My story

Definitions: “Tramping” in Australasia means going on a long walk; aka hiking or trekking. A “tramp” is a long walk, not a homeless person or a woman of loose morals.

I’m a 40-something Kiwi woman living in Wellington who loves tramping in the New Zealand outdoors. I also suffer from migraine – what is known as episodic migraine, which just means I (mostly) get migraines for 14 days or less a month (unlike the poor chronic migraine sufferers, with 15 days or more). I average around 10-12.

You’d think tramping and migraine would be mutually exclusive – or at least uncomfortable companions. This is true – I spent years doing very little tramping because the migraines were so debilitating. But I was slowly drawn back to the wilderness. I did longer and harder trips, with the help of my loyal partner Tony (who also acts as support crew and tent carrier). And now we are undertaking the ultimate test of whether prolonged outdoor therapy (walking Te Araroa) can conquer neurological disorder.

Other things that may help or hinder this quest – I’m a vegetarian with a cheese addiction (so can’t be vegan; but also will have to skip the meat-pie-from-the-dairy diet of some TA walkers), a volunteer trapper (and I’ll miss clearing out the corrupted corpses of kiwi-killing pests from DOC-200 traps), an epidemiologist (i.e. a nerd with an excess of university degrees and no practical skills) and a nature lover. I do yoga and indoor rock-climbing, both badly, but am hoping these will help my middle-aging body clamber and shimmy through the more challenging twists of the TA. Time will tell…

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