That changed for me in August 2013 when I started work at the Joint Centre for Disaster Research (Massey University and GNS) as my first task was analysing interviews from Christchurch GPs about their earthquake and recovery experiences.
The key thing that dawned on me was that I was working in Wellington and my kids were at school/kindy up on the Kapiti Coast and I would struggle to get home quickly. Around the same time we experienced the Seddon Earthquakes and as the train system stopped, those in Wellington had to find alternative transport home.
The difficulties of reaching the Kapiti Coast in the event of an earthquake prompted the Kapiti Lions in association with Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (WREMO) to create the ‘Long Walk Home’ event designed to give commuters a chance to experience the reality of walking from Wellington to Raumati Beach. Along with a friend I decided to sign up for the physical challenge and get a sense of just how far it was to walk.
After a safety briefing and a few words of encouragement from Wellington’s Mayor the walk started at 8.30am from outside Wellington station. It was a sunny but breezy day and the first stage of the walk took us through Thorndon where it was relatively quiet and flat. The first challenge of the day was tackling Ngauranga Gorge which wasn’t as tough as I had feared but wasn’t the most pleasant with traffic thundering past constantly.
After the gorge we walked through Johnsonville where there were lots of volunteers to ensure that we crossed roads safely. We then walked to Takapu Road, down through Tawa and joined the railway path to Porirua. After Porirua station we got a little excited as we could almost see the finish at Ngatitoa Domain yet we were routed off to the right to follow the path to Papakowhai before crossing the state highway at Paremata. We were welcomed at the Domain with lots of smiling faces and a sausage sizzle which tasted mighty fine. We had completed day one – all 27km of it in just over 5 hours so we were pretty happy.
Read more about Zoe's journey here: DAY TWO The Long Walk Home
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