North to South with Menno
Cape Reinga sits at the northernmost point of New Zealand at the tip of the Aupouri Peninsula. Whilst Bluff, Invercargill props up the country as the southernmost town of mainland South Island.
Between these two landmarks sits a 3000km stretch of natural landscape unique, wild and diverse beyond the worlds imaginations. Raging storms, earthquakes, tectonic forces and carving glaciers have shaped New Zealand over millions of years. The result is a diverse terrain ready to challenge the few enigmatic and adventurous souls who would dare to cross from North to South on foot.
Let us introduce you to MeNno
26 years old, living in the vibrant town of Wanaka and part of the infamous Cardrona crew helping set-up gear for the snow faithful enthusiasts. Menno is one of those few people who can bring a place to life with a lively and excitable personality, happy to stir the pot for fun and keep those embers burning. But trust us, don’t the let the jovial persona fool you, this is one heck of a knowledgeable Dutchman with a stubborn determination for his upcoming challenge of a lifetime.
Q: What are you hoping to get out of this?
A: 'I've kinda lost the outdoor feeling and would like to get that back, and also I want to know and feel again what and why I chose the outdoors to be my profession'
Q: What will your days leading up to the challenge involve?
A: 'My days leading up to the challenge mostly involve preparing for it, thinking about how and what I am going to do, looking for the gear I still need and of course enjoying my time here in New Zealand'
Q: What will your last indulgent meal be?
A: 'Something with a good amount of meat, affordable and a delicious dessert! Man I haven't had a good dessert in a long time!'
The journey so far..
Menno’s teenage years were spent studying outdoor education, ingraining a sense for adventure in his mind from a young age. Followed by seasons ski instructing in Austria and summer outdoor guiding throughout Europe, ideal terrains to hone survival, bushcraft and outdoor skills. Extra curriculum partying tuition are add-ons that go with the territory, of which Menno was reluctant to embrace, but needs must.
Fast forward to New Zealand 2017, so why here and why now? Well a stumble along life's path is something we can all relate to, and it can take a momentous effort to nudge your earth back onto its correct axis. Introduce momentous effort, New Zealand and the North to South 3000km journey. Tackled on foot with only the essential gear to keep as company.
All to prove self worth in an outdoorsman's mind and in Menno’s words “Can I handle it?” the unknown question (at this stage).
How to prepare for the challenge of a lifetime?
Prepare for what you know, as there will be enough unknowns to keep you busy and ensure to “hike your own hike”. Te Araroa website, a vital source of knowledge and linked social sites are a great place to start your research for any considering embarking on a journey to match Frodo and Sam Wise. The trail opened in 2011 and is slowly growing in popularity, but even with that said, this year we know of only 300 hikers planning to be on the full trail.
- ETA of challenge: 4 months
- Distance: 3000km
- Terrain: Beach, native bush, national parks, mountainous regions, multiple elevations
- Climate: Spring to Summer conditions
Kit List (as minimal as possible):
- Trekking Poles
- 1x Trousers
- 1x Shorts
- 2x Merino wool t-shirts
- 1x Jacket
- 3x Merino wool socks
- Lightweight tent
- Sleeping bag
- Compass + 70 pages of laminated map pages (double sided)
- Cooking gear
- Garmin GPS
Once fully loaded the gear weighs in at 12kg, a weight Menno seems fairly comfortable resting on his shoulders for 4 months. He is one tall fellow, which helps! Food, well Menno has a solid list of pizza delivery numbers for the route. Shame there won’t be much signal! Plain, high carb foods such as oats and porridge are the chefs choice instead.
What are the challenges (beyond the obvious lengthy walk)?
“What happens when I f*ck up?”, yep the inevitable ‘oh sh*t’ I’ve burnt down my tent and I’m 100km from the nearest town. Only a few hardened souls will step onto this trail, meaning if something does go wrong, deep in the wilderness, this is where the years of bushcraft training will need to prove it’s worth. Then there is the invisible challenge, the one of pure mental strength and stamina. Training your mental game is as important as your physical condition, learning coping mechanisms with anxieties and loneliness, which are inevitable to set-in.
And on the bright side?
The extraordinary feat and journey of unknown adventures will offer an experience of richness beyond any credit card could fathom. We cannot hype this enough! The euphoric feeling of achievement when reaching the Bluff will last a lifetime. In November of 2017 our friend Menno will be leaving Cape Reinga, good luck ol’chap, the whole of Cardrona, Wanaka and WildTribe are rooting for you buddy!