Monday 9 November 2009

Best view in the world

The new tent arrived today. It's a replacement for my old - very old - one that was given to me by Jean-Claude and his wife (cough) 36 years ago. It's a bit of a museum piece these days - but it's given good service. The last time I used it was when I was on the Great New Zealand Trek's second sector, from the Hokianga Harbour to the Kaipara - a distance of about 200 km that I covered on horseback, along with about 80 others, while another contingent rode bikes, and even more hardy souls walked.

It's a wonderful idea: to travel the length of NZ one week a year, so it will take about 12 years to complete the journey. Steve Old, whose inspiration it was, wanted to combine his horsemastership and experience organising treks with a fund-raising effort, and on the first couple of sectors the participants were all sponsored to collect money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, as Steve's mother had suffered from that disease. So it was all for a good cause, but that was just the icing on the cake, because the trek itself was so much fun and such a glorious thing to do.

We spent about six hours in the saddle each day, riding through forests, along the beach and over private land, and fetching up each afternoon at the camp, which had been magically relocated since we left it in the morning. It was a major logistical operation that was wonderfully well organised, and we had proper toilets and showers on a truck, a big dining marquee serving lovely food, and even a massage tent. The horses were all safely contained for the night, while we enjoyed local entertainers before going to bed in our tents.

The weather was beautiful, the scenery ditto, the camaraderie heartening, and a great time was had by all - certainly by me. Some people are in it for the long haul, determined to go the whole distance; but I'll be happy if they'll have me along again when they reach the South Island and the real scenery.

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