By PHILIP CHANDLER
A Queenstown teaching couple are wagging school next term to walk the length of New Zealand.
Susan and Ken McIntyre flew north on Saturday, and started the 3000km Te Araroa Trail, at NZ’s northernmost point, Cape Reinga, yesterday.
Susan, 57, and Ken, 60, who’ve taught at Queenstown Primary and Wakatipu High, respectively, for the past 20 years, intend resuming teaching at the start of next year.
An outdoor education teacher, Ken’s best known for having managed the annual Year 10
Branches Camp, which he’ll miss this year, since 2000.
Susan got the idea for the trek when reading about the Te Araroa Trail when it opened nine years ago.
‘‘We thought this was a good year because this is the first year the last of our sons has gone and left home, so we’re into a new era.
‘‘I just like the idea of doing the hard yards and going through the pain barriers along the way, and just slowing down time and living in the moment.’’
Ken, who’ll be favouring a left knee, says he and his wife are quite well matched.
‘‘I usually get up and feel pretty good, then I get to about 1 o’clock and that’s when I start facing the demons a bit, whereas Susan’s the other way, she just gets stronger.’’
Their only real practice was a very muddy 10-day walk around Stewart Island’s North West Circuit.
Ken says they’ll go at their own pace.
‘‘I think a lot of people take [Te Araroa] on because they’re very goal-focused, and we’re not really those sort of people.’’
Allowing just four months is a bit tight to get all the way to Bluff, he admits.
‘‘If we can get to Queenstown or Wanaka, that’s great’’, leaving the last stretch for some other time.
‘‘I believe we start school on January 25.
‘‘I mean it would be quite cool if I walked up and took my pack off and slipped into a [principal] Steve Hall special staff meeting.’’