Two friends walking the length of New Zealand to raise suicide awareness have completed the North Island after just 72 days.

Hawke's Bay's Thomas Hanson, 23, and Mitchell Perfect, 22, always knew how high New Zealand's suicide rate was, but it fully hit home when they lost one of their closest friends, Tim, to suicide last year.

They're now walking the Te Araroa trail in his memory as well as hoping to raise $10,000 for the Suicide Prevention Trust. So far they've raised more than $6700.

The two friends described themselves as amateurs before setting off on September 23 for the 3000km walk, not knowing anything about tramping or hiking.


"The experience has been great so far, every day brings something new and various, different high and low points," Hanson said.

Before they set off they shared their planned venture on social media, saying the whole point of the walk was to get people talking.

"We've had a range of people join us, predominantly friends and family, but that has expanded to people who have contacted us via our Instagram page."

The hardest part for the pair was the walk along Ninety Mile Beach. Their bodies strained to get used to their heavy packs as they sank into the sand, while enduring countless blisters.

"We were very happy to get off that beach, definitely underestimated the challenge it quickly became."

Despite the tough start, there have been many highlights - walking through Auckland's CBD to Rotorua's Timber Trail with friends joining them. And they didn't know Mount Pirongia existed until they stumbled across it.

"It was a bit of a climb and really muddy, so rather rewarding getting to the top.

"Paddling the Whanganui river was good as we got off our feet for a bit and meeting people doing that 'great walk' before powering on to turn the eight-day trip into a six.


"It's been a massive experience and we've definitely learned a lot along the way."

Anyone wanting to donate can go to

Their journey can also be followed on Instagram at

Where to get help

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

• Youth services: (06) 3555 906

• Youthline: 0800 376 633

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.