A long walk had always been on Dean Raynel's wish list - but it was losing 30kg and adopting a healthier lifestyle that gave him the confidence to get started.
The Whāngārei probation officer set out from Cape Reinga to walk the North Island on the Te Araroa trail on December 2. His mother and stepfather both work for Alzheimer's Northland, and he decided to fundraise for it.
The organisation supports 600 families in Northland. Extra money allows it to provide extra services. His goal is $5000, and he's pleased to have topped $3000 already.
Raynel is recording the his journey daily, in a blog and as thepathlesstravelled on Facebook.
He took three months off work for the journey, and is on schedule to reach Wellington on February 9. After that it will take him another few years to save up enough annual leave to walk the South Island section.
He's carrying 15-18kg in his pack, including a small tent, sleeping mat and water filter. He had a rest day in Whanganui yesterday,before setting off on what will mostly be a road walk to Palmerston North.
It took Raynel a year to prepare for his walk. His fitness has been adequate, and is improving.
"The more you do, the more confident you are about how much you can get out of one day. Doing 30-plus kilometres a day seemed difficult. I'm confident now that I can. No matter what the terrain, I'm fit enough to keep going."
Highlights so far have been walking the Tongariro Crossing and canoeing the Whanganui River.
There have been tough times too - slogging the endless sand of Ninety Mile Beach, or the 12 hours of mud in Northland's Raetea Forest. The day heading south from Owhango was tough too.
"It was 37km and raining all day. The rivers were all up and we were lucky to get across. We were glad to get out the other end of it."
Despite the difficulties, Raynel doesn't really want the walk to end.
"I'm enjoying it more and more. It's so different from what you are used to. It's like living in a different reality," he said.
+ Donations to Alzheimer's Northland can be made online at the everydayhero website, after first searching for "the ultimate memory walk" or click