Posted by Brian Klee on Nov 13, 2018
Mary and I have been fortunate to enjoy many overseas trips to North America, Europe and a few to Asia.  But as they say, "Don't leave home till you've seen your own country", so 10 years ago I decided I needed to 'knock-off' the New Zealand's Great Walks.
 
In my youth I'd been very active in Scouting, achieving the Queen Scout's Award, and had tramped most the Tararua Ranges and some areas of the Hawkes Bay regions.  I grew to love the hills and views and the tranquillity of the bush, but other sport and then family took over my time.  I’m sure many of you have relate!
 
In 2001, a close friend was working at the Awaroa Lodge in the Abel Tasman National Park and invited us there for her 20th birthday.  At the time Mary was recovering from foot surgery, so instead of returning by water-taxi with her, I walked back to Anchorage.  With perfect weather the views of the deep blue waters below were amazing.  This certainly wetted my enthusiasm to see more of these Great Walks.
                              Awaroa Harbour                                                               Abel Tasman Track
Through Rotary, I heard about Milton Rotary’s trips and on the recommendation of an industry colleague, I signed up for the Routeburn/Greenstone trip as a starter.  So, I joined the Kamatua Tramping Club and enjoyed weekly trips with them to help build up my fitness.
 
I was astounded by the diverse group that assembled on the first night at Glenorchy on 27th February 2009 – a similar male/female mixture, many were from overseas and ages ranging 35-75, I guess.  Sadly, low cloud covered our view from the top down to the Hollyford Valley.
                   Routeburn track looking back towards Glenorchy                           Vegetation on the Routeburn Track
Two fellow walkers from that trip asked me if I’d like to do Lake Waikaremoana next.  We did this in January 2010, before we once again did the Milford Track 2 months later.  A knee injury in December didn't deter my enthusiasm!
           Intrepid trio ready for the next challenge                                 Amazing views above the Lake
            The Mackinnon Pass on Milford Track                                           Stunning Milford view on last day
By now my aging knees were telling me to back-off a bit.  I stopped going to the local tramping club and invested in a mountain bike for flat riding.  So next it was the Otago Rail Trail in February 2011.
                      Age was no barrier here!                                            Central Otago scenery was quite different
The next few years were consumed by several overseas trips.  That was until my fellow Rotary/Probus friends got me active again with local day-trips!  This included another trip with Milton Rotary (the 4th) to The Catlins; in February next year I'll do my 5th trip to the Borland Lodge.
           Waterfall at The Catlins                              Tui enjoying the Catlins scenery too 
Even around the Wellington Region there is stunning scenery, which equals anything in the world!  Some of those views captured his year have included, Mt Kaukau, Hawkin’s Hill, Colonial Knob, and last month, 2 magical days staying in the Orongaronga's Haurangi Hutt.
             Day's Bay, Eastbourne                                      A distant view of Kaikoura's from Colonial Knob 
                  Cannons Point, Upper Hutt                                                      Colonial Knob, Porirua
                      The Orongaronga valley, Remutaka Ranges - October 2018
The future?  Subject to the body holding together, I’d still like to do the others, especially Tongariro CrossingNew Zealand is one of the most beautiful and geographically/organically diverse countries in the world and it is a huge shame many haven’t visited these amazing areas, or wait until their age is against them. 
 
To use the Nike catch-phrase, don't wonder, “Just Do It!
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