Expedition Stewart island.
Welcome to the first of many blogs about Stewart island. I hope to capture your imagination with the stories of my adventure.
The day before.
My brain was full of information firing off in every direction at every moment. I knew what I had to do but it seemed like too much for me. I took a few deep breaths and realized my ADHD brain had got the better of me. I needed to relax, but I couldn't. I was so stressed out about the unknown! I was stuck worrying about the future and remembering the past. I was so stressed out about leaving the civilized world. I know what its like to be alone, so to set off on a solo trip for 35 days was going to be so intense, like nothing I had ever done before. I had to carry 35 days worth of equipment with me. It had to be everything I would need to survive any situation I found myself in. On top of that, all the camera gear to capture the adventure with and the technology to charge it. I was sitting there on the floor of my parent's house having a total meltdown. I had all the gear I needed! I know because I had just picked it up from Kathmandu. I knew I was prepared for anything. I had it sprawled out all over the floor and I had no motivation to pack it into my bag. Inside my head was this dark fear that I would never return to the real world. To be honest, I never have. I came back from walking around New Zealand with a completely changed perspective on life and found I couldn't fit into any part of normal society. There on the floor, I realized that it was happening again. I was excited but terrified it was such an overwhelming feeling. I slowly got my gear together and systematically packed it into my bag. I knew exactly where everything needed to go. Packing is like second nature to me at that moment packing this bag was what I was born to do. It wasn't long till I had put everything inside and squeezed the lid shut. I nervously went to bed knowing that when I woke up, it was the day. The trip was all go.
Now it's obvious that there was so much more that went into the planning of this trip it wasn't just packing. I will start at the beginning. I was sitting on my bed with my friend Lucy and I was telling her about my adventure around the coast of New Zealand. She asked "What about Stewart Island" it got me thinking, I knew it would be the wildest place I have ever been. I decided it had to be done! I had always been drawn to this part of New Zealand, it was the closest I could get to Antarctica. I knew that at some point I was going to be the lowest person in New Zealand and that excited me. I knew at that moment, I had flicked a switch in my head that once on, will not and cannot be stopped. I had my dream, I had the next adventure on my mind.
The Planning I created a great big map of Stewart Island, I printed out lots of sections of the maps and began cutting them out and taping them together. This map was huge. Now this is a very important part of my planning process, I stuck this map to the roof of my room so every morning and every night it was the first and last thing I looked at. It was a friendly reminder of my goal, without that it would have been very easy to become lost and lose the drive to live my dream. I had quite a lot of help from my agent on this adventure, she set up lots of meetings with different sponsors for me. Kathmandu came on board pretty quickly. They were so excited to help me make this dream come true. That took so much pressure off me not having to worry about my gear. Now all I had to do was plan the route and sort food out! The food wasn't hard to come by, but I needed something specific. I got out my compass pulled my map off the roof and started mapping the route. My plan was to start in Oban the only town on the Island. I was going to head around the northern track until I reached the point where the track cut back inland. From there I was going to be walking into the wild. No tracks, no people. I quickly realized it was way bigger than I originally thought. It was going to take between 30-40 days to travel about 450km around Stewart Island. The thought of carrying 40 days of food was so daunting. I gave my mates at Absolute Wilderness a call. (They make in my opinion the best freeze-dried foods on the market) I put in a special request for 30 100g meals vacuum packed as flat as possible so they would fit in my bag. Another big part of the planning stage was making sure I had all the right permissions from the right people. For this trip, I called the Maori Land Trust on the Island and explained what I was doing. They were so happy to help. I have found when it comes to dealing with permission to cross land it can sometimes be very scary approaching someone about it, but 98% of the time if you're doing nothing wrong or destructive, people are more than happy to let you through/onto their land. I had my gear, I had my maps, I had been given access to the land that I needed to cross. Everything was ready, now I just had to wait...
Sometimes this stage can be one of the hardest, waiting to leave. It was only 3 months, but so much can change in such a short time. I had my plan, my mind was ready to set off now and get started on this epic adventure. But the life I was currently living was still in full swing, I was studying Adventure Tourism at NMIT. I needed to finish what I had started with that. The closer the date got to setting off, the more excited about the adventure I became. I had been into Kathmandu and picked up all my equipment, It was such a cool feeling going into a shop and filling a bag with all the gear I needed. As well as being excited I was also filled with a feeling of worry. I knew I was going to be lonely, I knew it was going to be hard. I had forgotten how strong those feelings really become, even before I was lonely. I was worried about being away from my partner for so long.
This was going to be one of the most challenging trips of my whole life!
from here the fun begins.