Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Kawa Kawa.
 New Zealand 10

Arriving in the small hamlet of Clarence on New Zealands southern island I stopped at a farm for permission to camp. Thankfully, Bridget and her partner Jeff allowed me to camp there and were so keen to hear about my world walk that once I set up my tent I was invited inside for a chat. 
Like most people in the area, the hot topic of conversation is the Kaikoura area earthquake which struck the region in Nov 2016 with enormous damage for it registered as a magnitude of 7.8. The city of Kaikoura was effectively cut off from the rest of the country as the roads had been ripped apart and along with sections of train line fell into the ocean. Astonishingly, there were only two fatalities. Pretty much for a year supplies were airlifted in. Many businesses went to the wall and even Bridget's rafting business took a severe hit as the place she took her clients to which was previously only thirty minutes drive away, and when the road was closed it took over nine hours, so nobody wanted to do that. I was told that many people lost their jobs but the government was pretty good and made social payments to those in need. That hamlet I was in was lifted up four metres. Bridget also mentioned that previously she would have to climb up on a ladder for a beach view from her back window. Now, she has a great ocean view as her whole house has been raised but luckily with only minor damage. The ocean at her back garden is off limits and residents can't swim or even walk on their own beach. According to her friend Karen many people are also suffering from strange illnesses and obviously, the consumption and sale of all seafood are also banned, the ripple through effect and how many peoples livelihoods have been devastated. It seems that the only good thing that has come out if it is that, previously many coastal properties which were ebbing out to sea due to coastal eradication are now protected by the four-metre land lift. Ironically, prior to the earthquake, the government was about to begin a multi-million dollar coastal rescue project. Now that project is not needed! New roads and bridges have been built at an astonishing pace. But as geologists say that the ground is still moving at a rate of four and a half inches per day much of this new infrastructure is constantly being repaired. A new bridge has been repaired four times in a few short months and I have seen cracks on the newly constructed road, please see photos. 
  On a nicer subject Karen, who is of Maori origin spoke excitedly about the natural health benefits of a leaf called Kawa Kawa, aka Macropiper leaf, please see photo. It seems that a tea made from this native New Zealand plant can improve or cure at least 27 known health ailments. These conditions range from sore muscles, colds, flu, cuts, poor circulation, arthritic pains, toothache, rheumatism, insect bites, burns and even anti-tumour properties. The last one had me interested and when I told Karen that my walk has a cancer awareness message she gave me permission to write the following:
"My son who is only in his forties was diagnosed with testicular cancer and was given just months to live. He went and had just one chemotherapy. I knew it wasn't going to do him much good, So I made him up some Kaya Kaya tea and eventually he was cured. The doctors were speechless and wanted to know what it was that I gave him to drink. Several years later after being told he had only a few months to live he is still alive. He is a rascal but I love him to bits!" Said, Karen, with a big smile. 
"And just one more thing Tony, How old do you think I am?" 
I told her that I had no idea and with another huge grin, she said.
"I'm 68, for Kawa Kawa also has anti-ageing properties." 
I'm told that it can be bought in a tea form in health shops and I have even seen it in a supermarket. 
Please check out this astonishing link

  Next day, January 4th I heard the weather was about to change for the worse with a rainstorm lasting up to 36 hours. As if that wasn't bad enough, gale force winds were expected to hit 130 kilometres an hour. It was time to get off the road and find a place to shelter. After a nineteen kilometre stride in which I even passed grazing llamas, I arrived at a restaurant called The Stone in the hamlet of Kekerengu. I asked the owner if I could camp in a sheltered area at the north side of the restaurant as the storm was blowing from the south. Thankfully, he allowed me to. It rained all night and it finally stooped at 11 am. I guess I could have walked that day as the 36-hour pelting only turned out to be a mere 14 hours long. However, I had already settled into my rest day mode. Instead, I just took it easy, caught up on some writing and made friends with two young Aussie staff members called Harlan the chef and his partner Star. They are travellers themselves for they met while backpacking through Turkey, so I'm sure they saw helping me as repaying karma. I was so grateful when they gave me a delicious dinner and breakfast the following morning as the restaurant was closed due to the little custom as the highway was also closed. Obviously, the highway was closed for safety reasons as heavy rains often wash loose earthquake debris from the mountains and onto the road.
It was also the first rain that my new tent had to withstand and it passed with flying colours. I love it as it weighs just over a kilo and takes only about seven mins to erect and has a nice outside vestibule area where I can store my pack and smelly boots.



Adventurer Tony Mangan Shares How to Run and Walk Around the World


Adventurer Tony Mangan Shares How to Run and Walk Around the World


Tony Mangan is extreme. Not only have he cycled around the world. He has also run around the world – and now he is walking around the world!

In this interview, he shares why he is finally living his dream, so let’s find out more about Tony and learn from his tips on how to run and walk around the world.



Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Tony Mangan. I was born and raise in Dublin, Ireland but also lived in the USA for eight years from 1994-2002 in Colorado, except for nine months in Florida.

At the moment, I have just crossed the Nullarbor desert plain, a 1,000 kilometer stretch from Norseman to Yalata in Australia. I am walking east towards Sydney.

I have also cycled around the world, so cycling has been a big part of my life. I also have a great love for rugby and soccer. My main interests are good conversations, rock and heavy metal music, especially live. Also, quality podcasts, like those made by the BBC.



How did you get into long-distance walking and running?

I initially got caught up in the running boom in the mid 80’s in Ireland by running a 10 km. The Dublin marathon was five weeks later as running a marathon was on my ‘bucket list’ to run one and never run another marathon again. I just entered, little did I know that years later I would be running them daily! But before that, I got bitten by the extreme bug when I lived in Colorado.

While running in Dublin during a high endorphin run, I devised the idea of a world run but didn’t act upon it for over twenty years.

