1700kmdown, 1300 to go for retiree
At 76, Ken Ash is on his way to becoming one the oldest people to have walked the entire length of the country.
Ash, who began walking the 3002km Te Araroa Trail in November last year, completed the North Island leg on Thursday after what had been a challenging six months both on and off the road.
A foot infection and subsequent ankle problem forced him to abandon the walk north of Auckland, leading to a two-month break, but as soon as it healed he restarted where he left off.
‘‘The walk itself has been quite hard, and you do have to be really careful along the way, because being alone an accident would be pretty bad.’’
Ash recently retired from the Open Polytechnic, where he worked as a plumbing, gasfitting and drain laying tutor. The trail
‘‘The walk itself has been quite hard.’’
seemed like an ideal way to keep him busy while also raising money for charity.
He has chosen to walk in support of the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand after neurological conditions affected his loved ones.
‘‘My wife was diagnosed some years ago with multiple sclerosis, my mother developed Alzheimer’s and a couple of workmates recently had strokes,’’ he said.
‘‘The foundation does a lot of great work researching different brain conditions and I wanted to help them raise funds so they could keep doing what they do.’’
While Ash said he had loved seeing so much of New Zealand during the North Island leg, it was the generosity of people along the way that had left a lasting impression.
‘‘The people you meet, the kindness they showed me along the way. You remember them far more than any of the places.’’
While no records are kept of walkers’ ages, it’s likely Ash will be one of the oldest people to have ever walked the entire trail – that is, if he successfully finishes it.
However, for the next few months, he will be lying low at home in Paraparaumu in anticipation of beginning the South Island leg come summertime.
To follow Ken’s progress and donate, visit givealittle.co.nz/ fundraiser/kenwalksaoteoroa.
Kapiti man Ken Ash is walking the length of the country for charity. He reached Wellington on Thursday, ahead of a few months’ break before he starts the South Island leg.