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Following Bilbo Baggins

Baxter Murray on a training tramp around Lake Waikaremoana. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Inspired by Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, Year 9 Kuranui pupil Baxter Murray and his dad Dave, are embarking on their own great adventure.

They plan to hike the entire length of New Zealand along the 3000km Te Araroa trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

“Dad read The Hobbit book and he wanted to go on a big adventure. He had heard of the trail, and we are both trampers, so we decided to do it,” Baxter said.

After 18 months of planning, the duo is almost ready to head off, planning to leave in October.

They expect to cover the distance in four months, which will mean taking time off school.

The experience will provide Baxter with opportunities outside school, however he plans to catch up with what he can.

“I’ll send an email to my mentor teacher with what I did that week, but it may just be from an internet cafe.”

The two have created a website – walktheta.co.nz, to fund their trip, selling custom t-shirts which were designed by the family.

“You have quite a few costs, all of your equipment, and the trail costs, which adds up to quite a bit.

“Every week we will go into a town and stock up.

It will be pasta, tomato paste, and a bit of dried meat. Freeze-dried meals and stuff like that.

“There are quite a few people who do the trail, but not enough to keep it going, so five per cent of the profits will be donated to the Te Araroa Trust, to help them run and promote this amazing experience.

Officially opened in December 2011 by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae, the average TA through-walker spends from $7000 to $10,000 during their three to five-month journey.

Last summer, the number of people walking the full length of the trail exceeded 1000 for the first time, and hundreds of thousands of people walk individual sections every year.

About a third of those who walked the full length of the country were New Zealanders.

“We are focusing on funding the trip, but once we’ve got enough, we plan to send any extra to something like the Starship Hospital,” Baxter said.

Their website shows the many other hikes the two intrepid trampers have done.

“Once we have completed the trail, this site will become a visual guide to the walk with photos and videos of each stage, along with our experiences, anecdotes and any advice we feel might be helpful for other TA walkers.”

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