While thinking of running the world I didn’t see how I could achieve it logistically. That was many years before modern equipment. It just seemed easier to throw my stuff in a cart and walk. It never occurred to me to run with a cart. There were a few years when I flip flopped between my plan A to run and my plan B to walk. Eventually, I found a way to run it. I wrote two books, which are not yet published. When realized I wanted to return to the road I decided that my old plan B would be a great idea, that’s where I am at the moment!

On the world walk, I am walking also for cancer awareness as my mother was diagnosed with it while I was on the world run. She had been healthy and it came out of the blue. She wouldn’t let me stop. So I decided to make it a cancer awareness walk. My message is: Life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives. I am heartened by the emails I have received from people who tell me they listened to my message and nasty things were discovered in the nick of time.



During your walk and run around the world, what were your most memorable moments?

It’s always with people interactions, there are so many. Like an old lady in Illinois who drove home and then returned to the highway to give me a bunch of grapes. Or the man who stopped me to offer me a half bottle of water in a remote area of Patagonia. Even though I had enough and there was a rare restaurant in sight, I didn’t refuse his kind offer, so as not to burst his bubble. Also, so many nights spent in Mongolian yurts, and under police escort in Mexico and Myanmar also stand out.

My favorite countries are the USA and Iran because I received so much hospitality and had amazing encounters with people. But I could name off a dozen including Argentina and China.
Photo credit: TomΓ‘Ε‘ Rusek

What have been the most difficult parts of your adventures?

While running through India on the world run my mother was sick. It was a particularly difficult country as I needed time on my own. This has always been respected when requested in any other country in the world, but India is different. It’s said that with India there is no in between for people either love it or hate it.

Along with so much uncivilized driving where people were literally driving for the place on the hard shoulder that I was running on. There were days when I had to run with a plastic baton in my hand and give people on bicycles and motor cycles my best Dirty Harry look! A few of them ran into my baton. My Van Halen days were over, for I don’t ‘Jump’ for anyone anymore!



What essential gear did you bring?

I keep it simple but you get what you pay for. My best friend is a hundred euro two litre thermos for it literally opens doors, which sometimes lead to bed nights. If I am getting a good reception in a restaurant, I get it filled and use my own tea bags or coffee. Paying for this everyday is such a waste, just do the math for this unnecessary expense over a thousand days!

I am also a great believer in pop up tents as I hate the hassle of erecting and packing up. They are not too reliable in a storm, but I say avoid storms and use with a bivy (bivouac shelter).

My equipment sponsor is a Dublin camping store, called Great Outdoors.



How did you finance your adventures?

On the world run, I had a redundancy cheque for nine thousand euro from my old construction job after I applied for voluntary redundancy. I also had small savings.

On my world run, I also got generous sponsorship from Richard Donovan, my friend, an Irish ultra runner and race director of many of the world most extreme races. These races include the North Pole Marathon and the World Marathon Challenge, which is a seven marathons in seven days on seven continents running event.

I also depended upon a PayPal link for my followers to sponsor a day or a hotel night on my world run website

For my world walk, I have absolutely no sponsors so this is a more hard-core budget expedition. I also have a PayPal sponsor a day, etc. link on my world walk website.Photo credit: Siobhan Clifford

What kind of shoes and clothing do you recommend for long-distance walking and running?

I am always asked, which shoes are the best as I have tried them all, except for the four letter one that is! The answer is the easiest one to answer: Free shoes are the best.

How do you beat boredom and loneliness on the road?

I am rarely get bored or lonely, if so I listen to podcasts or music.Photo credit: TomΓ‘Ε‘ Rusek

Which is harder: Running or walking around the world?

I would choose running as there is nothing more tiring than having to run tired. I was also injured for the last year of my world run and limped to a finish. After those 50,000 kilometers in four years, it took its toll. I didn’t recover from that left leg injury but it’s still strong enough for me to walk around the world. Besides, runner hate to walk, it seems to be a pride thing. Walking takes less toll than running on ones body.Photo credit: Sputnik

What inspired you to write your book?

Once I started the run, I had to write the books! My followers expected it! I have so much material that I wrote two, for it would be a shame to cut some stuff out!

Part one of the book, “The Irishman Who Ran Around the World. Part 1: The Start and All of the Americas” covers from Newfoundland in Canada to Ushuaia in southern Argentina at the foot of the Americas. It describes my background from sports wimp who never lacked confidence despite being bullied in school. I took on the bullies and eventually beat them all up at their own game. So much so, that the teachers falsely considered me to be the trouble maker!

I went from there to cycling around the world, winning some prestigious ultra races, setting ultra world records and becoming the first runner in history to run two consecutive days of over two hundred kilometers per day (223 and 203).

While part two will be about my crossing across Oceania, Asia, Europe and a lap of Ireland to the finish, where it all began, at the finish line of my city marathon. My final footstep was exactly 50,000 kilometers and not a meter more, as one person said, “Anymore would have been showing off Tony!”

The best part of writing was the end where my mother outlived her cancer prognosis and crossed the finish line with me. She lived for another five months.

The hardest part, on the other hand, was writing the India chapter, it was so difficult that I had to take a week off!



What kind of advice would you give people who want to follow your footsteps?

Listen to those who have done it before. There is now a template. When I was planning mine there wasn’t much. Don’t wait too long, just get out onto the road and do it. Unless you are going for a record and are not injured you don’t need to be even fit as you will soon run, walk or cycle yourself fit! There is plenty of time for that, so don’t worry about letting your training slip in the final months. Consider a short trial run. Don’t over plan as you can do much of that on the road. Pace yourself on the road for comfortable weather as possible.

It’s never too late as long as you are breathing! Start with your dreams and not your circumstances.



Is there something you see a lot of long-distance walkers/runners do wrong?

Poor route decisions. Not connecting continents up correctly. Making spurious and sometimes false claims like ignoring those who have achieved before them.

A world circumnavigation on foot is defined as crossing at least 4 continents coast to coast on foot with no land gaps.

