Why not just walk in NZ?

Why not just walk in NZ? Then you could donate the airfare money too.

Spain Sept 15 044

It’s a valid question, and one we considered carefully. Actually, we more than considered it; we investigated doing exactly that before we even thought about going back to Spain.

Money. Time. Whatever we do, it’s going to cost us. So we want to walk 1,000km with an 8-year-old. Experience tells us 15km a day….when it is day after day after day…..is a reasonable distance to aim for. That means about 70 days. Just for argument’s sake, to stay in youth hostels in NZ would be over $100 a night. Which is over $7,000. Which is not too much less than airfares to Europe. Walking here would not necessarily be a lot cheaper.

But cost is not the only factor.

The main issue is accommodation. 1,000km in NZ could be done by going from Cape Reinga to Wellington. So we start at Cape Reinga and the first settlement we come across is Te Kao. Unfortunately that is over 44km away and we’re not up for walking a marathon on the first day! Besides, there’s not actually a legal camping place there, and no youth hostel or motel or five star hotel either. It’s another 25km before we find somewhere that we could legally stop and we can’t walk 70km without sleeping;-)
The kids cope with carrying their own gear – it’s not reasonable to expect them to lug the extra supplies we would need for camping out (tents, cooking utensils, burner, washing facilities, sleeping mats, food supplies and additional water).
And as for walking along SH1 – does fighting with trucks need to be part of the plan?
Along the camino routes, however, there are accommodation options every few kilometres, and cheap ones too. We can stay for a week in Spain for what it would cost us to spend one night in a cheap motel in NZ. Plus we get to take a shower and wash our clothes in a sink each afternoon, and sleep in a bed at night.
Food is cheaper, too, and available at frequent intervals. In NZ we would need to carry a few days’ worth at a time – in Spain we can pick up what we need as we need it from little hamlets dotted along the path. Paths which are very frequently off-road.
So we ruled out the North Island Walk.

Trudging alongside SH1 didn’t appeal, but we wondered whether we could string together New Zealand’s Great Walks. Then at least accommodation would be provided. But that’s not cheap either. The huts might be basic, but they still cost an arm and a leg. Getting one adult to Stewart Island from Invercargill costs two weeks’ accommodation for all of us in Spain. And you gotta get to Invercargill first! Oodles of dollars in petrol or if we take the train and ferry as far as we can, we’d still have to hire a van to get to the start of the routes.
And that’s not all. There’s a but, a big but….here it is……BUT….even if we did all of the walks we wouldn’t make it to even 400km – and quite frankly, 398km-walk-for-water doesn’t have the same ring about it. Plus, we’d have to leave the 8-year-old at home because you have to be at least ten years old to do the Milford Track. And even if we did leave her behind, what are the chances of managing to get bookings on all those tracks in one season? We haven’t heard of anyone managing to fit them all together in one sitting.
Nup, that’s not going to work either. Not this time.

By this stage, remembrances of how easy it was to walk along established camino paths in Spain entered my thinking. Not easy-in-terms-of-no-hardship, but easy as opposed to ridiculously silly.
We priced it up. Yes, $10,000 for airfares. And a few more euros for food and accommodation, although truth be told, we would also be eating food even if we stayed in NZ (and spending more on it, what’s more).

We decided we were in a position to choose to spend 10K if we wanted to. We weren’t planning to, but we were able to. We thought that if we could get sponsors to generate $20,000, then we would have raised more than if we simply gave our own money away. Mboy11 has his hopes pinned on $100,000!

So we thought about how to raise money. We listed all the people we could ask – and it goes well beyond our family and friends! Other people just might give – and not only give once, but start a habit of giving, resulting in far more than our airfares building one water project in Africa.

We decided we would devote a decent amount of time and effort to focussing on fundraising – this would not just be a walk in the park, it would not just be a holiday. It would be a learning opportunity for all of us. As we learnt, the children also would learn how to go about fundraising. They would learn they could make a difference in the world. They would learn to use their voice to stand up for justice, to fight poverty, to defend the defenseless. They would learn to use their resources to benefit others. They would see that we don’t just give money to causes, but we can invest ourselves in them. They would learn to do hard things. They would experience sacrifice. They would walk. And walk. And walk. And walk some more. And think about the women and children who have to do that same walking every day just to keep their families alive.

