Walking the entire length of Ninety Mile Beach and over some of Northland's major hills is a massive undertaking, but that's just the start of Annie Chapman's epic trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Ms Chapman is walking the Te Araroa Trail to raise awareness for alternative ways of treating mental illness, after several years working in the sector convinced her there were better treatment methods than medication alone.

The Wellington woman began her walk at Cape Reinga on December 12, setting off down Ninety Mile Beach, and plans to have the trail finished at the bottom of the South Island in May.

Stormy weather meant she missed doing the Omahuta-Puketi Forest section of the trail, and she was to head north from Whangarei over the weekend to complete that section.


Ms Chapman enjoyed the relaxed way of life of the people she met in the Far North, and the scenery.

"Talking to local people, I really enjoyed the slower rhythm of life up there."

She said nearly every person she talked to had their own story of mental illness, and agreed with her push to change the way it was treated.

"If you're suffering from mental illness, the last thing you want is to feel more isolated. Current treatments do isolate people." Ms Chapman favoured more use of support groups, personal advocacy and other similar treatments.

She is working towards a petition to Parliament looking at changing the way mental illnesses are treated.

Any money raised along her walk, above what she needed for expenses, would be donated to the Hearing Voices Network, which raises awareness and helps people who hear voices and have visions.

Annie Chapman is holding a public meeting at the Old Library in Whangarei on January 17 from 5.30pm to discuss her walk and her cause.

She then leaves from Marsden Point on January 20 to continue the Te Araroa trail the length of New Zealand.


Anyone who wants to help can do so by donating food, accommodation and other expenses, or by organising meetings in their area when Ms Chapman passes through.

You can donate a one-off payment or a small weekly automatic payment for the duration of the walk to bank account 38-9006-0205358-03 Ann Chapman-Hikoi. Email anniechapman@actrix.co.nz if you can help, and follow her progress on Facebook here.