Crossing and recrossing the equator and all meridian lines around our planet. Starting and finishing at exactly the same location and covering a distance of no less than 26,232 kilometres. Keeping a detailed log book and proper documentation.

The WRA – World Runners Association has been set up and rules have been drafted to maintain the integrity of the sport. Though initially set up for world runners we act as a guideline for world walkers. One rule I campaigned for is that a maximum of 25% of the total expedition time taken off the road for breaks and rest days. I tried in vain to get the minimum distance raised to 30,000 kilometres.

How did the long-distance walking and running change you as a person?

It’s a cliche but I really appreciate western freedom and even the infrastructure we have. I have seen villages in India with no electricity because of so much corruption factories pay bribes to get the limited supply from limited power stations. The knock on effect of this is that there are many children who can’t do homework because of a lack of electricity.

Also, even though I hate the taste of it, I will always appreciate clean healthy water, as many people in this world don’t have access to it.



What will the future bring?

I have one short idea, which I don’t believe has been attempted! I want to keep it quiet but it can be done in less than three months, in comparison to what I have done, it will be like travelling Rolls Royce style, lol!

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

My girlfriend of 43 years.
New Zealand 9
 

New Years Eve I walked a business like 35 kilometres along New Zealand's route one highway. People were still on the move for the holiday season, for me it was a bit strange to see so much camper van activity as back in Ireland festive season traffic is usually light between Christmas and the New Year. Not to mention that the weather that day was a pleasant 25C. Arriving in Cheviot I stopped at the M&M takeaway just before they closed their doors to 2017. I was their last customer of the year and perhaps their strangest! So I ate my blue cod and chips dinner sitting on a park bench. I could have done with a fun night and some live music but not much was happening in Cheviot that night. On I rambled to the Cheviot Trust Hotel, a sports bar where about ten locals were gathered and I had a nice evening socialising, having a couple of drinks and engaging in all the usual small chit chat. A few people drifted home just before midnight, so all that was left was me and a few staff members shooting pool. It was just like any ordinary bar night, and had I went into toilet and missed the short round of 'Happy New Year' shouts and then came out a few minutes later it wouldn't have seemed like a new year, for such things are pretty subdued here.
Still I enjoyed my evening and my stay in the pretty town of Cheviot and was delighted when Trina the hotel manager gave me a hotel bed for the night πŸ˜ƒ
  Thankfully, the supermarket was open in the morning and I was able to stock up with snacks for the road. I paused outside The Tea Shop cafe to ask a waitress who was busy pulling down a parasol if she could fill up my thermos mug which contained a packet of noodles with boiling water. A few minutes later I was inside drinking a complimentary cappuccino. That day I walked 32 kilometres and spent my New Years night under canvas at a roadside rest area. There was an SUV parked beside me, I was a little apprehensive about stopping there first but in the end i just pitched my tent. In the morning I was greeted with a cheery smile from Karel and Monika, his wife. They were a young couple from the Chech Rep and were touring New Zealand in a hired vehicle. They though I was a park ranger for freedom camping, as its called here is only allowed in designated areas and even then only with a certified camper van which has a toilet. Yes, this is the only drawback in New Zealand is that its not as camper friendly as Australia and doesn't have as good roadside facilities with toilets and even hot plate barbeque facilities as so many places have in Oz. 
Karel and Monika's vehicle was equipped with a cooker so I was delighted when they boiled up water for my coffee, instant oatmeal and noodles for the road. It was time to move on for the sand flies were biting hard. 
Further on up the road I got talking to a strange Irish motorcyclist whose name and place of birth I will withhold for he is only the third man in almost six years of my travels (between my global run and walk) who refused a photo. Before I asked for the photo we had an interesting chat as he has lived here for about twenty years. We spoke about the Kaikoura November 2016 earthquake which hit the region and registered a 7.8 magnitude. 

 The other two male photo refusals were in a certain country while I was allowed to sleep in a police station. After I returned from a shower I noticed that a substantial amount of dollars were missing from my bag when i returned. As I had no proof and I would probably not recover the money I didn't say anything. However, there was one officer I suspected and my suspicions were confirmed when he was the only officer in the police station who refused to have his photo taken.
The second incident was while running in the Bolivian altiplano area and I stopped for water at a small farm. I stopped to chat for a while to the man there and along I felt he was a pretty shady character. In my experience its rare for a man to refuse a photo, countless women do!
I walked on towards Goose Bay where much to my horror I was told that due to unstable cliff movements in the aftermath of the quake that an eight kilometre section as far as Peketa was closed to pedestrians. I ignored the request from a road traffic control vehicle to get into her car for even though New Zealand is "extra walking" onto this continent which was technically completed when I got to Bondi beach in Sydney, I still want it to be an unbroken path. After she drove on I ran through Raramai tunnel and then down to the ocean and was rewarded by an amazing close up encounter with about ten seals and their pups (please see my recent video) Fearlessly I shot a video and later I was surprised to learn that seals often attack with a ferocious bite if one gets too close. Especially, had I gotten between them and the ocean and obviously anywhere near their pups.
I walked on and along some large rocks and boulders for a while until I came into an exposed section of the road and was spotted by the road traffic controller. As the road closes at 8.30pm and it gets dark around ten I had considered hiding and waiting the three hours until dark. In the end I wouldn't have made it as the rocky beach ran out as the ocean smacked against a cliff wall. Nor would I have gotten far as there was a single lane road. In the daytime I was told that this was a stop and go one way area; not because of lack of road but because the road was so unstable that it couldn't support two way traffic. I also noticed frequent cameras and was later told that the cameras were monitored looking for offenders and they were so powerful that they could see the blackheads on ones face. When I was told that had I not gotten off the road that the police would be called I had no option to get into the road traffic controllers vehicle and be escorted to the end of their zone in Peketa. * NB: Later I was informed by the WRA World Runners Association that this infraction is deemed as 'no mans land.' Please see more detailed information at the foot if this post.

