Hi my name is Michelle, I’m a freelance harpist from Melbourne, Australia. My partner Mickey is a jazz fiddler and singer originally from Sydney.
We are planning to hike the full length of Te Araroa and perform a series of concerts along the way, starting in October this year. Can't wait! :)
I’ve been hiking since I was 23, (now 28) and long distance hiking has become a big passion of mine since I completed the Australia Alps Walking Track in 2017. Although I have never attempted one as long as Te Araroa!
How the idea came about...
I decided about a year ago that I wanted to do an even longer distance hike that the Australian Alps Walking Track (650km). Te Araroa ticked that box (3000km!), it's a quick flight from my home Melbourne and New Zealand is absolutely stunning.
Mickey was keen, but the time away from playing music was a concern. And then it came to us, why not do a musical tour along the way? At first this seemed impossible, but with research and many discussions, we’ve come to realise that we can make this happen.
Music & hiking
Basically, we are going to do a series of concerts throughout New Zealand while we hike Te Araroa, with the idea being to walk to each concert. We’re currently in spread-sheeting heaven, investigating and drawing up a list of venues that are close to the hike. Mickey toured both islands back in 2016 with his band The Squeezebox Trio, so we've already got some great contacts. Through traveling and touring we have both found that the best times are when you tap into community; it’s a much more organic experience, music seems to give people license to open up and welcome a cultural exchange.
The other aspect of the hike is to raise awareness for Osteoporosis – which I was diagnosed with when I was 24. This has had a huge impact on my life and a contributing factor to getting me into hiking. I hope to inform people that you can get this disease at a young age, and raise awareness that being active can really help to improve/prevent it.
The first hurdle is that our instruments are too heavy to carry – harp, 20kg in its flight case and violin, 3kg in hard case (I know I know, everyone told me to play a smaller instrument!). The plan is to ask people to transport our instruments from gig to gig, ideally without us.
We’re hoping to tap into a few networks including the Trail Angels and Folk Clubs of New Zealand to help us. We think this'll be a challenging part of the project, but are optimistic that we can make it happen.
Do you think you can help out? If you're interested in being involved, whether that be driving our instruments somewhere, holding a concert or a place to stay, please contact us!