Two Northland cops are planning to walk the length of New Zealand to mark the 35th anniversary of the police-run youth charity Blue Light.
Their trek along the 3000km Te Araroa trail will start at Cape Reinga on November 1 and will end, if all goes to plan, about four-and-a-half months later at Bluff.
Along the way the officers will be joined by youngsters from Blue Light for day-long legs of the trail.
The awareness-raising walk is the brainchild of keen hiker Gary ''Gaz'' Hayes — a police constable previously based at Kerikeri and Kawakawa, now in Whangārei — and Alistair Todd, a former Kawakawa and Whangārei detective now living in Auckland.
Walking with them for the 440km section through Northland will be 16-year-old Bay of Islands College student and under-18 Northland rugby rep Tipene Parata from Moerewa.
The trio will get a send-off at the Cape from Northland police and a blessing by Far North kaumātua.
On the first day they will be joined by a group of Blue Light youth from Cape Reinga to Cape Maria van Diemen and back; another group of youngsters will walk with them on November 9, from Ocean Beach Surf Club over Bream Head to Peach Cove car park and back to Ocean Beach.
On November 26 Hayes and Todd will take a detour, along with a group of South Auckland kids, to the top of Auckland's Sky Tower.
The first off-road section of Te Araroa (The Long Pathway) opened in 1995 through Waitangi Forest between Kerikeri and Paihia. The full trail was opened in 2011.
Blue Light is a charity that works with police to deliver programmes and activities for youth such as waka ama, fishing and life skills.
Check out the Facebook page "Gaz and Toddy do Te Araroa" for daily updates and more information about their trek.