Pals Vini Williams and Jack Keeys aren't the sort to sit around with their feet up.
The ex-Paeroa friends decided to put their tootsies to the test and raise money for underprivileged children by walking barefoot for 100km in five days — and they've just returned.
Their actual time — due to unforeseen circumstances — turned out to be 113km in 101 hours but the pair are proud as punch and have raised nearly $10,000.
The two paired up to create fundraiser Barefoot for a Future to raise money for sports and school shoes for students here and in Africa partnering with the Salvation Army.
In the lead up Vini and Jack pounded the pavement in bare feet — to toughen up trotters — and set off for their April adventure. They completed two of New Zealand's Great Walks barefoot starting with the Abel Tasman Coast Track in the South Island followed by Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk in the north.
''The most difficult parts were at the end of day one and the end of day five,'' Jack says.
''We had to push through some significant mental and physical barriers when walking in the dark, completely exhausted, no service, cold, sore and not sure how long we had to go.
''But what kept us going, was that we knew there are so many young Kiwis who could be both inspired and impacted by us finishing and raising the money, and we knew that long-term impact was worth our short-term pain.''
The tired travellers slept in huts after tending to their battered feet at night.
''We took a first aid kit each and they both got used. Needles to burst fluid pouches in swollen feet, bandages and plasters for cut feet, tweezers for splinters, and lots of anti-septic.''
Jack says one day they collapsed on the tracks more than once.
''It's difficult to articulate how challenging that day was, hobbling on exhausted muscles, raw feet and in the cold and dark with heavy packs and still more to go.''
They walked for 3-4 hours at a time with 30 minute rests, realising that short walks and breaks just made their muscles cold and it was better to do strong segments and allow time for proper refuelling.
Jack says at one point he ran directly into a pig and they both squealed. Vini slit his foot on the final day, which in combination with large open blisters and swollen ankles left him in a rough way. But they pushed on.
''Many people have since said to me 'wow, I didn't realise some kids in New Zealand couldn't afford school shoes or sports shoes' so that was another awesome outcome of this event, to raise awareness of the struggles for some families and kiwi kids, and the opportunities and impact a small thing like shoes can provide.''
Barefoot for a Future rundown
By Jack Keeys
The first day was perhaps over-ambitious! Almost 40km with full packs on day one was extremely tough and pushed us to breaking point. The ground was much tougher than we expected (many paths with small stones and rocks that acted like sandpaper) and being on our feet for 12 hours was tough on the legs.
The beautiful scenery and beaches definitely helped, it was a stunning landscape and the odd beach walk as part of the trail gave our feet some much needed relief.
Day two was shorter but faster, needing 20km before 12.30 to catch our sea-taxi. It started off with a 30minute 6am extremely cold ocean crossing along broken cockle shells which was brutal from both the temperature and the sharpness, but once completed we slowly warmed up to finish-off day two before rushing from walk to water taxi to rental car to Nelson airport, then Auckland airport and then to Paeroa, all by about 9pm.
After replenishing stocks and an early drive, we got to the start of Waikaremoana sore, but excited. Our first day was only 10km, but climbing 600m elevation.
The views of Lake Waikaremoana were absolutely spectacular. We took a lot of photos at the top and still finished in good time.
Day two was tougher – 28km and on sore legs and feet. The mud and leaf litter were much nicer on the feet, but each of us stood on hidden protruding roots about a dozen times which was really sore.
Day three was supposed to be a final 11km and celebrating success. But 3km out we realised there was a mix-up in plans and our pick-up ride wasn't coming. Vini was walking on a sliced foot, open blisters on each of his feet and swollen ankles at this point.
So I ran ahead to complete the track and hitchhike 50km to our car. I had to walk an extra 7km on gravel road to get picked up on the deserted gravel road in the middle of nowhere, but eventually a friendly local came past and dropped me off.
It was on track to be 100km in 100 hours, but ended up being 113km in 101 hours.