An Indian who hails from the slums of Chennai has finished a 3000km run in sandals from the top to the bottom of New Zealand.

He said the epic journey was "to push my limits".

Naresh Kumar, 32, wrapped up his journey in Bluff yesterday after completing Te Araroa, the continuous track that begins in Cape Reinga and took him to Middle-earth locations of his beloved The Lord of the Rings movies.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt presented him with a special plaque honouring those who traverse the country.


"When I saw the movie in 2001, I thought, 'Wherever that place is I want to live there - I want to live like a Hobbit,'" the ultra-marathon event specialist said.

His feats in the United States, India and Nepal have a large following and fans have viewed pictures of his New Zealand trip posted on social media.

Mr Kumar applied for residency in New Zealand even before setting foot in the country, and hitch-hiked to Cape Reinga on the day he arrived to begin his journey.

In addition to a small injury in the South Island, he had a "near-death experience" on his travels.

In September, while tracking through an ancient Northland kauri forest, he was swept away by flood-swollen waters in the Waipapa River.

"I wrote in my journal, 'Mum, Dad, I'm sorry, I love you,' and put it in my waterproof pocket in case I did not survive the crossing."

Naresh Kumar ran the length of New Zealand along the Te Araroa trail wearing sandals with Dan Opalacz picture supplied
Naresh Kumar ran the length of New Zealand along the Te Araroa trail wearing sandals with Dan Opalacz picture supplied

Mr Kumar said he had been granted New Zealand residency and was looking for a job, and more long-distance adventures.

He is "chief experience officer" for the Bedrock Sandals company in California and is accompanied on this trip by the company's co-founder, Dan Opalacz. As a poor youth, Mr Kumar enviously watched hordes of passing backpacker tourists in the city of Chennai in southern India.

His own chance to become an adventurer followed when he took up a scholarship to Madras University, and was recruited to Silicon Valley's big software firms as an engineer.

While on Te Araroa for 85 days, he has been raising money for Tear Funds, a New Zealand charity against human trafficking.

He hopes to do more for charity in his next endurance feat: the Cook to Cook Challenge, in which he will climb Aoraki Mt Cook and run from there to Picton, instead of cycling it like other competitors.