Since being back I've also found it is actually very difficult to stop physical activity when you have been so highly active everyday and I'm finding myself walking into town, going for runs during the day and am overall generally fidgety now that I'm back in Wellington. Probably not a bad thing that I keep up the fitness levels and make it more a priority in my future world.
The people I met while walking through New Zealand have really given me great confidence that overall we are such a positive, hospitable nation of people. I never had a direct bad people related experience when I was walking or staying anywhere in the last 6 months and never felt I had to worry about my safety. The only odd thing was being left at a bus stop with the bus driving past me on one of my loop catch up sections in Mercer. Other than that one instance, I have never felt so humbly grounded and thankful for the kindness people have shown me. Even on that one occasion with the bus, someone then went totally of their way from their home to drive me to where I needed to go. The support from strangers has been beyond belief.
All the international Te Araroa walkers and fellow Kiwis I met along the way were such inspiring, unique people and I really felt I was travelling the world in my own country every day. I just loved the variety of the people and the different approaches they brought to a very challenging journey through New Zealand. The conversation and laughs we had kept spirits high during some tough days and I learnt a lot about humanity. Friendships and bonds form quickly when you are in extreme circumstances - hunger, tiredness, unwashed bodies, limited privacy, basic tolieting, dangerous terrain and challenging weather conditions strip people right back to the raw core, so you met the real person, not their outside world package. A great learning experience of tolerance and acceptance.
My family and friends have been a huge part of the success of my walk. Their love, encouragement, friendship and company while walking parts of the trail has been energy beneath the soles of my feet many times along the way. The excitement and joy they shared with me when reaching each milestone of the journey throughout New Zealand meant I never really felt alone.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time out to pursue a personal goal to complete the Te Araroa trail and look forward to the challenges that may lay ahead in years to come. While the 3000km trail has now been walked and finished - the personal, physical and mental boundaries have been forever broadened and I can now see are actually endless. It will never really be over.