  From there I walked on and past Kaikoura regional airport and stopped for the day at a rest area about an hours walk before the city. I chose the best piece of grass to pitch my tent on which was beside a plush motor home owned by a friendly retired couple from a nearby city called Blenheim. I introduced myself by just asking Richard and Claudie for some boiling water for my noodles and soon I was invited inside to enjoy my snack which was supplemented with tea, Christmas cake and fruit. Richard like to tease people by introducing his wife as his girlfriend of 43 years! Apparently, people usually pick him up on it and ask him why he never married her! Of course he did he just loved teasing the boss! He had worked as a mechanic for the New Zealand defence forces in Singapore and spoke more about the huge humanitarian aid which New Zealand received from the Australian and American navies. It was challenging as the port had raised up fourteen metres so it was a bit challenging for ships to navigate. Much of the aid drooping was done by the Americas who flew it from ships to Kaikoura. (Perhaps Richard can kindly elaborate more in a comment to this post as to which type of aircraft and vessel and any other pertinent information please?)
 Then in the morning my new friends invited me back inside their motorhome for breakfast and another great chat and an invite to stay with them when I get to Blenheim.

NB: Later I was informed by the WRA World Runners Association that this infraction is deemed as 'no mans land.'
The WRA monitors ongoing attempts and provides the most credible rules for adventurers who want to circumnavigate the globe honestly and on foot. In addition they will have a huge experience pool and advice is only an email away. They are more credible and demanding than any other set of rules as the WRA rules were set by and agreed by circumnavagitars with experience and not by an entertainment records manual. Those attempting an around the world foot adventure are advised to contact the WRA.
  No mans land means an area which is barred for the foot traveller and cannot be traversed legally. Such gaps may also occur between sensitive border crossings between countries with historic conflicting issues. For more info on the WRA and the rules please see 
https://worldrunnersassociation.org/constitution/
" Wading across the Ashley River. " 
New Zealand 8

Walking north of Prebbelton I managed to avoid Christchurch, the south islands main city. However, I had to weave my path through built-up suburbs and at one stage I walked several kilometres on glorious trails and through a forest. Eventually, I pitched my tent on a scrubland near Kaiapoi Lake having covered a tough 37 kilometres that day.
Next day, I walked a simar distance to Waipara but it was not without incident. I was walking across a bridge on the Ashley river when a cop pulled up and told me to get into his patrol car. The bridge was about 350 metres long and I only had about 150 left. Traffic was pretty heavy and he said that I needed to get off the bridge as I was holding up the traffic coming from behind. So what, I thought and when I asked him if I could run the remaining short distance in front of his patrol car he shouted out.
"Get in the car now or I will lock you up!"
So, I did but I also asked to be taken back to the other side from where I had come from as I wanted to wade across the river. 
Luckily the river level was low and after walking around a few areas of shallow water all I needed to do was to walk across one area, about four metres wide which was barely above my ankles. I left my boots on as I was concerned about slipping while wearing my seven-kilo backpack. I guess one of the reasons the water level was low is because many people have informed me that New Zealand is in a drought which has lasted three years. A few kilometres further on I came to another bridge and was thanking my lucky stars that it wasn't that one that the cop had pulled me off as it was a pretty deep river. Had that happened I would have thumbed a lift back, pitched my tent and walked across at about three in the morning when the highway was pretty much deserted. I walked long and late and walked past farms that sold pony poo and even worm tea. As much as I like my tea I'm not that brave! I guess it has some medicinal benefit. I was also stopped by a lovely Australian couple who were holidaying with their two children. Apparently, they heard a radio interview I gave in Sydney and have been following me on my website ever since, and I had no idea. When they booked this holiday they knew I was on the south island and were even hoping to meet me! The reason I walked late that day was that I had a minor concern about another bridge near Waipara. I also wanted to put as much distance between myself and the cop I had the problem with earlier. In the end, I crossed that bridge and only met one car just as I exited it and skipped my way onto the hard shoulder. 
 Many of my days are slow as I stop for frequent rests as I become weary of lugging my heavy backpack. I know some people may consider the weight I am carrying to be insignificant. Not me, my body is pretty much beaten up with almost seventy thousand combined kilometres from my world run and now this world walk. Every night when I take my boots off my right foot feels as if it's broken. I struggle to stand up and eventually manage to crawl and prise myself up by shifting my weight onto my weak left knee. I wonder if my slow departure onto the road each morning is subconscious, almost as though my body needs to delay my start for an hour or two, a kind of a warm-up as I move around wasting time and vital early daylight. 
That night when I arrived in Waipara I walked down the main street which ran parallel to the highway. I zoomed into Maps.me, my offline map and noticed a parking area further on into the village. 
At that time the village was lifeless so I just pitched my tent in some rough grass. In the morning I spotted what looked like a cafe and when I went over a woman called Susan came out to open up the Torlesse Wines tasting shop. It turned out that she was originally from Mullinavat in County Kilkenny, Ireland and came over here 32 years ago. Tourists were starting to steam in and I spoke to a couple from Canada and a Japanese woman. I would have liked to have chatted with Susan and Maggie the manager but they were so busy. So after a coffee, hot water in my thermos mug for my lunchtime noodles and a complimentary bottle of Torlesse red wine, I headed off down another backroad called Church road where I completed my breakfast by eating my fill from a wild cherry-plum tree. 
By this stage, it was almost one o'clock and I found my 21 kilometres to Greta Valley to be pretty demanding for it was a hot and humid day, about 24C. On humid days I usually have chaffing problems with my underpants, a tube of Vaseline would be a smart idea! On the way, I stopped at a farmhouse for water. Soon, Lynn, had me sitting down to a welcome coffee and by the time I had left he told me that I had motivated him to row across an ocean in a rowing boat πŸ˜‚

