Growing up on a one-acre lifestyle block in South Auckland, Katrina Megget didn’t strike her family as being particularly outdoorsy or adventurous. Yet Katrina, 42, has now made a name for herself internationally as an adventure traveller, tramping the entire length of New Zealand, sailing around the UK and scaling a number of volcanoes in a series of ambitious personal quests. Katrina regularly shares her travel experiences in publications like New Zealand’s Wilderness magazine and is a motivational speaker in England. She says going on any kind of big adventure is, in many ways, a “growth process”.
Katrina’s first great adventure was her spontaneous decision to relocate to the UK from Dunedin, 17 years ago. Today, she lives in Kent, where she is a freelance journalist writing mainly on medical science, new drug discoveries and the pharmaceutical industry.
She and her British fiance enjoy a flexible work arrangement that allows them to embrace the outdoors and their love of sailing, as well as the pleasures of a lazy afternoon in an English country pub and the buzz of London’s West End.
In early 2023, Katrina achieved her goal on her third attempt of hiking the length of NZ, southbound along the 3,000km Te Araroa trail. Journeying through the NZ backcountry challenged her to master skills in trip planning, logistics, navigation, bush craft, mountain-climbing and river-crossing and developed her mental strength and resilience. Spending several months exploring the country from Cape Reinga to Bluff at a slow walking pace has been a life-altering experience for Katrina, with many incredible moments, such as navigating the rapids on the Whanganui river journey by canoe as part of the great walk from Taumarunui.
The experience was, however, demanding: often muddy and at other times frightening, exhausting and even boring. “I almost drowned when I was walking in the Richmond Ranges; I slipped on a rock when I was crossing a river, half-dislocated my shoulder and got stuck between two rocks with my head down and in the water. But I found enough energy to push myself to get out because I was worried that my toilet paper was getting wet,” Katrina recalls. Her trip was interrupted twice, with a knee injury forcing her to take a break before the sudden escalation of the pandemic took her and her partner off the trail for five long weeks locked-down in a dreary motel room. The pair had been only seven days out from their finish line, at Bluff. These frustrating delays forced Katrina to cope better with set-backs, and developed her lived understanding that achievements don’t always unfold in a straight line.
While there were many obstacles to completing the journey, Katrina feels the greatest challenge to face is always just getting to the start point “because it's the same fear, I think, whatever the adventure - it's that unknown - oh, what's going to happen? What are people going to think when I say I'm going to move to another country or do this adventure?” To other women facing a challenging decision about the life pathway to follow, she says, “Just go for it. Easy to say, but sometimes you've just got to take the opportunity. And that's where courage comes in. Because courage is taking action in the face of fear. Whether it's coming to the UK, maybe it's changing a job or asking for a promotion - it's all about having that courage to take that jump into the unknown. And that is going to create a whole new world of opportunities”.
Katrina was an early member of the New Zealand Business Women’s Network in the UK, and benefited hugely from personal mentoring by Kiwi life-coach Claire Sewell. Beginning in May, Katrina will lead a six-week group mentoring programme for the Network, “Self-Belief and Finding Your Awesome”. She wants to motivate other Kiwi women to challenge any self-doubt or fear of failure, to give them the confidence and strategies to take the first step on their own journeys. As she writes in her travel blog, “conquering the mental mountain is half the battle to conquering the real, physical one”.