David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Greatest NZ Stories: Long walk for peace and freedom

From Cape Reinga to the Bluff, the New Zealand Herald's epic roadtrip has begun! To celebrate the Herald's 150th anniversary we're on the hunt for your greatest stories.

Peter Thomas wheels his buggy on the Coromandel Peninsula. Picture / Mark Mitchell
Peter Thomas wheels his buggy on the Coromandel Peninsula. Picture / Mark Mitchell

One foot after another, Peter Thomas has crunched 2000 kilometres under his first pair of shoes and is about to change into another as he walks around the world.

He's also worn through a set of tyres on the pram which contains his worldly possessions, pushed before him since setting off almost a year ago.

The Herald's Greatest Stories road trip bumped into the Australian adventurer in Whangamata, where he was getting a new set of tyres before continuing the journey. We're driving to Bluff in a campervan - but Mr Thomas is aiming to walk around the world and save it in the process.

The journey is almost a year old. Mr Thomas, 54, set off from Mt Wollumbin in New South Wales on December 21, 2012 - the "end of days" according to the Mayan calendar. He walked 1800 kilometres in his native land, where he had worked in media, before hopping on a plane to New Zealand on September 3.

Since then, he's walked south from Auckland International Airport, headed to Thames and looped the top of the Coromandel Peninsula before heading south.

He's left behind a family, "including a mum who thinks I've totally lost my mind". She's aged 84. "I'll probably never see her again, but you never know."

He walks 35km in a day when he's focused on covering ground. Other days, it might be just 15km. He has enough money for an emergency return flight to Australia but relies on the kindness of strangers or the side of the road. His preferred camping places, he says with a grin, are next to signs which say "no freedom camping, but not so close I can be seen".

He talks of his mission to balance peace and freedom - a utopian goal which has vanished under the complexities of modern life.

"There are things in the world we have to stop doing because we are so far out of balance," said Mr Thomas, who prefers to be known as Peter Walkingourworld.

It is the US to which Mr Thomas is heading. After New Zealand he wants to island hop as a crew member on a yacht across the Pacific before heading to South America.

Ever the media professional, he has a strategy for arriving in the US. Coverage like this article will grow, he says, as he covers more ground. By the time he has walked to the US, he hopes he will attract enough interest to have Americans listen to his message.

But it is the message which must compel, he says, not him. "I have only one person I can insist takes radical change - and that's me."

Your story

Do you have a great yarn or captivating tale to share? Fill in the online form here, email your stories, photos or video to nzhgreatest@nzherald.co.nz or share your story on social media using the hashtag #nzhgreatest.

- NZ Herald

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