Liam, 12, tackles final Great Walk

By Lawrence Gullery

At 12 years old, Liam Marshall could possibly be the youngest Kiwi kid about to conquer all nine of New Zealand's Great Walks.

The Napier boy and his father Glenn, set off next week to tackle the last Department of Conservation Great Walk on their list, the Tongariro North Circuit in the central North Island.

Liam completed his first Great Walk, the Whanganui River, when he was 8, and during the past four years has walked another seven.

"I started probably because my dad enjoyed walking them. So I thought if he enjoyed it, it must be a good experience so I wanted to give it ago, and it just flew on from there," Liam said.

His favourite walk has been the Kepler track in the South Island, an adventure achieved last January.

"I found that one awesome because of the snow. I've been in the snow before but not when it's been falling, that was pretty cool." Training for the walks has helped with his fitness for football. It also gives him some quality time with dad, as well as mum, who sometimes also walks.

"It's not the kind of thing you can train for by just walking around a park because the Great Walks have all sorts of terrain.

'I am probably the fittest I have ever been. During the walks, dad and I have some good conversations as we go along and I'm also learning a thing or too about the place where we are walking."

Preparing for the Tongariro walk had already begun, to make sure "we don't forget anything".

"Sleeping bags in case we have to stay over extra nights because you can't always trust the weather forecast. We'll take extra food, snack pack, a couple of pairs of polypropylene tops and leggings, maybe a pack liner to keep our gear dry it if rains," he said.

Mr Marshall, a keen tramper, said Liam actually began coming out on walks with him when he was 4 years old.

"We were doing a lot of tramping over at Te Puia lodge, around the hot pools in the Kaweka Ranges and I took him up there before he started school.

"He walked the majority of the way up but I had to explain when we got to the hut that we couldn't watch TV," Mr Marshall said

The father and son team had completed various day walks to Shine Falls, Sunrise Hut, Rangitoto, before looking at conquering the nine Great Walks.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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