I have run from Cape Reinga to Paihia over the last six days and I’m finally enjoying my first rest day. Week one is down, but there are still nine weeks to go.
This mission is giving me the opportunity to explore my own country. I’m running on road, rock and sand all the way down and even swimming the harbours, averaging 40km a day, six days a week for two-and-a-half months.
We live in such a beautiful country and the best way to see it is on your own feet. I’ve spent the last year overseas traveling through countries as diverse as India, Germany and Mexico. It made me think about New Zealand – how lucky we are to live in such a natural paradise, but also how vulnerable we are if we slip into indifference.
I’m hoping to raise awareness across New Zealand and inspire others to share the same passion I have for our coastlines and oceans. We need to be proactive to protect it from poor fishing practices, pollution and plastic. This is why I’m supporting two fantastic homegrown charities that are already doing a lot of work in this area: Sustainable Coastlines and Forest & Bird.
Forest & Bird, while advocating better practices for our fisheries, is also empowering consumers to make better seafood choices by publishing the Best Fish Guide. Even though there’s still a lack of transparency when it comes to knowing where and how fish are caught, it does give New Zealanders an idea of which fish or fishing practices to support and which to challenge.
Spending time in Mexico inspired me to support Sustainable Coastlines. Mexico is blessed with beautiful, deserted white-sand beaches along its Pacific coast – but they’re covered with the rubbish brought in with the ocean tide. I realised how fragile our coastlines and oceans are, and how vulnerable to the plastic and waste we produce.
But what we see on the beaches is only part of the problem. Plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over a long period of time, photo-degrading rather than bio-degrading. This is a significant threat, because it’s harder to clean up and spreads through sand, fish and sea. I’ve already observed this process along my journey – just feel how brittle the plastic gets after years of being pounded by sun and surf.
However, we can be thankful for what we still have in New Zealand. I’ve been blown away by the scenery I’ve passed so far. I’ve seen endless white silica sands, harbours full of life and met a lot of good, honest people along the way. Our country is amazing, but it’s up to all of us to keep it that way.
For more information about Alex Asher, or to support his mission, visit www.capetostrait.org.nz