  The following day was New Year's Eve and it was a further 35 kilometres to Cheviot. So when I saw a sign etched out in the mountain that refreshments were just four kilometres away, it made sense to stop early in Greta Valley that night. Inside the Greta Valley Tavern, I got a nice welcome from the owner, a friendly man called "Bones." Though the kitchen was closed I was grateful when the cook fired up the chip pan and also gave me a generous portion of fish for I was ravenous. I got talking to an English traveller who seemed to be driving around the world by either renting or buying vehicles. Needless to say, he was getting a bit concerned about how expensive his adventures were costing him! So I planted a world cycle seed in his head which he seemed to be considering! He had also checked into the local campsite and even though this one was cheap by New Zealand standards, to my mind it was a waste of twelve dollars as I would rather have a good feed of fish n chips to a patch of grass. I'm never in a hurry into a campground, I prefer to see what turned up, and for me so much does! 
And just as I was finishing up my meal Bones aka Mike Evans came over and first offered to allow me to camp at the back of his tavern, and then changed his mind and suggested that I with deep with the children trampoline for it was going to be a starry night and it would surely make a comfortable mattress.
 Just then a local called Gabe invited me to stay at his hippy-type den. A couple of years before he had bought an old truck stop business in a disused barn and then through ingenuity added a series of insulated lean-to sheds. Spacious and artistically decorated and with as much recycling and composting as possible for I was told that even my shaved off hair from the haircut he gave me would be thrown into this composter! Gabe called this: haircut 2,000 kilometres for that's roughly the distance u have walked since my last haircut. The word is hit to any future hosts of mine that I begrudge paying 20-30 dollars for a haircut. If you got the skills I'm 'heading' your way, lol πŸ˜ƒ
19,133 kilometres walked for 520 road days.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Christmas in New Zealand and meeting the tallest man

 Christmas in New Zealand and meeting the tallest man.

Here is a more detailed report on a couple of posts that I previously wrote about briefly. Some of these photos you may have seen before. Sorry for any typos, its almost 2am.

The eve of Christmas Eve I was only about two kilometers out of Rakaia when I came to New Zealand's longest bridge. The Rakaia bridge spans  1.75 kilometers across a river of the same name. It was the last shopping day before Christmas and less than 60 to the south islands principle city traffic was intense. Many of New Zealand's roads are pretty tight; probably less than a meter but believe me that makes a big difference. In addition, there are dozens of tight bridges. That's the reason I elected to walk the country with a backpack and left Karma, my cart back in Australia. Walking across the Rakaia was a nightmare. Crossing the bridge I whenever there was a gap in oncoming traffic I sprinted as fast as I could and as oncoming traffic approached I waved just to inform them of my presence. There was no footpath, just a narrow ledge which would have been too dangerous to walk on for a stumble could be fatal and I was not ready to be edited from the gene pool of humanity. As always, the real danger wasn't the approaching vehicle but all those following behind that leading vehicle as they had less advance notice of my presence. Much of my time was spent standing on the ledge, about dinner plate-width and squeezing myself against the hand rail which I gripped securely as cars and trucks whizzed by me with less than a metre clearance. I also had ensure that my pack didn't stick out towards passing traffic and ensured all straps were secured just in case a loose strap snagged onto a passing vehicle. 
Eventually, I got to the end of the bridge and was a bit peeved when I saw another one looming in the distance. 
I zoomed in on Maps.me on my smart phone and discovered that there were back roads which were actually two kilometers shorter distance to Christchurch, so it was a nobrainer to leave National Route 1 and walk on the little traveled roads on North Rakaia Road which soon led to a dusty gravel road called Rakaia - Selwyn Road. 
   A couple of hours later I had walked the 19,000 kilometre of my global march. A couple of weeks an Irish man called Paddy Mc Gowan had emailed to offer assistance. I texted him to say that I was getting close to Christchurch. By a stroke of luck he had to go to Ashburton with Astrid, his girlfriend to pick up a David Attenborough book for a Christmas present for her grandad. For my 19 thousand effort he rewarded me with a packet of Tayto crisps and we did a bit of a jig on the road. Also present was Kim, their friend, so I took my lunch and enjoyed a nice chat. We arranged to meet on the road on their way back from  Ashburton and they relieved me of my pack for the rest of the afternoon.
A little later I was walking alongside a long sheltering hedge. Some of these hedges are massive. Often four or five metres high and are used to block out heavy winds and also have a secondary benefit of providing shelter from the sun for cows and sheep. As I approached the entrance of a house which was fronted by one of these large hedges, a man called Tiny who was busy hosing some flowers stopped me for a chat. Soon I was invited inside for a cup of tea with him and Barbara his wife. Eying a delicious piece of Christmas cake Tiny said " You can have it but we are not liable for your teeth!" 
They spoke about a fire which was off to the left of where I was walking towards. Hopefully, I won't be sent back and will be able to walk around it

