

Bonnie tells me the lat Maori Queen was born in the house here we are. She pronounces Maori as "Maodi".

I say goodbye to Bonnie in the morning. The day's walking today, 9/11, will amount to 25 km. Walking feels easier now. I have become stronger.

But then again, the weather does not seem to favour me. The storm wind almost pushes me off the road.

After eight hours I arrive at Pukenui, small town of 1600 people. There is the northernmost pub in NZ here, about 1 km before the centre of Pukenui. I stop there for a beer and then continue to the hostel where I have a bath (fantastic!) and change into something new.

I rest in Pukenui for two days. I am heading onwards again tomorros.

Take care, take a walk.

Tapotupotu - Waitiki Landing

Monday 6/11 - Wednesday 8/11

A day from hell!

I am climbing a mountain road with my backpack on my back. Pebbles of the unsealed road press through the shoes against my soles. The cars and tourist buses raise dust that lingers in the air and gets between my teeth, in my eyes.

I stop on the grass by the roadside. The stepmeter tells me I've only walked 450 meters. It can't be true, it feels as if I've dragged my broken body acroos the desert for hours on end. ( Later I do notice that the stepmeter was wrong after all. My step seems to be longer than I thought.)

I fuel my motor with salted peanuts, drink a litre of water. Far below me I can see The Pacific Ocean glimmering. The green hills look surprisingly tropical with their palm trees and little bushes. I cast a yearning glance at the sea. White crests of waves are crashing on to the beach.

But there is no time to dream. I have to move on. It is 25 km to the next stop. 20 km of it is usealed road.

The biggest problem - one that I haven't put behind me - is the weight of the rugsack. I go through its contents in my mind: a couple of books, electronics (a phone, a camera), tent (1.02 kg), sleeping bag, gas cooker, toiletries.

That is not so much, is it? I suppose ther is only one explanation for the excess weight: food.

I am starting to realize I do not have to carry everything I own with me, like Ovid. I can alway buy more stuf when I run out of it.

I the end it takes six hours to walk the 25 km. I stop on the way four times, for 1,5 hours.

The day started badly, and it is just getting worse towards the end. My shoes are full of stones, I am exhausted. But I can't stop now. It would be too strenuous to lift the bag back on again.

I am waiting for the asphalt like the promised land. I gloat in my mind how I'll take a picture of the place where the asphalt and the dirt road meet: I will have gotten ashore at last.

I arrive at the motel at 7.20 PM. It is called Waitiki Landing. I pitch my tent at the back yard, have a shower, something to eat and go to sleep. The local youths are listening to loud music in the motel bar. My legs are dead.

5/11/06 Cape Reinga Tapotupotu

Standing at the beginning of a dirt road. Behind my back converge the waves of The Tasman Sea and The Pacific Ocean. I leave behind the Cape Reinga lighthouse. I am as far north as is possible for a tourist in New Zealand.

This is the moment of truth. The start. I hold the handles of my walking poles, take the first step. The finish is 1400 km away. How many steps will go into that distance?

Walking feels good, even if I left the rugsack's shoulder straps too loose. The baggage pulls my back backwards. I will have to fix the thing as soon as I take a break.

Walking poles are good to have. I am glad I took them with me. They allow the weight to distribute between my legs and my upper body. Otherwise, I'd feel the weight more on my legs.

And the legs have been my major concern prior to start-off. My left heel has been hurting lately with a stinging pain when stepped on. Let's hope it's nothing serious. I guess I've just worn through my sandals. I can feel the pebbles press against my foot through the sole. There is not enough padding under the heel.

I decide to change into sneakers for the rest of the trip. Definitely.

The first walking day is easy. The trip from Cape Reinga to Tapotupotu camping site takes about an hour. I spend my first night in the tent here! Full moon rises above the Pacific. I take a stroll on the beach taking pictures of the waves, listening to the sea. This is why I set out. I feel good.

In the morning I take down the tent, pack the stuff. Order and orderliness are not in my nature. I have had to learn them.

And yet, without them this trip will not work out. The walker's home is in his rugsack. He has to fit everything in it. He has to find his things when he needs them. And they may not weigh much.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Walking across New Zealand

Hello everybody!

My name is Markus. I am a Finnish poet on my way through New Zealand. My mission is to walk from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the south. The distance is about 1400 km. I reckon it will take me about 10 weeks.

I will be posting here when I get to the internet. I am now in Pukenui in the north. This is the first place where I have access to the internet. The trip has been wonderful but really hard so far. I have walked about 25 km/day from Sunday 6/11. I have now covered about 60 km.

I carry a rugsack with a tent, sleeping bag, clothes and food. The bag is really too heavy, have to find some way to get it lighter.

I'll have to translate some of my writings from Finnish for this blog. Until then, take care and walk on!