Rebecca Cox has set herself a tough challenge - she is walking the length of New Zealand with the aim of raising $60,000 for Oxfam's rural training centres in Vanuatu.
The architectural designer passed through Wanganui yesterday on her way south, having so far raised over $7000 towards her goal. "I became interested in the work being done in Vanuatu and I was motivated by a kind of 'geeky' architectural perspective to begin with because they are building some amazing cyclone-proof structures there," she said.
"Vanuatu has such a young population and the education programmes that Oxfam is running there are fantastic because they are building foundations and not just providing band-aid solutions."
Ms Cox has completed Oxfam's annual Trailwalker Challenge in Taupo where teams of four take on the challenge of completing 100km in 36 hours and it inspired her to take on her current quest.
"I gave up my job and my flat to set out from Cape Reinga at Labour Weekend and my parents have given me amazing support.
"Mum and Dad have each walked 100km of the trek with me which is amazing because they are not experienced trampers.
"My mother undertook the 90 Mile beach part of the walk with me and it was arduous - you see ocean and sand hills and the only things that break up the scenery are jelly fish and the occasional puffer fish so I'm really grateful to Mum for doing that part of the journey with me."
The former Whangarei resident now lives in Auckland. There have been other fellow travellers along the way including a French couple met at Kerikeri, and American Shane Von Schlemp. Ms Cox left Wanganui on her own yesterday but says she is likely to meet up with some of her companions again and hopefully meet some new ones. She is following the Te Araroa Trail, taking in 3000km of tracks and roads starting at Cape Reinga and ending in Bluff where Ms Cox plans to be "drinking celebratory bubbles by April."
"I am making sure I take every step of the trail. Some people hitch rides along the way and count it as part of the journey but I won't be doing that."
To see her updates or make a donation visit oxfam.org.nz and enter Trekking Today, Training Tomorrow or send an email to email@example.com