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William Penwell

  • The end.

      20 April 2017
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    Hey folks! I apologise for the delay between the finish and this final update, due entirely to my post-trail exhaustion and ever present disorganisation. On the 10 April 2017 I arrived in Bluff and finally finished the Te Araroa Trail, 146 days since my departure from Cape Reinga on 16 November 2016. The final day of the trail consisted of a 70km hike, starting at 4:30am in Riverton and finishing at 11:00pm at Stirling Point, Bluff. The end of the trail brought about strange emotions, ranging from euphoria to very conclusive satisfaction. I was incredibly grateful to Paula and Crist from the Bluff township, who picked me up from the finish line and put me up for the night, an incredibly kind service to this weary hiker.

    By the end, I was very ready to be done with walking and beat a retreat back to the comforts of civilisation, particularly that offered by friends, family and the glorious perks of the fridge/pantry combo. The trail has easily been the most challenging experience of my life, and has led to immense personal growth (as well as serious physical shrinking). My self confidence, appreciation for the New Zealand outdoors, and understanding of people and cultures from around the world has skyrocketed, and done nothing but fuel my adventurous side. Thus despite the call of home, immediately following the trail I embarked on the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island, after which I spent a day hitchhiking back to Christchurch over a period of 16 hours via 10 different rides.

    As to the future, I am moving to Wellington on Monday 24 April to work for the next couple of months, and to finish the final course of my Bachelor of Criminal Justice. Following this I hope to work and travel abroad for as long possible, before returning to New Zealand to undertake a Master of Social Work (Applied) back at the University of Canterbury. The Te Araroa has most certainly NOT put me off walking, as I have hopes to attempt several other long distance trails, namely the Camino de Santiago (through parts of France and Spain) and the Pacific Crest Trail (from the US border with Mexico to the border with Canada).

    A huge thank you to all of you sponsors for your contributions to the Fred Hollows Foundation. Your donations have been well received, and will be guaranteed to go towards a fantastic cause. We nailed the original goal of $2000, finishing with a grand total of $2130. Considering the most common eye treatment offered by Fred Hollows generally costs around $25, these funds should make a significant difference in the lives of many people. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have parents who have gone out of their way to promote this page to friends and family, and who collected many cash donations on my behalf, for which I have been hugely grateful.

    Once again, thank you for your continuing support of me and the Fred Hollows Foundation!

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  • Arrival in Queenstown

      30 March 2017
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    2677km walked, 323km to go! It's been a hard slog, but I've finally reached Queenstown. As predicted, the South Island has proven to be significantly more technical and physically challenging than the North. The terrain has varied from lush forested river valleys to high altitude tussock and rock face. The natural beauty of New Zealand never ceases to amaze with every new region I encounter.

    Notable highlights have included climbing Mt Rintoul, Waiau Pass, Stags Saddle, and Breast Hill (For anyone wanting a relatively short and accessible walk, I would highly recommend the banks of the Clutha River between Albert Town and Wanaka). Wildlife has ranged from an assortment of native birds to introduced tahr, deer and even wallabies.

    Thankfully, aside from a few wrong turns and wasp stings, the trail has gone smoothly. I have been very lucky, considering the amount of scars on my fellow thru-hikers, and the fact that four of my hiker friends have had to be rescued by helicopter from the trail due to accidents and injuries.

    The South Island has been absolutely stunning, complimented by a 15,000ft skydive and 134m bungee jump. The difficulty of the trail is no longer in the walking, but rather in coming to decisions regarding my post-trail future, and tackling the endless introspective questions for which I have had a ridiculous amount of time to ponder.

    It looks like I'm $95 off my fundraising target, so thank you sponsors! Your donations are going to a fantastic cause, and will be making a real difference. If nothing else, they give me some added motivation in the morning when waking up under my tarpaulin on a damp and dreary mountainside.

    Two weeks to go, and I should be home by Easter!

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  • Arrival in the South Island!

      13 February 2017
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    As of the 27 January, I have finished the entirety of the North Island (about 1700km). My friend James who was also walking the Te Araroa decided to finish in Wellington in time for the next uni trimester, so it is now just me on my lonesome. Unfortunately the phone with all of our pictures met an untimely end, so there isn't much more to show. However I did find a photo of me at Cape Reinga, at the start of the trail. I had a freshly shaved head and face, which hasn't been cut or trimmed since. As you can imagine, I'll be pretty shaggy by the time I reach Bluff!

    Since arriving in Wellington I have taken a short break to go to my cousin's wedding and attend a music festival. Special thanks to my Uncle Gordon for driving me to and from the ferry, Blenheim and Nelson several times during this period, and for the gourmet meals he provided for this road weary traveler. With recharged batteries, I began the Queen Charlotte Track at the top of the South Island on 10 February. I am now near Havelock, preparing to tackle the upcoming Richmond Ranges.

    The journey has continued to be enormously rewarding, and it is encouraging to see that people are still donating to the cause for which I am incredibly grateful! So far the most enjoyable sections of the trail include the 7 day Whanganui River journey by canoe, the Tongariro Crossing (Pictured, with me at the top of Mount Ngauruhoe), and the Tararua Range. I look forward to what the South has to offer, especially since it is a wee bit closer to home. Once again, thank you to everyone for their support!

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  • 600km Update

      12 December 2016

    Well, I made it to Auckland! 600km down, 2400km to go. Its taken 26 days, including a 5 day recover period after twisting my knee and ankle in the Herekino Forest. I haven't been able to write an update, because cell phone reception has been horrific. The trail has been both physically and mentally challenging, but I'm still in one piece and mostly in sound mind. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated, especially those since the last update! Every dollar makes a significant difference, as it only costs $25 to cure most cases of preventable blindness. I'll check in again as soon as the trail allows, and thanks again!

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  • Progress Update

      6 September 2016

    A huge thanks to everyone who has donated so far, as I greatly appreciate your support for both myself and the cause!

    Over the past 6 months I have purchased over $2500 worth of gear, undertaken multiple practice hikes and tramps, and received a large amount of support from my friends and family. Departure date is set for the 14th November!

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