Amongst Dave Panckhurst’s many qualities, he was visionary. What he envisioned, what he dreamt of, was sometimes ahead of his time.

A couple of months ago Dave shared a dream with me. Now to dream alone is just to dream. To share a dream becomes a reality. Around 2005 Dave put a proposal to people at DOC and other appropriate organizations about the creation of New Zealand’s tenth Great Walk. Great Walks are the Department of Conservation’s premier walks. There are presently nine such walks, only three of which are found on the North Island. You’ve all heard of and perhaps walked some of New Zealand’s other great walks—the Milford Track, the Routeburn, the Heaphy Track etc. We have nothing like that in the Far North.

Dave’s idea was to create such a walk between Spirit’s Bay and Te Paki Stream or station. The tracks are largely in place but the necessary huts are not. Dave, ever the pragmatist, made practical do-able suggests for the placement of two huts. He measured distances appropriate to three days of walking and plotted it all on a map. It would be called Spirit Walk and would be different from any of New Zealand’s other famous walks, featuring stunning beaches and headlands, mangroves and dunes. It would be culturally significant. It would draw more visitors to the north. It would help to put our little part of the world on the map. The idea was turned down but since Dave made his proposal DOC has been steadily upgrading trails and facilities by the Cape and even added a campground where Dave suggested a hut could be.

When Dave shared this idea with me, he made it clear he’d done his best and it hadn’t happened. He was disappointed.  Now will you join with me in envisioning New Zealand’s tenth great walk? Let’s dream together and see this become a reality. Billions get spent on roads. Surely a few hundred thousand dollars can be made available for such a worthy, far-reaching idea. Let’s help make Dave’s vision a reality.

Spirits Bay (Piwhane Bay)



Cape Maria van DiemenTe Paki Stream and sand dunes



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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See


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