My trek down the Rockies in 2010 was a sheer fun-filled adventure which whetted my appetite for more. The Spartan life style of roaming around, sleeping in the back of a van in forests, mountains or by rivers and lakes challenged me, and I loved it all and the independence it gave me. It also kept the costs to a minimum; a prerequisite for a pensioner. Travelling alone allowed me to set my own pace without compromise (I think nothing of hiking 25 miles at the drop of a hat, which I appreciate is not everybody's cup of tea), and opened me up to serendipity.
I have no desire to fit into a lifestyle of gardening, golf, bowls or the numerous other things retired people usually slot into. My inbuilt yearn to explore is too powerful, and while I am physically able bodied, that's what I will do. The rigorous researching is as much fun as the actual adventure, and combined can take up much of my time over the course of a year.
Thus, not long after my return from the Rockies, I started thinking about what other big wide open spaces I could repeat such exploits in. It wasn't long before New Zealand rose to the top of the pile, with its stunning scenery and laid back pace of life.
I read a couple of books in order to get other travellers views and galvanize my plan into action. "Kiwi Tracks" by Andrew Stevenson, gives an account of his backpacking around the islands, and tramps (the New Zealand term for hikes) in the pristine wilderness over famous walking routes such as the Abel Tasman Track, Kepler Track and Milford Track. He also provides an, at times amusing, insight of the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples and other backpackers. Expatriate Joe Bennett describes in his book, "A Land of Two Halves", a rambling hitch-hike around the country, providing a brilliant witty account of the folk who gave him lifts and the places he found himself dropped off at. Once enthused I then delved into the usual Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books to kick start the detailed researching.
What crystallized out of my planning was a trip around the world; hey, if I'm travelling to the opposite side of the planet, I might as well complete a lap. The initial port of call will be San Francisco. I'll stay there for five days to get over one set of jet lag. There I'll meet up with a companion, an artistic lady who I met in 2010 in Santa Barbara, and together we'll explore the galleries. Then I'll head across the Pacific to Auckland, where I will sort out a vehicle to travel and live in. Once established, I'll complete a loop around the top of North Island before making a large figure of eight loop around the rest of the North Island and South Island. I will be taking in a vast array of scenery from sweeping sandy beaches to glacial mountains and primeval forests, as well as getting stuck into plenty of excellent hikes, plus discovering the Maori culture. After just over three months of exploring, I will end up in Auckland to dispose of the vehicle and any other baggage I don't want to carry with me. Then I'll spend a week in Sydney, a week in Hong Kong, where I'll join my son Dan, and then back to my homeland to catch up with the rest of my family.
One of the links at the top/bottom of the page leads to map and route information. The index, as its name implies, gives shortcuts to various locations visited and other points of interest. The diary provides links to a day-to-day log. Not only does it cover where I have been, but will also give information about where I intend to be over the near future, and also provides an address/location of where the website was last updated from. These latter points are very important in case anything goes wrong; I want my family to know the exact location of where I last was plus where I intended to be over the following few days. With careful planning and due diligence, all should go well and I'll have another memorable trip of a lifetime.
Enjoy the adventure as it unrolls!