Long before Peter Jackson transformed the country into Middle Earth, New Zealand was known for it’s stunning landscape of rainforests, glacier valleys, native bush, alpine peaks, and golden beaches.
And while it’s a landscape that’s easily seen from a car or bus window, the best way to experience New Zealand is to put on some boots and start walking.
There are plenty of wilderness walkways and tracks to choose from, ranging from sedate day walks to one of the longer, more strenuous Department of Conservation designated ‘Great Walks’.
The Nine Great Walks – Abel Tasman Coast Track, the Whanganui Journey, Milford Track, the Routeburn Track, the Kepler Track, the Heaphy Track, the Tongariro Northern Circuit, the Rakiura Track and the Lake Waikaremoana Track – are hugely popular with locals and tourists alike.
Everyone, it seems, likes to converse with nature.
Even Air New Zealand, who recently teamed up with the Department of Conservation to promote and protect the Great Walks and the native species inhabiting them.
And Air New Zealand’s first step in promoting this partnership is to put out a call for four adventurous souls to take on the challenge of walking all nine of New Zealand’s great walks in just nine weeks.
If that tires you out just thinking about it, then this is probably not the competition for you.
You really will need at least a moderate degree of fitness to be able to walk the 550 kilometers of rugged New Zealand terrain in nine weeks. To put it in perspective that’s 8.7 kilometers a day for 63 days.
You also need to have knack for blogging and story telling as each of the four winners will share their journeys via regular blog updates.
Still interested? Then head over to The Great Walker Competition and find out how to enter. But hurry, entries close on Monday 22 October, 2012
Of course, if you’re more like me and think that while the idea of it sounds great, the reality would just about kill you, then perhaps getting comfortable on the couch or porch swing with a copy of New Boots in New Zealand (subtitled: Nine Great Walks, three islands & one tramping virgin) might be a better fit.
It’s a high entertaining, laugh out loud, account of author Gillian Orrell’s solo journey along all nine walks, one after the other, in the space of a couple of months.
Anyone who has ever dreamed of even walking just one of these walks should read this book.
It will transport you, so much so, that you could easy feel that you are just one muddy step away from New Zealand wilderness.
(image via travmedia)