PEACE: Owen Vaughen washes the mud off his feet at Martins Hut in Southland. This was day 122 on the trail. Photos supplied

AFTER 3000 kilometres and 4.6 million steps, Whakatane man Owen Vaughan has completed his goal of walking the length of New Zealand to raise money for charity.

Now, he plans to host a fundraising presentation in Whakatane. Owen started walking the Te Araroa Trail, which stretches from Cape Reinga to Bluff, in October last year and returned home on Wednesday.

The pilgrimage was all to raise money for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, and was supported by the Rotary Club of Whakatane.

“I had been going to an awful lot of funerals in the past four years and I decided to do something different,” Owen says.

“In early June (last year) I had been at another funeral where the minister said to think of a donation. This is when I decided to do the work as a fundraiser. Previously I had been doing section walking of the track with a friend.

“I looked at different organisations and decided on Leukaemia Blood Cancer because it’s one of the cancers that affects everyone from babies to elderly people without much influence from lifestyle choices, it’s quite random.”

Owen walked for four months and one day, taking a total of six days rest in the North Island and three days in the South Island with a rest of seven in-between.

As he walked, he spoke at Rotary clubs along the way, gathering donations as he did while aiming for a goal of $10,000. Owen says the hardest aspect of the walk was the sheer physicality of it.

“It’s just walking day in and day out,” he says.

“In the North Island the walk mainly took me through forests. So many forests and so much mud. I’m talking mud up to your knees.”

While he was supported by Rotary clubs, Foodstuffs also heard of his mission and decided to support Owen by providing food from its North Island Pak ‘n Saves, New Worlds and Four Squares to power him along.

Owen was also supported by the Eastern Bay community with Colin Magee from Radio 1XX interviewing him on his progress every Monday to keep people updated. Following a suggestion from Colin, Owen will be holding a fundraising presentation at the Little Theatre on Monday.

He expects the presentation to last around an hour. Refreshments will be provided and there will be spot prizes and a raffle. The entry cost is $20, with tickets available at Radio 1XX or in the foyer on the night.

For those who would like to donate but can’t make the evening, donations can be made via Owen’s Facebook page Te Araroa Trail – Same Shirt Different Day.

charlotte.jones@thebeacon.co.nz