PREPARATIONS FOR A THRU-HIKE

What am I thinking? Am I really about to sell off my life, downsize to a mere few boxes and leave for an undetermined amount of time in New Zealand by myself? Am I really thinking this through? Is this rash and crazy? 

Yes, these are the thoughts I have. After 8,000 miles, I still ask myself these questions.

Fortunately these questions about myself and the decisions I make don’t stick around in an obsessive, panic-stricken fury. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten older and therefore more experienced—or at least I like to think—but I seem to be more rational with my thoughts these days. Instead, these thoughts drift into my periphery to which I give them the appropriate amount of attention and then I send them back out to sea.

Like the popular saying goes, and like the lyrics from one of my favorite musicians, Tristan Prettyman, it says: “Listen to your heart. It’ll tell you what you need.” I’ve listened. This is exactly what I need.

I’d describe this next thru-hike as a sort of cathartic purge. That and the beginning of a whole new chapter. It’s not everyday that a 29-year old woman can dismantle her life, sell off that of which she doesn’t hold dearest and pack the remaining into a few boxes. It’s not often that someone is met with so much unrestricted freedom that they can pack it all up, travel across the ocean with the potential of not coming back for the next year.

A whole year? Possibly. As it is, my time is running out to go galavanting across New Zealand without any time restraint barking down my back. There’s a very real possibility that I might hike the Te Araroa and return to Bend, Oregon and return to a similar life like the one I currently live. There’s also the likelihood that I might return to Bend to go back to school or I’d move to Portland, Oregon to study Cartography at Portland State University. I could also return to Oregon on a fabulous advance for my next book, which is unlikely seeing that the first has yet to be published. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she. Then, as I mentioned, I might stay in the land of the kiwi until the end of 2014. Why not?

You see, there’s a pretty neat VISA that one can get for New Zealand. Essentially, if a person like myself is within the ages of 18–30, you can apply for this visa and stay up to a year.

It’s called a working holiday—which the name alone makes me giddy as in America, “working” + “holiday” are not two words that you’d see happily locking arms together. That said, there are unlimited visas, which is great because I have yet to apply for such visa despite leaving by the New Year.

Requirements for eligibility: (taken from the New Zealand Immigration website):

You must:

  • usually be permanently living in the United States of America—this means you can be temporarily visiting another country when you lodge your application.

I’ve been a permanent resident for my entire life, which as a traveler is quite defeating to admit.

  • have a passport from the United States of America that‘s valid for at least three months after your planned departure from New Zealand

Just got it renewed. I made sure to have a pretty mugshot to go along with it, too.

  • be at least 18 and not more than 30 years old

I’m currently 29 years old, turning the big 3-0 at the end of February. Consider sending me birthday card, will ya. I’m actually quite the social person these days despite taking off on solo adventures and there’s nothing better than a birthday card to remind me how much ya’ll love me.

  • not bring children with you

Won’t be a problem. At the time of the trip I will be childless, without a job, without a permanent residence, without a vehicle, without a boyfriend and without a 5-year plan. 

  • hold a return ticket, or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket*

I plan to purchase my ticket by the end of September, if not earlier, ideally with a flexible return date. I desire such ticket because it is cheaper to buy a round-trip with a flexible date. If I’m not mistaken I can buy a ticket with flexible date insurance, and I am free to move that date around if it’s within a 12-month window. This is proving a little tricky because if I decide to stay a year than that 12-month window will expire prior to when I’d want to return. Thoughts? That said, I’d like to apply for the plane ticket sooner that later so as to a)avoid sky-rocketing plane fares, b)apply for this visa and c) to book it on my calendar and let the rest of the magic fall into place. That and to prevent me from utilizing my time in an inefficient manner whilst looking at plane fares several times a week and/or day. (FYI: Plane fares have barely hiccuped in fluctuating prices). Did I ever mention that I’m compulsive and have an addictive personality? It’s what fuels these long-distance hiking endeavors, afterall.

  • have a minimum of NZ$4,200 available funds to meet your living costs while you’re here

1 New Zealand Dollar equals 0.79 US Dollars. After converting the numbers, I need $3,302.88. Check, but not by much. My goal is to have $1,500 US to come back to and to have at least $5,000 to my name AFTER purchasing my plane ticket. I could do the trail and return to the states on a smaller budget, but I’d like to be prepared. 

  • meet our health and character requirements

I’m a thru-hiker with an olympic athlete’s resting heart-rate when I’m at my prime. I think I’ll be okay.

  • hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation insurance for the length of your stay

This, sadly, I haven’t given much thought about. I will certainly look into finding the most basic, least expensive insurance available. To be honest, I’d rather spend my money supporting New Zealand’s economy, be it in the form of lodging, dining—very much so the dining—or entertainment. Damn insurance.

  • be coming to New Zealand to holiday, with work or study being secondary intentions for your visit

I’m hiking an 3,000K (1,800 mile) trail. I definitely have my priorities to holiday in order.

  • not have been approved a visa under a Working Holiday Scheme before.

First timer, here. All set for take-off.

For more information on traveling to New Zealand, visit:

http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/work/workingholiday/default.htm

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