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...Roaming the cliffs in the morning light,
Hearing the gulls that cry there
Nor knowing where I'll sleep tonight
And not much caring either...

A.R.D (Rex) Fairburn

..Rex Fairburn - Photo: Clifton Firth

(except it's evening light: Mercer Bay, Piha)

Dave's Dance with cancer ended in February 2012.

His nephew is intending to maintain the site in his memory. Please note that the information contained in the site is "as is" and is not being updated or amended.


I first encountered Rex's poetry in my late teens, and I've never grown tired of it. Rex walked everywhere, and much of his poetry contains in its context some hint or more of a walker's perspective, a walker's timetable.

I'm late sixties, 181cm tall, 123 kg, with a couple of artificial hip joints, but otherwise in good health. Miranda is mid-fifties, in good health and of average to OK fitness. (Miranda and I separated at the beginning of 2009, but she remains a substantial part of the track reports.)

In the middle of 2004 we decided as a project that we would walk the Heaphy Track in March 2005, 82 kilometres over six days, carrying 16-18 kg packs.

The big challenge of the Heaphy, for the relatively unfit such as we were, (and the relatively fat such as I am) is the first day, in which we climb 700m over 17 km, steady, uphill, all day. DOC, in a grossly misleading piece of advice, advertise this as a 5 hour walk.

In the end, it took us 8 hr 30 including a 2 hour shutdown at the Aorere Shelter, but worth every minute of the training we put in for it as the Perry Saddle Hut appeared round the corner of the track and we looked back to the east at the country we had just come through.

September 2004 we began serious training on the streets around Helensville, and on local Auckland walking tracks, building up from a couple of kilometres at first, then a regular 5-8 km most nights, to a 15km hike a week or two before we headed south, gradually increasing the weight in our packs until we were comfortable with full packs over an extended period.

This site is a record of our experience, up to the Heaphy, and beyond. It is a record of the places we have been and contains a heap of information we wished we'd had in one place when we first started out. It is an indication of what may be possible for people who regard themselves as too old or too fat to walk far.

But please, check with your medical practitioner before you start.

In 2006 we knocked off the St James Walkway, and had a look at Moke Lake just out of Queenstown, and tried a number of other short walks. February/March 2007 we finished the Greenstone and the Mavora Lakes tracks and the Lake Rere Circuit off the Greenstone Track. We came into the Greenstone from the Divide via the first day of the Routeburn. We also had a brief look at the Central Otago Rail Trail, and a few others, and Miranda went climbing mountains for a week while I drove the van home.

December 2007. We completed the Waikaremoana Lake Track and the Waikareiti Lake Track. I spent some time walking the tracks around Mt Holdsworth near Masterton, and around the Otaki Forks area, and Miranda explored Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro walking tracks.

2008 gave us a closer look at the Tararuas, especially the area around Mt Holdsworth, but going a bit further inland than we have done up to now. We also walked the Lake Waikareiti Track through to Sandy Bay Hut.

2009 Miranda and I separated at the beginning of the year, and tramping for me has largely been on hold as I navigated through the post-separation period, but I am looking forward to some more activity in a month or two, as the Waitakeres dry out, and possibly a longer walk if I can get fit enough and light enough. Destination still uncertain.

Bon Voyage!

.... Put one in front,
...Then put the other.
...Same old way
...I learned from my mother

......................Rex Fairburn



Track Reports

Annotated ARC

The Fathmandu Trail




In the Steps of Jack Leigh


Fitness Building for the Elderly and Stout

Food for Tramping

General Advice:
Specifically oriented to the Heaphy Track but relevant to other long walks for beginners and older walkers

New Zealand Plants
(an ongoing project)

Links to Tramping Resource Websites