A little later Paddy, Astrid and Kim came back to meet me on the road. I marked my spot at a junction called Main Road, 22 kilometers were walked and they commute me to Christchurch, 35kms away. I will return to my route after Christmas as they offered to commute me to the city. Astrid is the manager of a plush five star chain hotel called The Heritage. Its an old government building which has been rebuilt into an award-winning five-star hotel. Next thing I know I'm feeling a bit like that hobo who gets looked after for Christmas in the Hollywood movie! She arranged a complimentary night in a swanky suite fit for a rock star.  
That night we were all invited over to Astrid's mothers house for a delicious curry dinner over which lots of wine were consumed.
Next day, Christmas Eve. 
I walked the four kilometers over to Valmai Horlor's house. She is a good friend of many years and I was invited to stay with her for Christmas. Valmai is a great humanitarian and in her lifetime has fostered about 45 children. Many photos of these children adorn the walls of her home alongside community service and volunteering award certificates of appreciation.  We had a delicious Christmas dinner which is always an open door to anyone in need and also to members of her church. Phil, her special friend cooked various meats on the hot barbeque grill and had about 20 guests over for the day. I enjoyed my three night stay and we had many great catch up chats. I also stayed with her when I was here in 2013 on my world run. 
December 27th, Phil drops me back to my pre Christmas location. I had also gotten an invitation to stay the night at the home of Lianna Fitzsimons in Prebbleton. She is the niece of one of my long time supporters Aodhagan Fitzsimons so we dropped my backpack at her house that morning. That day was  a nice handy 27 kilometers after my Christmas break and once again it was almost all on quiet backroads.
Arriving at LΓ­anna and her partner Kahu's house in this small Canterbury village I laughed when I noticed an irish bar called Finnigans! 
Kahu was born in Australia but considers himself more of Kiwi as he moved here aged five and embraces his Maouri heritage. Lianna moved here with her mother from Co. Monaghan, Ireland when she was 16. A few years later her mother returned to Ireland but Lianna loved it here so much that she stayed on and now works as a primary school teacher. 
Suddenly she said to me that Ron Bax, New Zealand's tallest man lives next door. So I just had to pop over for a chat with the man who still dwarfs the worlds tallest man by 20 cms. 
He is a man with a great sense of humor and we had a great laugh. I wasn't sure if he liked me asking him if he played basket ball for his reply was. "So do you play mini golf?"
Not sure what he meant so when I asked him he said. "Because you are closer to the ground than me!"
 If you want to read a newspaper article about the big man please press: 

 It certainly was an interesting day as my hosts housemate is a man from Colorado, a place I lived in from 1994-2002 and loved it to bits!  Steve Karas, is an American rugby player with a big future who plays both hooker and prop positions. With the help of Kahu he found a job and NZ residency requirements so as he can improve his rugby skills by playing in a local rugby league. 

Timura to Rakaia

On the way out of Timura, I stopped at the racetrack to see a monument of Phar Lap, a world-class locally-born racehorse from the 1920's and early '30s. A prolific winner who broke some records which still stand today. Most of Phar Lap's races were in Australia and big wins included the iconic Melbourne Cup. The horse was so strong that it was seriously handicapped, as much as 65 kilos which equate to the weight of an extra rider; and still, it won. Towards the end of its career Phar Lap won a race in Mexico and when it raced in the USA it was reported that bookmakers and the criminal underground were so concerned they would lose heavily that they ordered its death. After an unsuccessful shooting attempt, Phar Lap suffered a mysterious illness and allegedly was poisoned. An autopsy showed traces of arsenic and a heart double the size of other racehorses.
Then, I walked on and finished at Graham Taylors in Temuka. Graham is a motor racing friend of my mate Brian Railton who you may remember helping me for a few days at the start of my New Zealand route. That night we had a great chat. 
 Next day, I hoofed it 40 kilometres. The traffic was pretty intense. I assumed it was because I was getting closer to Christchurch, the south islands main city. However, I did read in a local newspaper that fatalities are up threefold this year and I was told that there is more volume on the roads. I had wondered about this as it wasn't this busy when I was running through here in Feb 2013 on my world run. One place that I did stop at on that run was at the Chequered Flag Cafe & Bar in Rangitata. Owned by serious Harley Davidson fans, a Dutchman called Cor and Helen his English wife. When I stopped here all those years ago they gave me a bed for the night. This time I didn't even recognise the place when going past but once inside I remembered everything. It was though I never left for our memories came flooding back. I was fortunate that I decided to stop for a coffee as tomorrow, will be their last day in business for they are retiring after eleven years in business.  

Then I walked on for another four hours. For long periods I walked on a grassy verge instead of the hard shoulder as the traffic continued to be heavy. 
After checking my map I realised that a gravel road ran parallel to the highway and in that final hour to Hinds, not a single vehicle passed me. Stopping at the Wayside Inn for a plate of chips and fish bites I got talking to a friendly bar woman called Amy. She phoned Theresa, the kind-hearted owner who gave me a cabin for the night. The Kiwis are such wonderful people.
Next morning, Theresa's daughter Rochelle mentioned that she was driving to Christchurch and would be able to drop my backpack at the Mobile petrol station in Rakaia and that would save me lugging it 46 kilometres. 
It was a most enjoyable day and I got chatting to Santa Claus, a man called Anthony who was having the time of his life riding his electric bike around Ashburtin. 
I eventually finished at 9:30 pm after an eleven hour, 46 km day from Hinds to Rakaia. 
Stopping in the South Rakaia Hotel my luck was still in when Peter, the kind owner generously gave me a room for the night. πŸ˜€
  Tomorrow, December 23rd I will be at Christchurch City limits. And on the way, I will walk my 19.000 the kilometre. Please remember my world walk message: that life is precious and early cancer screening saves

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Life is so tough when you are locked into the hotel bar πŸ˜‚                          20-12-2017

A tough 40 kilometres took me to a hamlet called Studholme. On the way, I passed a major milestone, the 45th parallel, halfway between the South Pole and the Equator. I would have to find a way to celebrate that night!
Looking for a place to camp in Studholme I asked the security guard of the Fonterra milk processing plant if I could pitch my tent on a nearby patch of grass. Instead, he pointed me down a laneway towards The Studholme Hotel.

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When I said I might stop in there for a plate of chips he obliged by ringing on ahead for me. I was greeted at the door by Sarah, the duty manager. What transpired was nothing short of amazing. My bangers 'n' mash dinner was on the house. Just before she locked up and went home she gave me a key to a hotel room. She had phoned Sam, the owner who invited me to stay a couple more nights. I could launder my clothes and I had a great time for the three nights I was locked in there lol!  I was told to help myself to whatever drinks in the bar that I wanted! Locked in a bar for three nights. πŸ˜‚ Well, I'm not much of a drinker, even still this was amazing hospitality.

