14 May 2017

CKL environmental engineer Debra Ballard has completed her epic journey - walking the length of the South Island solo from Bluff to Queen Charlotte Sound - to raise money and awareness for Mobility Dogs.

Debra finished the 1300km adventure, which followed the Te Araroa Trail, on February 24 after 54 days of walking around 25km a day. On a few occasions she walked more than 40km in a day. It was a week earlier than she’d expected.

She raised a total of $6,125 for Mobility Dogs through donations to a Givealittle page.

Debra says the toughest part of the trek was the Richmond Ranges, near Nelson, where she had to carry nine days’ worth of food across steep and challenging terrain.

“I also had a lot of wet weather follow me throughout the whole trip. As a result I had wet feet from either from rain, or having to cross rivers or wet ground, for 48 days of the 54 days in total. It was so rare to have dry feet I started counting the days when I did!”

She went through three pairs of shoes over the course of the trip and her feet are still recovering from the blisters that covered her toes. Despite all that she would do it all again in a heartbeat.

“It was amazing. One of the main highlights was the fascinating people I met along the way.”

Debra, who is a Girl Guide Leader and keen tramper, says she was inspired to take on the challenge when she witnessed first-hand how life-changing having a mobility dog could be for person with a physical disability.

“I saw how incredible these dogs are and how they so dramatically enhance the lives of people who need them,” she says.

Further donations can be made through Givealittle: www.givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/debrasadventures.