Whangārei policeman Gary Hayes has outdone even his own estimation by walking the length of New Zealand along the Te Araroa trail two weeks faster than he planned.
Hayes started his 3000km walk at Cape Reinga on November 1 last year and will officially finish when he arrives at Bluff on Friday. He will walk the final 35km from Invercargill along the State Highway to the infamous Bluff signpost supported by local police officers, Blue Light branch members and youth.
The aim of Hayes' walk was to raise awareness of the great work the police Blue Light does throughout New Zealand's 68 branches in support of youth, especially those experiencing disadvantage or who are at risk.
The Whangārei officer estimated the trail would take four and a half months to complete.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Since starting his trek he has pushed his body hard, climbing 1267 stairs at the Sky Tower, walking at times up to 18 days straight through extreme weather conditions such as searing heat on the roadside and freezing conditions on mountain peaks.
He has battled thick bush, crossed raging rivers, and endured blisters, wasp stings and sleepless nights from an aching body.
Pushing Hayes throughout it all has been his dedication to the cause, plus the support of family and friends.
"I won't let you all and Blue Light down, " he said.
"With a little help and luck I want to give an opportunity to allow our youth of today to strive to do more for themselves and give them the confidence needed to step forward into their future with a can-do attitude".
Blue Light delivers national programmes such as Life Skills and Leadership camps, Kids Gone Fishin' Days and PCT challenges, as well as activities at a local level such as waka ama, adventure camps and community volunteering.
Throughout his walk Hayes has raised money for Blue Light through donations and is aiming to reach $3000 — a $1 for each kilometre he has travelled.
• If you want to donate, click on https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/Walking-Te-Araroa-for-Blue-Light