The motivation behind the #40by40 volcano quest

When I first embarked on my quest last year to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I was img_0842driven by the desire to challenge myself, push myself outside my comfort zone and find my full potential. Ultimately, I was in search of a new me, to find out who I really was and what I was capable of.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the year and a half since I started this journey of self discovery has been a bit of a rollercoaster. The mental challenge to start and continue has been immense, and it’s been a shock and something of a revelation as to how my mind works and how much I doubt myself and my abilities. And that is incredibly depressing, which really just adds further fuel to the self-doubt fire, becoming a vicious cycle of self-doubt heaped on self-doubt. Continue reading

How I found my outdoor adventure mojo

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I’m actually pretty new to this hill walking and mountain climbing business – although I think I’ve always loved the idea of it but have just always found excuses why it wasn’t for me.

Well that all changed at the end of 2014: that’s when I found my outdoor adventure mojo and new-found passion of walking in the wilderness.

However, it wasn’t the best introduction – rather more like baptism by fire, to be honest.

Continue reading

An adventure into the New Zealand wilderness

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We arrived in St Arnaud, in New Zealand’s Nelson Lakes, to persistent drizzle and a grey cloud that hung in the air and made driving difficult. It wasn’t a great start to a three-day walk into New Zealand’s wilderness, and a real mood-dampener considering the bad luck we had already had with the inclement Kiwi weather.

The blood-sucking sandflies – infamous in the South Island’s Nelson Lakes region – were also out in force, driving my friend Julia into her tent in the wake of their bloodlust. The shower of insect repellent she sprayed in the cramped confines of her tent resulted in a dramatic coughing fit and the near expulsion of a lung.

The adventure was going swimmingly!  Continue reading

Planning isn’t everything

Yip, I admit it, I’m a control freak. I love planning and I love making to-do lists. And the recent month-long trip to New Zealand was no exception – I had a detailed calendar of our movements, a spreadsheet, and an A4-page to-do list to make sure all logistics and bookings were sorted.

It worked like a dream. I was so organised. I knew where we had to be and when, my parents knew our whereabouts and what days we were in for dinner, and it largely worked at keeping the boyfriend in line and on time (no mean feat that last one I can tell you!).

Happy days!

However, there was one thing I hadn’t factored in during my planning extravaganza… Continue reading

Interview with Tough Girl Sarah Williams

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Meet Sarah Williams!

Sarah is a former finance guru who quit her city job after eight years to spend 18 months travelling the world and deciding what to do with her life. Once back in the UK she set up Tough Girl Challenges and the very successful Tough Girl Podcast as a way of motivating and inspiring women and girls. In 2016, Sarah completed the Marathon des Sables, the six-day 251km ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert that has been dubbed the toughest footrace on earth. Later this year, Sarah takes on the US’ 2,190-mile-long Appalachian Trail with the plan to thru hike it in 100 days.

 Here, Sarah talks about setting out on a new direction, fears about what people might think and focusing on the journey.  Continue reading

Third time lucky: I finally tick off volcano number seven

20170316_124710_resizedFinally, a day of sunshine!

I almost couldn’t believe it – I had to pinch myself to make sure – but there it was, crisp blue sky and a white-gold orb coating my immediate world in warm rays of sunshine. No rain to be seen; not even a cloud.

It was rejoice-worthy.

The majestic-ness of the day was in stark contrast to a mere few days ago when a weather bomb had hit New Zealand and put paid to my attempts at climbing the volcanoes Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Taranaki – what should have been volcanoes seven and eight in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40).

But finally, the weather gods were in good moods – today I was going to climb Rangitoto.  Continue reading

I don’t believe it…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rain on the tent sounded like an army chucking thousands of buckets of water over it. It had sounded like that all night; a constant drumming as the torrential rain pelted the tree above us, which jettisoned the water directly onto our tent. To say it was wet was an understatement.

We’d completed the three-day Tongariro Northern Circuit trek the evening before and had set up camp in Whakapapa Village (it had already started to rain by that point). I was still gutted that I hadn’t been able to climb Mt Ngauruhoe – what should have been volcano number seven in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40) – because of the crappy weather. But this would be rectified – the plan today was to make the drive west towards Mt Taranaki, the 2,518m peak that pokes out the side of the west of New Zealand’s North Island. Tomorrow we would climb. Continue reading

Volcano number seven: foiled by the weather

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Are there any questions? Does anyone have other plans for tomorrow?” the hut warden Sally asked the motley group of trampers as we huddled in the Mangatepopo hut on the skirts of the Tongariro National Park in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. Outside the wind was buffeting against the hut’s wooden walls, whipping the tussock grass (and tent flies) into a frenzy. But inside, it was cosy; the wood-burner was alight, slowly drying wet clothes whose pungent steamy fumes mingled with the homely scent of Pizza Hut pizzas some entrepreneurial Germans had carried up from civilisation.

I raised my hand, catching the eye of Sally. “We’re planning on climbing Mt Ngauruhoe tomorrow,” I ventured tentatively, worried I knew the response. Sally had already mentioned the weather conditions for the next day and while rain wasn’t going to be a massive problem (at least not until the evening) the wind was going to be frenetic, with gusts around 45km. Continue reading

10 reasons I love New Zealand

Well I’m back in London after a hectic and fun-packed month traipsing around my home country New Zealand. As I sit at my computer, wading through a month’s worth of unread emails, and staring out the window at the spring blossoms and daffodils, I can’t help but feel a pang of holiday blues. I’ve lived in London now for almost 11 years but I still love New Zealand. This is why. Continue reading