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Teen, 17, reaches Auckland on 'epic' trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff

A 17-year-old Coromandel lad is a quarter of the way through the biggest adventure of his young life - walking the length of New Zealand.

His aim - to meet and film people working to promote and preserve the wild in New Zealand, while at the same time becoming the youngest person to walk the length of the country.

"So far I've walked from Cape Reinga to South Auckland through Ninety Mile Beach, down Northland, down North Auckland, and then all the way down into South Auckland, into Mangere," Atawhai Charteris told NZ Herald Focus.

It has taken a month for the teenager to walk the 650km trek from the top of the country to its biggest city, and anticipates he will need another three months for the remanding 2350km.

"My feet have definitely taken a beating so far," he said.

"It's getting easier, the miles are definitely getting easier, getting fitter and starting to smash out 50km or 40km a day."

The journey began because Atawhai wanted to do something "radically different" and something which scared him.

He said he was inspired and advised by Brando Yelavich, known as Wildboy, who famously walked the entire coastline of New Zealand.

Atawhai said he'd gained some 5kg by eating several scoops of chips and burgers at small town takeaway shops, in an attempt to maintain his body weight during the journey.

Despite his walk being "pretty draining mentally", the teen has met many fun locals along the way.

"Met some cool people, and haven't really spent much time alone yet, which has been epic."

"For me the start was quite a highlight, I was just frothing. Just seemed like I had such a big adventure ahead."

Atawhai hopes he will finish his journey, known as the Te Araroa Trail, as a different person and inspire others with his films along the way.

"Do they trail or bust."

"[I] look forward to every day on the trail, it's pretty fun, and definitely looking forward to the people and places I'll get to see and meet."

- NZ Herald

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