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Hiking Aotearoa for Parkinson's

As a child, Syd King dreamt about walking the entire length of New Zealand.

The 3,000-kilometre-long Te Araroa trail opened in late-2011, allowing Syd to finally start planning for his dream.

On October 2019, the 68-year-old began his 7-month-long walk.

Why is Syd Walking?

Syd walking blog

MSA or Multiple System Atrophy is a Parkinsonism condition, where both voluntary and involuntary movement (blood pressure, bladder control or digestion) are affected.

Other symptoms of MSA include anxiety, depression and the “Pisa syndrome”, where you get an abnormally tilted posture like the famous Italian monument.

Syd’s loving sister, Margery Simpson, tragically succumbed to complications from MSA in 2013.

Margery’s passing was a massive blow for all who knew her, in particular, her husband, family and friends.

Syd was close with Margery, and he describes the years leading to her passing as a very sad time.

Syd is walking to raise crucial funds and awareness for Parkinson’s New Zealand, and particularly for the MSA condition.

So far, Syd has raised about $2,900 in support of people with Parkinson’s or Parkinsonism conditions! 

Syd has a Give A Little page to raise funds for people with Parkinson’s, so kindly help him along on his incredible journey!

The Inspiration

syd blog trailwalking

The late Kiwi publisher, Alfred Reed, called himself the “one-man tramping club.”

This was no understatement, as the legendary Reed would occasionally go on 100-kilometer “strolls” in the bush!

When he walked from North Cape to Bluff in the early 1960s at the age of 85, Reed unsurprisingly became a nationwide sensation.

Reading about this great walk in the Southland Times was a 9-year-old boy named Syd King! 

If you would like to track where Syd is currently, here is a link to his location (beamed out by his dandy GPS tracker).

The Start of Te Araroa

te araroa trail

The dream of a national walkway began in the 1970s, although it was only in the mid-90s that any progress was made.

Acclaimed journalist Geoff Chapple began the Te Araroa Trust in 1994, to lead negotiations with local governments.

After ten years and thousands of volunteer hours, the Te Araroa Trail opened in late-2011.

Mapping the Trail

te araroa tough walking

If you drew a straight line from Cape Reinga to Bluff, it will be less than half the distance covered by the Te Araroa Trail!

Walking the trail is a huge logistical challenge.

Figuring out where you need to be and how to get there with enough food, drinking water, a toilet and a place to camp is not an easy task.

Even heavily experienced trampers take at least three months to complete the Te Araroa Trail.

A British marathoner, Jez Bragg, holds the record for assisted trail completion - 53 days.

The trail notes advise 50 – 80 walking days per island (100 – 160 days combined).

To walk one island in 50 days, you need reasonably high fitness levels and good weather.

On the other hand, 80 days is much more practical for slower walkers looking to guard against injury.

Recently, the Te Araroa trail has become increasingly popular with tourists from Europe. 

Walker numbers have leapt from 30 people in the first year to nearly 1,200 in 2018-19!

Syd’s Long Walk

Syd Blog Trailer

Syd says, “I figure that whatever I can do to help Parkinson’s NZ in their support for people who experience these types of conditions, has got to be a good thing.”

Syd’s achievements have got a lot of eyes looking at Parkinson’s New Zealand, and the free services we provide.

Thanks a lot to Syd for his tremendous sacrifice and incredible gesture of empathy towards other Kiwis with Parkinson’s.

Syd is well aware that at his age, an injury or illness can put a stop to his dream walk.

We only hope that he can complete the Te Araroa trail safely, and continue making Margery proud of him!

If you want to keep up with Syd’s updates along the trail, then follow him on Instagram - @sydk60.

Syd has a Give A Little page to raise funds for people with Parkinson’s, so kindly help him along on his incredible journey!

January 2020 Update

Syd has had to put an end to his dream of walking the Te Araroa trail, bogged down by a heavy backpack and steep tramping conditions.

Check out this video, detailing his reasons for heading back home near the Richmond Ranges.

How can Parkinson’s New Zealand help?

We offer professional support to people living with Parkinson’s

Our team of Parkinson’s Community Educators develop high-quality medical care plans, while also providing in-depth information.

They connect people with Parkinson’s to speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.

Parkinson’s NZ also runs networking support groups and exercise classes, while also offering physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, as well as art/music therapy sessions to members.

Get in Touch

If you’d like to contact our charity and avail of our free services, then give us a call on 04 801 8850 today!

If you’d like to show your support to the service we provide to people with Parkinson’s, then please make a donation!

To find out whom to contact and what services are available in your area, simply head over to Regional Support.