Would you walk the length of the North Island for your favourite organisation?

Theo Geerling is doing just that. Theo volunteers for Palmerston North’s Food Rescue/Free Store, Just Zilch, as a driver and on the shop floor. He recently decided to walk the northern leg of the Te Araroa trail (south-bound) to fundraise for Just Zilch. We were lucky to catch up with Theo as he passed through his home town on the trail.

Theo used to be a dairy farmer. ‘I was a workaholic with no time for community. Now that I’m not farming any more, I wanted to give back to the community. I hate waste in any form. At home, I’m always finding ways to reuse resources…so Just Zilch is a good fit for me…stopping food going to waste…’. Theo also volunteers for Outdoor Training NZ, who offer bushcraft training and a service where they shadow people’s tramps to ensure safety.

‘Just Zilch enhances people’s lives’ said Theo. ‘I like that there is no need to prove need. We see some people in dire need. People aren’t judged here. We offer dignity.’

Theo started his walk on 12 October. He found he was walking it much faster than the guide suggested. One day he walked 57kms. ‘But I’m averaging 42 kms a day. So basically a marathon every day.’ He has been sleeping in huts and occasionally on the side of the road in a tent that only weighs 760 grams. ‘I’ve actually just ordered one which is 200 grams lighter’.

When asked what the best things about the trail are, Theo said ‘I’ve loved the freedom. Seeing parts of New Zealand most people would never see. The birds… the kereru and kaka on the trail.’

Theo is hoping to raise $5,000 for Just Zilch with the walk. ‘If I hit my $5,000 goal, I will walk the South Island leg to raise even more money’ he grinned.

Just Zilch is a great place to volunteer if you want to work alongside a diverse group of people, Theo said. ‘We’re a big family. Come and volunteer with us if you are passionate about helping people in need, and want to see food waste prevented through food rescue.’

You can support Theo’s fundraising campaign here.