Te Araroa

Leaving the Trail

We made it 685 kilometres and we just had to pull the pin.

My second youngest brother, Rex has a syndrome. Because of this, everything is much harder for him – balancing, physical strength, being adaptable, and dealing with stress. We did a lot to help him out – he had a very light pack, we set up and packed up for him, he had someone helping him along nearly all the time, and the only thing he really had to do was walk, but after all that he was still struggling.

When he struggles he has volcanic meltdowns, which WE struggled with a lot.

We decided we had to stop because the situation wasn’t improving and we’d run out of things to try. After all, it was meant to be a fun adventure, not torture by struggling brother. Plus, if we had to keep putting up with him I’m not sure who would have killed him first, me or dad.

We were all devastated.

Dad was spewing because he didn’t get to see the bull at kilometre 710 (I believe I’ve mentioned how obsessed he is with bovine!). He also just asked me to make it clear that HE didn’t quit and that he was quite happy to send Rex to an orphanage but he just couldn’t find one in time (and mum wouldn’t let him)!

I was really looking forward to canoeing the Whanganui River, seeing Mount Taranaki, getting to Wellington, Hiking the mountains of the South Island and of course, making it all the way to Bluff.

And all of our trail friends! We meet some great people there.

Thomas, a french thru-hiker, was showing us a riddle, throwing ball up in the air “This is good, this is not good.” None of us could work it out so he told us to think about it while we walked. He didn’t arrive at camp until late that night when we were all in bed and we left before he got up. And that day we stopped so we’ll never know what the answer was. Thomas, if you or Clemont are reading this, please, please tell us the answer in the comments!

We decided to catch a bus back to Auckland so we could think about it. We spent three days in Auckland. It wasn’t very fun. We all felt very down and spent ages trying to work out a solution. We couldn’t come up with one so decided to go back to Australia.

We were on the twelfth floor which felt very high. There was a heated pool in the basement that we went swimming in.

We had dad’s birthday there. It wasn’t a very good birthday as you could imagine. We were still meant to be on the trail and we had a flight to catch at 10 pm.

But we ate well I made him a fruit cake with whipped cream and wraps with homemade flatbreads for lunch.

It’s hard to have to stop, especially as everyone seemed to know us. Word spreads on the trail and everyone knew about ‘the ‘big family hiking’. It feels like we had a reputation to uphold.

Even though we are back in Australia I refuse to give up. I’m almost 16 which means only two years until I am an adult and can return on my own. Although I doubt I will be on my own. My youngest brother, Forrest has invited himself along, despite the fact that he’ll only be 13. Holli and Asha have also decided to come. They don’t want to do a trail by themselves because then they’d get lost and wouldn’t have anyone telling them what to do. I’m not sure if I want to take them all but we’ll see.

Dad and I also made a deal and shook on it, we’ll do a long-distance trail together sometime in the future. Maybe in Europe or America.

Hear that, trail? We might have had to stop but you haven’t beaten me, I’ll be back.


  • Cath Pearson

    Sometimes life throws us curve balls, and it is how we deal with that, rather than the end result.
    Just take care of yourself, and be just a bit gentle on yourself.
    We all admire you and what you tried to do. And remember that most people wouldn’t even contemplate doing what you’ve done. Love to you all. XXX

  • Maddy Churchhouse

    Hey there, devastated to hear you had to pull out early that’s so frustrating and disappointing. I hope you also remember that what you’ve done is incredible and you should all be so chuffed with yourselves! 685 km — bloody hell that’s far! I have no doubt you will be back in a couple of years to complete it all. You are all incredibly inspiring, and an especially well done to Rex because sounds like he was super out of his comfort zone. Good luck with your future adventures of which I’m sure there will be many Xxx

  • Mike Cosgrove

    Hey guy’s, good decision on behalf of brother. We will be watching for further adventures. Keep smiling and looking forward to seeing you back someday.
    Mike and Jackie Cosgrove

  • Paul

    Well, I’m almost relieved to now learn this is the reason for your blogging coming to a halt.
    Despite your disappointment and frustration, my congratulations to you all, including your younger bro. What you’ve embarked on and already achieved is far more than most people would ever contemplate.

    Lastly, the bigger the group, the higher the chances on non-completing the trial, when you consider that for one reason or another, over the course of months and hundreds of kilometers, countless blisters, falls, insect bites, sprains and sunburns, for one reason or another, there’s going to be someone who need to pull out.

    I ‘followed’ (online) the blog of the Ramblin Men (US team of 4 young men). They got all the way to Invercargil before the foot of one of their team left them having to stop. It could be almost more painful for them, to get that close, but not to finish.

    Best wishes to you all (great blogging, thankyou).

    • Gabrielle George

      Thanks for the kind words,
      We had the rule before we started that if something went wrong for someone we’d all stop, so we knew that there was a high chance of this happening.
      Now we’re considering coming back next summer it doesn’t feel quite so bad.

  • Anne

    That is an impressive feat to walk that far. If you had been in Spain you would have completed the Camino… & walked across the country. Also on the Camino it is very common for people to walk in stages & return again and start where you left. So this is just stage 1 done. So buon Camino! … all this Camino talk reminds me I want to return there again…

  • Billie

    Well done and what a great attitude!.
    It was such a pleasure to meet you all. Truely inspirational.
    I’m sad I missed the blog to say you were on your way back to Auckland as you would have been welcome back to mine for as long as you needed. Peaches have all gone now though .
    All the very best. We look forward to welcoming you to NZ when your time is right

    • Gabrielle George

      Thanks heaps for your encouragement and kind words.
      It’s funny that you mentioned the peaches as we remember them as the best fruit we had in New Zealand.
      We’re already scheming about coming back next summer so we might see you then!

  • Niamh

    Hello Gabrielle
    My name is Niamh, and I’m in grade 5 and live in Australia.
    Your life seems AWESOME! I think that doing everything that you’ve done is amazing .
    I wish I could have the adventures that you’ve had, they seem really cool,

    Here’s my blog URL so you can have a look and hopefully comment.


    Good luck on your adventures,

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