Through fear and toward freedom on TE ARAROA

THERE IT WAS AGAIN: that unbridled sense of fear. It had followed me, a constant companion through every single one of the 1600km I’d hiked so far. It was ever at my back, a shadowy presence that chased me down the trail and often caught me.

I could hardly move from my seated perch at the top of the staircase. I looked down towards almost certain doom at the foot of the hill below. There, cars whizzed along the highway, oblivious to my predicament which was unfolding 140m above on the Paekakariki Escarpment Track. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied the first of the two swingbridges I would have to cross. I was paralysed, stuck fast in the knowledge that my preferred exit (turning around and heading back the way I had come) would not be

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