Charity walk from Bluff to top of South Island

Keen adventurer . . . University of Otago student Maddy Whittaker on the Mt French summit, with Mt Aspiring in the background. Next month, she will walk from Bluff to the top of the South Island to raise money for Outward Bound. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

While most university students tend to relax after finishing their exams, one student is strapping on her tramping pack and heading off on a 75-day walk of the South Island.

On November 11, University of Otago student Maddy Whittaker (18) will embark on the 1400km walk from Bluff, over the Southern Alps to Ship Cove, in Marlborough Sounds, on Te Araroa Trail.

Maddy said although she had always been “fairly active” she had never tramped until she went on a three-week Outward Bound course in January.

After that, she was hooked.

“It was one of the main things that got me started.

“I am at my happiest when I am in the middle of nowhere.”

Now, she goes tramping or mountaineering most weekends – she has spent more than 60 days in the “wilderness” so far this year – and is a member of the university’s tramping club.

Maddy will be joined by two friends, who will be isolated for about 11 days and sleep in tents or huts.

She will cook dehydrated food, which she will prepare before she leaves and get her parents to send to her next destination.

“I am really excited for this.”

Maddy is doing the walk to raise money for Outward Bound so more people can experience the course.

The money will be put towards scholarships for vulnerable teenagers, she said.

“For me, I saw a lot of people at Outward Bound that definitely got a massive self-esteem boost.

“They had a renewed sense of purpose and came out of it with the attitude that they could achieve anything that they put their mind to and I think those things are a pretty powerful combination to give anyone, let along people in a vulnerable state.”

Maddy said she left the course with a “bigger sense of adventure” and it was a good to rediscover what was important to them, away from the influence of social media.

“I feel like it completely transformed my self-esteem which is really awesome.”

Maddy expects to arrive at Ship Cove in mid to late January.

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