Thomas Hanson and Mitchell Perfect are going to let their blistering feet heal after spending months walking the 3000km Te Araroa Trail to raise suicide awareness.

They set off on September 23 last year and finally completed their journey at Stirling Point in Bluff on February 5.

The idea for the walk brewed after they lost a close high school friend to suicide two years ago. They decided to take on the trail in his memory to raise awareness as well as $10,000 for the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust.

They were overwhelmed with generosity, reaching well over their goal with more than $12,700.


"We spoke with such a range of people across the country, telling our story and sparking conversations around the topic of mental health and suicide here in New Zealand," Hanson said.

"By having these conversations we have got a lot of people talking about these topics and issues across the country. As long as people are starting to have these conversations, the stigma around talking about mental health and suicide will decrease and hopefully in turn help people who are struggling."

Perfect said overseas tourists they met on the trail were shocked when they told them how high the suicide rate was in New Zealand.

"They were puzzled as to why so many people would take their own lives in such a beautiful country. As the conversations carried on people were becoming more open with us and some people even opened up about their own struggles," he said.

The toughest part of the journey for the pair was the long and heavy hike along 90 Mile Beach.

"I fully underestimated the beach thinking it would be a walk in the park. Between the heavy pack and soft sand the days were long and slow."

With the trail complete the pair plan to spend a few weeks off before returning back to the real world.

"I'm planning on taking a couple of weeks to rest the body, let the feet heal before returning to work. Have definitely caught the travel and walking bug, so will see what adventures arise in the years to come," Hanson said.


Perfect agreed and said it felt strange to not be on the journey anymore.

"People warned us about getting the walking bug and coming off 90 Mile Beach I couldn't see myself getting it, the moment we finished I instantly missed walking and could happily start another crazy adventure.

"At the same time after half a year I'm missing work at Roberts Electrical, I'm looking forward to going back."


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Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat

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Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

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