Two close friends from Taradale are walking the 3000km Te Araroa Trail within the space of four months to raise awareness about suicide, as well as raise money for charity.

Thomas Hanson, 23, and Mitchell Perfect, 22, always knew how high New Zealand's suicide rate was, but it didn't hit them properly until they lost their close friend Tim this time last year.

They all attended Taradale High School together and had moved to Dunedin for study when things began to change.

Read more: Hawke's Bay suicide figures equal previous highest
STAROS: Created to help others affected by suicide
Hawke's Bay local to speak at international suicide symposium


"I was living with him for two years in Dunedin," says Perfect, "then last year he was living with a group of random people, then that's the last time we saw him."

Hanson is in the teaching profession and was on a placement in Dunedin when he received the call about Tim's death.

"It was a shock, everyone rallied together, we had about five or six people move into our flat so we could all keep an eye on each other."

Perfect however, was alone in Hawke's Bay when he found out.

"I Skyped in to check how everyone was doing, but I went back to work straight away. I guess I was in shock and didn't really know how to react. Then a few days later it kicked in and I couldn't really cope and took a week off.

At first I couldn't believe it, it took a while to absorb."

About four months before Tim's death, Hanson said they were all talking about wanting to do the PCT, a walk that stretches from the Canadian to Mexican border and is 4279km long.

"We had planned to do the walk in the next couple of years and since his death we've decided to carry on that legacy for him, but before that we're going to warm up with the Te Araroa Trail."

"We probably don't know enough about hiking or anything like that so we thought this was a good place to start," laughs Perfect.

"When we do the walk we'll be updating our location constantly on Instagram, so if people want to join us for a day we can cruise with them. People can just come out and talk to us, clear their head, even stay the night if they have a tent."

Hanson said the whole point of the walk is to just get people talking.

"It would be ideal if people did walk with us, but other than that, doing the walk allows us to get talking to people and that's our major push.

We just want people to tell their story in whatever way they can to let people know there are people going through the same thing and there's a lot of support."

Hanson and Perfect aim to raise $10,000 for Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust, so far they've raised just over $2000.

They're due to set off on the walk on September 23.

Those who want to make a donation 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)
• The Word
• 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.