“Mother and Daughter Tackle the NZ-long Te Araroa Trail” Book

“Adventures with Emilie” sub-titled Taking on the Araroa trail in 138 life-changing days” by Victoria Bruce, published by Penguin Random House (NZ), price $40.

Reviewed by Tony Orman

Author Victoria Bruce and her 7 year old daughter Emilie took on the Te Araroa Trail – the length of New Zealand from North Cape to Bluff in a hike that was as much about personal re-assessment for the mother and an educational, character-building experience for the youngster, not forgetting a memorable mother and daughter bonding experience the pair.
For the author the trek was a chance to deal with some demons from an erratic upbringing and adolescent years.
But at the same time, Victoria was undergoing “post-traumatic” stress disorder and was motivated by an urgent desire to quit the corporate “rat race” and as a keen tramper, escape to the wilderness. It reminded me of the words of the great American conservationist John Muir who wrote “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop-off like autumn leaves.”
There also was the wish, as a mother to strengthen the mother-daughter bond, and the Te Araroa Trail was an ideal opportunity. Then there was the chance to reconnect with nature and reality. She quit her corporate job in Auckland and took up the challenge.
The book is very much personal as the author recounts her dysfunctional upbringing, her time in state care and recovering from addiction and assault and overcoming the associated demons. Interwoven is the trail itself and a mother’s and daughter’s bonding during experiences in the wilderness, notwithstanding battling some rugged weather and terrain with one or two hair-raising experiences tossed in. It is an absorbing and engaging read.

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