Intrepid walkers hit Queenstown

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A couple walking the length of New Zealand have set themselves an extra challenge.

Willi Borst and Dave Marshall, from Havelock, near Blenheim, have vowed not a use a vehicle at any stage so they’ve had walk further for supplies.

The couple, who spent two recent summers managing the Routeburn Track Falls lodge for guided walk company Ultimate Hikes, are walking the 3000km Te Araroa tramping trail that runs the length of NZ but also taking in as many national parks and forest ranges as possible.

They stayed at a friend’s home in Queenstown 95 days into their trek, and were expecting to reach Bluff, via Fiordland, in another 12 to 14 days’ time.

“We’ve been in good spirits the whole way, we’ve had no health issues or any injuries,” Marshall said – both he and Borst recently turned 50.

At that stage they’d slept 65 nights in a tent, 14 in a bed and 15 in a hut.

Most days they’re walking between 30 and 35 kilometres, though they’d had two 50km days.

They usually walk 10 to 12 hours a day, with a one to two-hour rest in the middle of the day when it’s hottest.

“In the North Island, we got snowed on, hailed on and rained on in just about every forest park we we went into but when we came into the South Island we’ve had perfect weather right up to here,” Marshall said.

Tracks were also in better nick in the South Island, and markings were better.

A highlight had been the generosity people had showed them, he said: “It has really restored our faith in people.”

An example was at Macetown, behind Arrowtown, last week.

“We were asleep on the ground for our lunchtime siesta, because it was so hot.

“A family just drove into Macetown in their 4WD.

“We got talking, they found out what we were up to.

“We looked pretty hungry obviously – they dragged us over and fed us with bacon and egg pie, nice chilled water, and just before they left they handed over a tin of smoked oysters and some crackers.

“We demolished the lot.”