  Previously, the hotel was owned by the same Russian company that used to own the dairy plant. I was told that every few years that the owners had to get certificates of compliance that they weren't making too much noise and a nuisance of themselves to neighbours. To avoid hassle the Russians just bought up all of the surrounding properties near the plant. It's been refurbished and the rich wallpaper classic style fittings and antique furniture make the hotel a truly boutique-style country pub. 
On Monday I walked 21 kilometres without my baggage and then I thumbed my way back to the hotel. The driver was a Russian who has been living here for 17 years and before that, he lived in Germany. He mentioned (what many Russians told me when I was there) that much to the contrary to what many people believe, that Russians have always been free to leave their country. Even during hard-line communist times. However, he plans to go back to take up a land allotment scheme where the Russian government offers people free land in areas that they want to populate, like in Siberia.
Back at the hotel, Sam had a delicious lamb shank dinner waiting for me. Thanks so much to him for his wonderful kindness.
He chatted about his other business. He also runs a couple of trips per year where groups of about 15 couples get their kicks driving Mustangs across the historic American Route 66 highway πŸ˜… See www.gilligansroute66.com Image may contain: outdoor

Tuesday, once again I thumbed a ride out to where I finished the day before. This time with a man called Rory Foley. His company raises money for a cancer charity. They have a unique approach to scaring people with their company called 'Fear NZ' Impressive Events. They put on a range of haunting games and shows. So I tramped out just under 20 kilometres as far as Timaru and thumbed my way back to the Studholme Hotel.

Monday, December 18, 2017

"A bit of deja vu and a question answered."




It's almost 19,000 kilometres and 22 months since I left Ireland to walk around the world. New Zealand is the first part of my world walk route which I took on my world run route. Back in February 2013 I was running along this same road that I am now walking on. Then, I was running south, now as I walk north I can't help looking across the road and reflecting that I actually ran along there before. 

 Thanks to David Brankley for his excellent question. David wants to know how a world run day compares to a world walk day with some pointers to my speed, distance,  logistics, wear and tear to my body?
Well the distances are definitely down on the walk. On the run I averaged around 43.3 kilometres per road day. Now it's about 37. However, my current average is about 30 and i expect it to stay there. The only reason it's at 37 is because I put in a massive effort coming across Russia when I took full advantage of the northern hemispheres long summer evenings and walked late into the evening and often into the early morning. The reason for that was to get through Mongolia before the onset of their harsh winter. That took me nice and neatly to Australia in April, an ideal time to cross the Nullarbor plains. On the run my pace started at about 9 kms per hour and slowed down to around six near the end. I know some people may not.consider that running and there are often debates on forums as to what pace equates to walking and what is running. Naturally, I won't allow anyone to tell me that my six kms an hour wasn't running! It depends on what you are doing and what preceded it. I was even paced into Dublin by my sister who is a smoker lol πŸ˜… Thanks Ann! That was chronic fatigue which I had been battling with for about two years! 
On the world run I had a date set in stone : 27 October 2014, as I wanted to finish where I started, with my city marathon, which obviously only comes around once a year. Now, I don't have that pressure as I don't have a finishing date in mind. I can walk as little or as many kms as I want to on any given day, and take more rest days if I want to. I am living in the moment. On my run I was focused on a date ahead, so I guess I was living in the future. 
On my world run which comprised of 50,000 kilometres I pushed my gear in a cart (which I called Nirvana) about 30% of the expedition. Crew support, Police escorts in Mexico and Burma/Myanmar totalled about 20% The other 50% of the time I ran with just a backpack which mostly weighed around a couple of kilograms. That was in the cheaper poorer countries where I ran from cheap hotels to squalor dollar hotels and even did a lot of commuting on mini buses where I always returned from these places of rest to my previous days finish location.
On this world walk I have walked about 16,500 pushing my gear in Karma my cart. The other 2,500 I was supported by Michael Gillian in Australia and other people on short stretches. 
  My body is pretty sore now. It never really recovered in the 16 months between the end if the world run and the start of thus world walk. My left leg is pretty weak. To demonstrate I can hop on my left leg for a prolonged period of time but on my right I have to stop almost immediately. Am I worried I will not get to the finish line? No, not in the least as I am pacing myself and know I will be okay. Incidentally, a few months before I began I was checked out by an orthopaedic specialist and the result was that my ultra distance days of cycling, running and walking were over. I'm glad I didn't listen too closely.  No I wasn't going to give up on my dream. I encourage everyone never to give up on your dreams, just go back asleep
πŸ˜‚
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Sunday, December 17, 2017

My world walk blog new Zealand 3

Date: 16 Dec 2017 22:00

Friday 37 kms I arrived in Maheno, on New Zealand's picturesque south island. 
Thanks to my kind hosts Neil and Sandy for a lovely time πŸ˜… 
I stopped to ask permission  to camp on a patch of grass beside their house. Neil response was: "You can if you prefer that to a bed inside with a shower, a feed and someone to do your laundry!" 
Neil went out to the garden to pick some fresh lettuce for my dinner. Today, Saturday Neil has offered to take my pack 16 kms ahead to Oamaru! 
While chilling out I was so impressed by their local radio station called Brian Fm that I downloaded the app. Its constant classic rock with almost no talk for 24 hours. Check it out, it's great πŸ˜…
I expect to spend Christmas in Christchurch.
During these last few days I have passed by many world war one memorials. Its always especially so sad when I come to a village and see one where two brothers lives were taken in the war. 
Thanks also to the many kind people who stopped on the road to check on me πŸ˜€

A short day today as I mentioned in my last post that Neil, the man I stayed with the previous night delivered my backpack to his brother Jeff in Oamaru  for me to pick up.  

