How Hiking Changed My Life

Lewis Pass, New Zealand's South island

Lewis Pass, New Zealand’s South island

My life is so good these days I have to pinch myself.  I have hiking to thank for it.

I live a simple yet rich life and a 3000km walk on New Zealand’s Te Araroa trail last year was the kicker that got me started. After it, fear was largely gone. I realised most fears are largely imagined anyway, a construct of my brain, not something to stop me from going forth. I realised how few possessions I actually needed, and how the freedom and simplicity of a walker’s life could bring previously unknown delirious happiness. The urge to know my heart’s desire and then to follow it demanded attention. The old narrow view of my life expanded to reveal the many possibilities available to me.

Leap and The Net Will Appear

Cascade Saddle, South Island, New Zealand

Cascade Saddle, South Island, New Zealand

I’ve had an amazing journey since that one big hike. I quit my corporate job to follow my dreams and I think I can quite safely say its all working out. In the last six months I’ve done more travel, more stunning hiking, and now – through a chance meeting at a hostel in Wanaka – I have the opportunity to sail from Australia to the Caribbean. And all of this has occurred with never more than four days to four weeks of forward planning.

Cover Girl

Cover Girl

I’ve also had time and energy to focus on my personal goals, getting my first few articles published in magazines and making progress on the job of writing the book about my Te Araroa journey.

None of these amazing experiences and opportunities would have occurred had I stayed seated at the swivel chair of a grey desk in a Melbourne skyscraper.

Leap and the net will appear is a pearl of wisdom I discovered years ago but I’d never really tested it to its full until now. Now that I’m living it I truly believe that if you head in the direction you want to go opportunities will arise that you never could have dreamed of or planned for. As Martin Luther King said, “You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.

Live Simple

As a nomad my living expenses have been greatly reduced. There is no car to maintain, no utility bills, no public transport costs, and a minimal wardrobe to update. My life is uncluttered. I no longer feel pressure or find myself rushing.

Live Authentically

But most importantly I have been able to follow my dreams. I think one of the most damaging ways to live is incongruent with the real you – pretending to be happy when you really wish you were doing something else… being somewhere else. If you ever find yourself feeling this way then I wholeheartedly urge you to take the leap and follow your passion.

Listening to my heart rather than my head has also made life a lot more straightforward. No longer do I need to make decisions based on the complicated weighing up of pros and cons. I simply ask myself does this feel good? Am I excited about it? And for some reason when I follow my heart things work out. Ideas sprout. Opportunities arise. The right people cross my path.

Best of all… its fun!

Gillespie Pass Circuit, South Island, New Zealand

Knowing What You Want

Immersion in nature strips away ‘noise’. I’m talking not just about actual noise, but distraction by advertising, consumerism, media, general city-living busyness, and the sort of brain static that goes along with it all that can prevent us from hearing our own inner voice. Nature provides perspective and clarity to find your own personal truths. Then all you need to do is seize them without letting the fear of ‘what if’ stop you from trying.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? 

The Next Leg: Sailing across the world?small

So I’ve not actually done a lot of sailing. In fact my experience has been limited to a week long family holiday cruising up the Coorong River in South Australia when I was 14 on a 21’ yacht. I have been known to get seasick, I’m scared of waves and I’m wondering how I will cope with a total living space of 42’ x 22’. But being a Box-Ticker with a strong FOMO tendency (fear of missing out), I will board Chat Eau Bleu in a few days time to sail from Mackay around to Darwin and, all being well, I will continue west across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans all the way to the Caribbean.

I will hoist the sheets and trim the sails (or something), and explore the many exciting islands and ports along the way. I will learn new skills and become familiar with all the many peculiarities of living on a boat (apparently no more than three squares of toilet paper per flush).

I’m excited to start the next chapter. Fingers crossed I’m up to it!

Until next time me hearties…



6 thoughts on “How Hiking Changed My Life

  1. Laura, so neat to find your blog, and what an incredible accomplishment…..Congratulations.

    Your story is an inspiration. That 1st step is always the hardest, to leave what one has as far as security and familiarity behind.

    All the best in your up and coming Caribbean adventure! 🙂



  2. BAM! You just hit me right where it both hurts, but where I need it the most.
    I have an office job at a university, lots of days off (though i can only go away for 3 or 4 weeks in summer and other than that no more than 1 week) and a great salary.

    But all i want to do is hike, and im not satisfied at all at the moment! I feel locked up, forced to do something im kind of okay with, but not really. I dream about TA every day. I want to discover a new part of myself. I already did one 800 mile hike, and when i finished i had to keep on going. Then i went to NZ for 2 months, really as a tourist, and I loved it! But it doesn’t seem to be enough now.

    Im still living with my parents so moving out now with this great salary would be fantastic of course! But on the other hand, it looks like I might stay a little longer, and if i can gather the courage i will be out there in October 2017.

    Thank you for your words, they help a lot for everybody like me who are still in fear and hesitating!


    • Thanks so much for the comment Linda. I think I know exactly what you’re dealing with. I’m just in the last stages of writing a book about my journey which I hope will speak further to people like yourself who want something more, even if it’s not what others think we ‘should’ be doing. Step on the trail and get out there to follow your heart. Things always work out if you follow your heart I find. Before I hiked the TA I was in fear of my future on it. I wanted to know exactly how everything was going to pan out but of course you can’t know that. Just take a step in the right direction though and this will lead you to where you want to go. x


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