Inspiring the next generation: Queenstown adventurer Emma Timmis needs help to realise her next dream, publishing her first kids' book, which she also intends to illustrate


Queenstown’s adventure girl Emma Timmis has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

In 2014 she ran across Africa – the 3974km distance equivalent to 94 marathons – in 89 days.

Then in 2017 she unofficially broke a Guinness World Record after finishing a 74-day ‘elliptical’ bike ride, covering 7951.9km across Australia.

And she had been planning to set the record for the fastest run of the length of New Zealand when her left leg decided to stop playing ball.

Three years ago this past Monday, Timmis says she was 23km through a 30km run when “my leg just hurt”.

“It’s just never been the same since.

“I’ve had every investigation under the sun to try and figure out what’s going on … and nobody can figure it out.

“I’ve had all the scans imaginable … I had an operation last year and that still hasn’t done anything … they’re looking at my back now to see if the pain’s coming from there.”

The injury, which is also causing loss of function, has turned her life upside down.

But, rather than get down in the dumps about it, she decided to play the cards she’s been dealt and find the silver lining.

“I guess you’ve got two ways of dealing with it – be miserable and moan about how awful it is, or figure out something else that you can do and make it better.

“So, I took the second option.”

The end result is her first book, based on her African run, and aimed at kids aged between two and eight.

But, because she had to jack in her job as a rock climbing instructor, again due to the dodgy leg, she’s been earning an income selling her art at local markets.

“Because I live in Queenstown, I work seven days a week just trying to live here, and the book’s been put on the side for nearly a year now.

“I’m just not prepared to do that.”

Covid-19’s put paid to market days for the time being, so Timmis is hoping to raise the $9900 she estimates she needs to finish it off and get it published using crowdfunding site,

Multi-talented: Emma Timmis is also planning to illustrate her first book

She says $4000 will be used for her living expenses for the three months she thinks it’ll take to illustrate the book, which has a working title ‘The girl who ran across Africa’, and then $5000 to do the first print run of 1000 copies.

The left-over would pay for the crowdfunding site fee.

She’s already done some market testing for the book – which could well be the first in a series documenting all of her adventures to inspire the next generation – and reckons she’s got the right recipe.

“I did a bit of research with my friends that have children and friends that are English teachers, and they said with books for that age group it’s nice to have conversation starters in the imagery.

“So, I’ve put in some little maps of where I’ve run across Africa … there’s a page with a market theme, so there’ll be conversation starters around what kinds of fruits and vegetables are in the market.

“At one point I go over Victoria Falls, which is one of the Wonders of the World, so there are quite a few topics of conversation.”

More than that, though, it’s about encouraging kids to dream big and overcome obstacles.

“By getting this book complete we are passing these lessons on to children and inspiring them to believe in themselves from a young age.”

Timmis is leading by example on that – she remains resolute she’ll one day break the world record running the length of NZ.

“I’m not prepared to give up on that dream, either.

“Until someone says you can categorically never run again, I’m not going to give up on it.”

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