Less than three months after being seriously injured in a hit and run, Red Farrant is ready to complete his mission to walk the length of the country.
In April, the Oamaru man was 200km into his charity walk from Bluff to Kaitaia, when he was hit walking along State Highway 1 near Mosgiel.
His hip was “smashed to pieces” and he spent nine days in Dunedin Hospital, before recovering at home in Oamaru.
On Wednesday, the 71-year-old picked up almost where he left off, from Dunedin; but this time he was avoiding highways as much as possible.
“Better to get there late and alive, than early and dead.”
Mr Farrant planned to wear scarves, gloves, a big woolly jacket and thick socks, and was making sure he had beds pre-arranged ahead of time.
“I’ve got friends and relatives to stay with in most major towns, and small towns. So there’ll be lots of pit-stops where I’ll get a free bed and breakfast.”
Inspiration for the idea came from several people, including Dame Whina Cooper, who, at 80, led a hikoi (protest march) from Te Hapua to Wellington in 1975; and English war veteran Sir Tom Moore, who raised more than $63 million for the NHS last year by walking 100 laps of his garden before he turned 100.
But Mr Farrant described himself as “walking in the shadow of AH Reed”.
Sir Alfred Hamish Reed was a New Zealand author and publisher, who walked from North Cape to Bluff in 1960 at the age of 85, and then wrote about it in a book.
Mr Farrant had the book at home, and said he related to a lot of it.
“The generosity and the spirit of people, just kept him walking. What he received, that’s what I received from Invercargill to Dunedin.”
The food Mr Farrant had packed was slightly more elaborate than Sir Alfred’s 1960 rations.
“He used to have porridge every morning and he had oatmeal cookies in his bag.
“Well it’s 2021 now, the new food is fresh bread, margarine, hazelnut spread, prawn crackers and two big bags of our local product, Rainbow jellybeans . . . that’s the new-age highway food. AH would probably be disgusted.”
Mr Farrant had seen his orthopaedic surgeon last month and been given the all-clear for his trek, although he would walk with a crutch.
He was told by the surgeon he had never seen such a major operation heal so quickly and knit together so well.
“He showed me the x-ray. Good God, my bones were smashed to bits,” Mr Farrant said.
“There’s a plate with screws, there’s wires, there’s carbon rods, and there’s pins all through the whole lot. It’s an engineering masterpiece.”
Mr Farrant was warned there would be pain for a long time, and he was still on a moderate amount of morphine, though he was wary of becoming dependant.
“If the pain does come in, it’s brutal. It’s like somebody attacking your leg with a blunt chainsaw.”
He thought it would take him between 13 and 17 weeks to get to Kaitaia, and then he would rest up with his brother in Auckland, before flying home to finish his own book, which he had written 60 pages of already, recounting tales about the “interesting characters and awesome conversations”.
He would have a year off before his next adventure, travelling to the United States to walk around the perimeter.
Mr Farrant was looking forward to getting back on the road again, and was raising money for 13 different charities as he went.