Greytown father and son Dave and Baxter Murray on the Te Araroa Trail near the Nelson Lakes. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

For three Wairarapa residents tramping the Te Araroa Trail, they came out of the bush to find the world much changed.

The Te Araroa trail runs the entire length of New Zealand, 3000 kilometres from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Greytown father and son Dave and Baxter Murray set off on the trail mid-October last year, looking for an adventure.

“I loved every moment of it. We’ve had one or two bad days though,” Dave said.

Baxter agreed, saying it was “bloody hard” in some parts, battling thick mud and South Island sand flies.

The 14-year-old Kuranui College student went through three pairs of boots over their trip – one pair he simply outgrew, and the other two were worn out.

After four months on the trail, they were close to completing the end of their journey when news stories about the covid-19 pandemic started to increase.

“We heard about it in Christchurch,” Dave said.

“At that point, it was something that was happening in China.

“We got to Bluff and then we started to realise it was much bigger. Things started happening really quickly.”

Baxter said some of the overseas trampers they had met while out on the trail were still stranded.

“Te Araroa walkers came out of the bush with no idea what had been happening.”

The pair had been planning to circle back to a section of the trail between Whanganui and Wellington which they skipped to return home for Christmas, when they made the decision to return to Greytown ahead of the lockdown period.

Both joked they were well-prepared for the social isolation after having spent so much time in the bush.

Dave said living rurally meant they could still go for walks, and continuing to exercise had been “critical” for the two in adjusting back to home life.

While they were happy to be home, they were still keen to complete the final 300km stretch which they estimated would take about two weeks to complete.

They’re curating pictures from their trip, and videos can be found online via their Facebook page, facebook.com/walktheta.

The lockdown had also disrupted Masterton woman Mary Williams’ plans to complete part of the Te Araroa Trail.

Mary Williams at home in the Tararua Range. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

“I was only following the spine of Te Ika a Maui,” she said.

She met the Baxter boys while tramping the South Island and had been nearing the end of stage two, completing the North Island leg.

“When I went into Te Urewera weeks ago, there were eight covid-19 cases. When I came out five days later there were something like 52 cases,” she said.

She had just made it to Whakatane when she called a support person to pick her up.

“It was definitely a shock,” she said.

Having walked about 2300km, she said she was eager to complete the journey though she wasn’t sure when that would be.

“Stepping into the bush is taking a breath of fresh air. Everything is slow in the bush.

“With day-to-day life we are constantly inundated with things.”

Williams encouraged people to stay calm during the lockdown period and find time to go for a walk outside.

Her trip also served to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation – she has raised about $3000 of her $5000 goal.

  • Anyone wishing to donate can go online to, events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/marysontherun.