It was a pleasant stroll with the temperature hovering around 23C, it sure doesn't feel like Christmas. An odd feeling looking at frosty decorative shops and houses with the sun beaming down on me as I walked along route 1.
  After walking New Zealand I will be returning to my route in Australia to walk to Darwin. For New Zealand I decided to walk it with a backpack as there are so many one way bridges roads which are tighter than in Australia and with narrower hard shoulders. So far I think that I made a pretty conservative decision and I could have managed pushing Karma, my trusty cart. However, I am having a bit of a break from pushing her. It certainly makes camping much easier and I can jump over a fence as I did a couple of nights ago and camp in a forest. It does make the country a bit more expensive than it would have been with Karma as I am not carrying any cooking gear. My pack weighs about five kilos and includes my new light-weight  tent which weighs only 1.3 kgs and a summer sleeping bag. Lately, I have started to slip the yellow rain cover over my pack as it gives me higher viability, and besides there are a lot of short showers. I stock up on snacks of mostly dried fruit and peanuts in supermarkets. I also carry a few packets of noodles and any chance I get to get boiling water I lash a packet into my thermos mug. Sometimes I consume that along with a tin of sardines on the road. Instant oatmeal is another handy snack when I can get hot water. On the odd occasion that I do stop in a restaurant I never buy tea or coffee as it's about five dollars a cup. I usually just ask the friendly staff for boiling water and make my own!
 Fortunately, here in Kiwiland towns and villages are pretty close and I have fish 'n' chips at least once a day. I try to go to a regular chip shop as it costs only the equivalent of a few Euro.
One such place was in the picturesque Victorian town of Oamaru. The gentile  Chinese owner told me that he has been living here for eighteen years and knows New Zealand better than China. I couldn't help wondering if I know more of the land of the dragon than most Chinese do.  

I walked a couple of kilometres beyond the town as far as the racecourse.  As  arranged I phoned Jeff who came out of a nearby house with my pack. He mentioned that there was a chance of a rain storm and as he was watching darts on television it seemed like a sensible option to take him up on his invitation to stay the night in his home. 
Then we watched snooker and the Ashes cricket. So, it was a lazy 18 kilometre day but still nice to chill out watching sports which I haven't watched in many years.

 


"Baldwin Street: The steepest street in the world."

My world walk blog new Zealand 2

Thanks to Brian Railton for great crew support today. You may remember he crewed for me last week. Today he was in Dunedin buying a window so he picked up my pack from the backpackers hostel I was staying at.On the way out of the city I stopped at Baldwin Street which is the world's steepest street, please see info on photo for details. It was 350 meters long and not as difficult as I had imagined.  I walked up it in a leisurely seven minutes which included taking pictures. It was crowded with Japanese tourists. In Feb 2013 while on my world run I actually ran past the foot of it. I was at km 49 of a 50 km day on that occasion, and I was too knackered or more likely wimpy πŸ˜… I said that I would return the following morning but I didn't 
Today was wet, so I was glad when I met Brian at a cafe 15 damp kms up the road. Then Brian offered to deliver my pack to a campsite in Waikouaiti a  further 24 kms up the road. That gave me a great 44 for the day.

Friday 37 kms I arrived in Maheno, on New Zealand's picturesque south island.
Thanks to my kind hosts Neil and Sandy for a lovely time πŸ˜…
I stopped to ask permission  to camp on a patch of grass beside their house. Neil response was: "You can if you prefer that to a bed inside with a shower, a feed and someone to do your laundry!" 
Neil went out to the garden to pick some fresh lettuce for my dinner. Today, Saturday Neil has offered to take my pack 16 kms ahead to Oamaru!
While chilling out I was so impressed by their local radio station called Brian Fm that I downloaded the app. Its constant classic rock with almost no talk for 24 hours. Check it out, it's great πŸ˜…
I expect to spend Christmas in Christchurch.
During these last few days I have passed by many world war one memorials. Its always especially so sad when I come to a village and see one where two brothers lives were taken in the war. 
Thanks also to the many kind people who stopped on the road to check on me πŸ˜€

A short day today as I mentioned in my last post that Neil, the man I stayed with the previous night delivered my backpack to his brother Jeff in Oamaru  for me to pick up.  

It was a pleasant stroll with the temperature hovering around 23C, it sure doesn't feel like Christmas. An odd feeling looking at frosty decorative shops and houses with the sun beaming down on me as I walked along route 1.
  After walking New Zealand I will be returning to my route in Australia to walk to Darwin. For New Zealand I decided to walk it with a backpack as there are so many one way bridges roads which are tighter than in Australia and with narrower hard shoulders. So far I think that I made a pretty conservative decision and I could have managed pushing Karma, my trusty cart. However, I am having a bit of a break from pushing her. It certainly makes camping much easier and I can jump over a fence as I did a couple of nights ago and camp in a forest. It does make the country a bit more expensive than it would have been with Karma as I am not carrying any cooking gear. My pack weighs about five kilos and includes my new light-weight  tent which weighs only 1.3 kgs and a summer sleeping bag. Lately, I have started to slip the yellow rain cover over my pack as it gives me higher viability, and besides there are a lot of short showers. I stock up on snacks of mostly dried fruit and peanuts in supermarkets. I also carry a few packets of noodles and any chance I get to get boiling water I lash a packet into my thermos mug. Sometimes I consume that along with a tin of sardines on the road. Instant oatmeal is another handy snack when I can get hot water. On the odd occasion that I do stop in a restaurant I never buy tea or coffee as it's about five dollars a cup. I usually just ask the friendly staff for boiling water and make my own!
 Fortunately, here in Kiwiland towns and villages are pretty close and I have fish 'n' chips at least once a day. I try to go to a regular chip shop as it costs only the equivalent of a few Euro.
One such place was in the picturesque Victorian town of Oamaru. The gentile  Chinese owner told me that he has been living here for eighteen years and knows New Zealand better than China. I couldn't help wondering if I know more of the land of the dragon than most Chinese do.  

I walked a couple of kilometers beyond the town as far as the racecourse.  As  arranged I phoned Jeff who came out of a nearby house with my pack. He mentioned that there was a chance of a rain storm and as he was watching darts on television it seemed like a sensible option to take him up on his invitation to stay the night in his home. 
Then we watched snooker and the Ashes cricket. So, it was a lazy 18 kilometer day but still nice to chill out watching sports which I haven't watched in many years.