A Paraparaumu couple will walk the length of New Zealand to raise money for Women's Refuge New Zealand.

Jason Tonkin and Abby Wendy's walk for non-violence will see them tackle the North Island first, from Cape Reinga to Wellington, along the Te Araroa Trail.

It will take them two months to hike over 1600km from October to December.

And towards the end of next year they aim to take on the trail in the South Island which will be about 1400km finishing in Bluff.


The great walk idea happened when Tonkin, who works for the Ministry of Social Development, started to think about other ways to help people.

"We both come from a background of child abuse and family violence and are both appalled at the current statistics on it.

"So we thought what can we do to raise awareness and actually get people thinking and talking about it."

Abby Wendy climbing Colonial Knob.
Abby Wendy climbing Colonial Knob.

The couple, who are happy for businesses to sponsor them, want to raise $10,000 for Women's Refuge New Zealand.

"Women's Refuge seems to be the organisation that picks up the pieces from family violence and sexual abuse," Tonkin said.

They've already raised over $2300 via a Givealittle page which was started in early April.

They will be calling into various Work and Income as well as Oranga Tamariki offices for photo opportunities and social media exposure.

Tonkin started training in January and Wendy a few months later after recovering from a hysterectomy.


They've walked in various parts of the Wellington region enjoying the scenery and getting battle hardened.

The couple love the variety of training walks whether it's along the beaches, Queen Elizabeth Park, Kapakapanui Trail's Goblin Forest, the Butcher Track in Remutaka Forest Park and lots more.

Jason Tonkin in the Goblin Forest.
Jason Tonkin in the Goblin Forest.

"We also love the walk along the Waikanae River, that's a good two hours, and is probably our most regular," Wendy said.

Training walks also involve wearing their backpacks which contain all the essentials the couple will need while out in the wild — tent, sleeping bags, clothes, food, first aid, and lots more.

"I'll be carrying about 22kg maximum," Tonkin said.

Wendy, an artist, hoped to "squeeze in some art supplies".

"But I can't go higher than 15kg and I'm already on about 12.5kg."

Tonkin also trains during the working week by walking down Kāpiti Rd, catching the train, and walking through Wellington to work.

He's drawn the attention of police during his dark early morning walks to the train station.

"They've asked if I'm all right because on the cold mornings I'm wearing balaclava, gloves and backpack."

Their training was dealt a setback during a training walk along the Waikanae River.

"It was 4.30am, pitch black, pot hole, and I rolled down the bank into the river," Tonkin said.

He fractured his right ankle in three places.

"I was out of action for six weeks."

On a brighter note, the training and impending long-distance adventure has a bonus benefit for Tonkin.

"Last year we had a biggest loser competition at work and I dropped 30kg so I want to carry that on."

Jason Tonkin walks along Kapanui ridge.
Jason Tonkin walks along Kapanui ridge.

The mammoth walk, where they expect to cover between 20km and 40km a day, is now imminent.

"A little bit of nerves because it will be a big physical test but I think we will be strong and mentally we are prepared," Wendy said.

"But it's exciting just to get away from it all because I love being in nature.

"For me it will be peace, meditation, nature and walking."

Tonkin was "itching to go".

And when the going gets tough, the reason behind it all will keep them motivated.

"It's quite a challenge for both of us but it's for a good cause," he said.