If you live in New Zealand, there’s not much to do other than walk. When people here say walk, they usually mean a 4 kilometre hike. You can walk in the bush, in the forest, across hills and on beaches. Then for a change you can get up on Monday morning and walk to work. And people do this in sunshine and in the face of gale force winds. If it’s raining, they’ll make a concession and wear a jacket.

I’ve been here two years and it’s never occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I go for a walk?’. It’s just not my thing, you see. But this spring, today to be precise, I found myself thinking it was a nice day to go for a walk.

My modus operandi for going places is to familiarise myself with the first half of the route to get there and then improvise on the rest. I once spent an entire morning driving in all four cardinal directions and on all the major motorways in Auckland trying to pick up a piece of mail. It was a 15 minute trip that I turned into a 45 minute adventure ride.

So this time I decided to be methodical about the whole thing. I went to a lovely website that the regional council maintains about various tracks and walks available throughout the region. After rooting through a number of options and asking for recommendations, I settled on something called Fairy Falls Walk, which the site said was a lovely walk through forests, ascending a gentle incline to end up at the top of some falls. I made sure the trail rating was ‘for people who have no experience and no stamina’.

The Department of Conservation chappies also recommended I let people know where I was going, so if I didn’t turn up a month later they could come looking for what was left of me out in the woods. This being New Zealand there would be a significant bit left, because we have no wild animals here. Nothing dangerous, nothing scary and nothing poisonous. Anyway, having taken their advice to heart and having announced my intention to leave, I then proceeded to pack for this mammoth (for me) undertaking.

My survival rations included such hiking staples as Oreo cookies and Super wine biscuits. I also packed warm essentials like gloves, scarves, jackets and even a blanket. You know, in case I got lost in the woods and had to spend the night.

Instead of my usual tour of all the freeways, I decided to be a bit more planned this time. I checked maps and even wrote down landmarks that I would see on the way.

AA Roadside Assistance is a wonderful service where if you break down and the place under the hood of your car is one giant black box to you, the nice fellows from AA come and sort it out for you. I thought that might be a useful number to have handy. Of course to avail of this service I would need a cell phone, so I made sure my phone was all gassed up and good to go.

Course charted, survival rations packed and back up arranged, I headed out the door.

I was back in front of the telly in 5 minutes.

The damn car was punctured.

So much for walking.

Mental note: Never try to be organised.

And never go walking when the telly is an option. Much less planning involved.

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