This is about so much more than money.


an adventure for 2014

It was Easter 2013 that we I had a crazy idea.
PapaBear had gone off to camp with the older kids and had a face-to-face encounter with God and came home expecting MamaBear (me) to suggest we adopt a dozen babies from Africa. I rather suspect he would have been up for the challenge. But with half the family away I had had time to think and had hatched my own plan, albeit a much simpler one.
You’ve got to know that we adopted into our family two little kids from Togo last year – that is to say, we sponsor them, but our biological kids talk about them as much as each other, so they are family now. And even before we’d done that, we’d talked with our GP one day. We had visited him with a broken toe or something and came away with broken hearts. He had just returned from his latest trip to Africa and talked passionately about what he believes is the single biggest problem in Africa – the long treks women make to collect (often impure) water. He reckoned if you could give access to clean water, you could change their lives completely. Of course, we already knew that, but it took his compassionate account to compel me to action. I asked the kids to consider what we could do to help the situation. I asked God to lead our thoughts.
I came across “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn – may I encourage you to read this one? It is a life-changing book. It’s almost certain that if you have access to that book, you are living in a position of privilege, and for me, it made me want to use my position even more to bless others.
As a family we read aloud Katie Davis’ “Kisses from Katie” and our hearts swelled more for the people of Africa.
Some Christmas money went towards digging a well. We welcomed Komi and Dagan into our family. But we could still do more.
I discovered charity: water. I spent Easter reading every page on their website and my idea took shape.

“What if I went back to the Camino and walked 1,000km to raise money for a water project in Africa?” I suggested to PapaBear.
I needed him to know this was a Serious Suggestion:

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And over the next few months the dream grew. We decided the younger boys (who will be 11 and 13 when we go) would be invited. They didn’t hesitate.They were in.
Then the little girls (the youngest will turn 8 soon after leaving NZ, the other will be 10) wondered aloud why they couldn’t go.
Too far, too hard.
“But we walked last year – and I did it with a broken arm and I never complained,’ Tgirl pointed out.
Can you argue with that? Would you even want to?

So we started looking at routes. How to make 1,000km along various camino paths. All roads lead to Rome, but we were going to Santiago, and there are a lot of roads that go there too. We’ve ended up with the following proposal.

Lboy13 and Mboy11 will accompany me to Madrid at the end of April. We’ll take a bus to Pamplona and walk through the Pyrenees to Bayonne in France on the Camino Baztan. 110km Done.
Then we’ll head down to Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port, which is a semi-official-ish starting point for the main Camino route, the Camino Frances. That will be 67km on the Voie de la Nive (and no, I don’t speak French apart from baguette and merci, but my linguistic detective work tells me the Nive is the name of a river and “voie” is probably “path” – googletranslate provides confirmation. And I have a map and compass, so we’ll be right. Besides, it’s only a hand span on the map)
When we leave Saint Jean for our second take at the Pyrenees, PapaBear will leave Auckland with the two younger girls. If all goes according to plan, we will arrive in Pamplona on the same day, and we’ll have done another 70km. The girls will have missed the hardest stretch with compulsory longer stages.

By the way, you can zoom in on the following map and scroll around if you really want to:

…..actually the map cannot be embedded on WordPress blogs at the moment but they are working on rectifying that problem, so if you want to see it and the next one too, they can be found on this old page….

PapaBear has two weeks with us and we’ll blitz along as far as we can, trying to find the balance between enjoying our time together and covering some decent distances. Then he’ll hop on a train bound for Madrid airport (and ultimately, home), and the rest of us will walk due west towards Santiago. But we won’t keep going that way. We have already walked the last 300km of that route, and so when we get to Leon, we’ll sidestep northwards through the mountains on the Camino del Salvador. When that finishes, we’ll continue on the Camino Primitivo……and a good way along that route we will hit the 1,000km mark. Hopefully we will still have time up our sleeves – if not, we’ll take a bus, but if we do, we’ll go the extra mile…..we’ll zip off the official route and make our own way down to Melide where we have wonderful memories from our last trip. The rest of the family has charged us with buying a particular variety of biscuit from a particular bakery there. We’re not objecting. From there it’s just a few days to Santiago, the totally official end-point of all the Caminos.

Why 1,000km? It makes the maths easy! If you sponsor one cent per kilometer, it will cost $10. If you sponsor ten cents it will be $100. What could be easier?
But we’re not actually asking you for any money…..not yet!
For now, would you be able to take a look at www.charitywater.org? Would you snoop around and see if this is a charity you might find yourself willing to make a contribution to when we walk? We’ll be putting up a campaign, but not until next year. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to check out the website and see the fantastic work they are doing.
Will you take this journey with us? (we’ll blog weekly until departure and then daily if possible when we’re away)

Spain Sept 29 001

1,000km walk-for-water

Spain Sept 25 006

Every day women and children spend 200 million hours collecting water for their families. We (four kiwi kids aged 8-13 and their mum) want to identify with those families in a practical way and raise money to fund a clean water source for some of them.  In May-June 2014 we are going to walk 1,000km across Spain to raise money for charity: water. Click HERE to donate if you’d like to.

$20 gives clean, fresh and safe drinking water to one person for their whole life.

5,000 people giving just two cents per kilometre (or $20) would raise $100,000.
Are you able to give and would you mind telling others, too? You could hit the LIKE button over on the left under the slideshow or share on your favourite social media sites (you’ll find some handy little links at the end of any post you click on).