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Clare Marriott started her walk on November 22 from Cape Reinga. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Vet walks Te Araroa Trail for Fiji shelter

A Thames vet who has travelled all over the world is being a tourist in her own country, determined to complete the lengthy Te Araroa Trail to raise funds for a Fiji animal shelter.

Speaking to The Profile with still 400km left on her journey, Clare Marriott started her walk on November 22 from Cape Reinga. She has been able to take some time off the trail, though, like to go to a wedding in January, hastily swapping her fitness wear for more formal attire.

“I bought a dress about 30 minutes before the shops closed the night before the wedding… I thought as long as I show my face, it doesn’t matter what I look like,” she said.

The Te Araroa Trail is a long-distance tramping route that stretches around 3000kms along the length of the country’s two main islands, from Cape Reinga to Bluff. 

A seasoned hiker, Clare is also an intrepid traveller. From age four to eight, she lived in Kenya, Africa, and she has since visited a further 40 countries. And, as a veterinary locum, Clare, 31, has been able to work around the world. 

She moved to the United Kingdom in 2018 and used the nation as a “bounce pad” to see sites in Europe and Africa. 

After “a year of good times” before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, she worked in Sweden before returning back to New Zealand for Christmas, 2021, securing a MIQ spot with her sister.

From August to September, 2022, Clare went on to volunteer at the Pacific Animal Shelter and Hospital [PASH] in Fiji, an experience she said was “eye-opening”. 

“We’re so lucky in New Zealand; you forget how different things are,” she said. “A lot of people can’t afford the basic worming and flea treatment of their animals, so I saw a lot of diseases that you don’t see in New Zealand.” 

PASH is a charitable organisation and Clare, who hails from Puriri, south of Thames, opted to walk the Te Araroa Trail to raise “vital” funds for the clinic, namely for a blood test machine which she said would help vets make “a rapid and accurate diagnosis of a disease in a sick animal”.

Walking the route would also satiate her thirst for travel.

“When I got back to New Zealand, I realised how cool New Zealand was,” she said. “I think I took it for granted. I met a few tourists who said they were going to a certain place and I realised I’d never actually been there yet.

“So, I thought I should get to know my own country a bit better before my next adventure.” 

Clare has been averaging around 15km a day along the trail, but her longest stretch for one day has been 48km. She hopes to be at the finish line in Bluff by Easter.

“It’s been cool being a tourist in my own country, getting to see all these little towns and meet some really awesome people along the way,” she said.

“I am so grateful for my family and friends for all their encouragement and help they have given me, like sending food parcels and gear along the trail, and also for the kindness of random strangers I have met along the way.” 

DETAILS: To donate to Clare’s epic voyage and her fundraiser for Fiji, visit: