Colin Hallet, 90, has scaled the 3.9km track to the summit of Te Aroha mountain, along with his great-great-grandchildren Seth, Caleb and Nathan Gilliver.
Looking over the endless hills and canvas-like fields across the Waikato, 90-year-old veteran Colin Hallet is on cloud nine.
A decade prior, Hallet, an adrenaline junkie at heart, told himself he wanted to trek the 3.9km distance up to the summit of Te Aroha maunga which guards over the Te Aroha township.
Earlier this month, he did just that.
“When I got to 80, I used to say: ‘My dream is when I get to 90 years old, to get to the top of Mt Te Aroha,” Hallet said.
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“I told the family that I was going to do this, and they said: ‘You’re not going to the top on your own at 90, we’ll come with you.’”
Hallet has lived in Te Aroha for the past 54 years, and all his life he has been captivated by the outdoors.
His father used to take him out hiking as a young boy and since then he has been an avid tramper, scout master and also worked for search and rescue for 45 years.
At 16 he joined the navy and served in the Korean War during the early 1950s.
It was during this time he met his wife, and after his 10 years of service, they married and eventually settled in Te Aroha.
“Our family were outdoor-mad people,” Hallet said. “My father was a mad pig hunter, he used to take me tramping when I was just 11 or 12 years old.”
On a warm, overcast morning during the Easter long weekend, Hallet and his family embarked on the journey up the mountain.
But it was no easy feat to reach the summit, he said, and there were plenty of breaks along the way, so he could catch his breath.
At 952 metres high, Mt Ruapehu, Ngāuruhoe and Taranaki can be seen from the top of Te Aroha mountain on a clear day.
“I’ve walked up there about 20 times over the last 20 odd years,” Hallet said.
“My son, my daughter, granddaughter and my three great-great-grandchildren came with me, and we all tramped to the top of the mountain.
“When we got to the top, the view was magnificent. I wasn’t the last one there either!”
This was very likely Hallet’s last journey up the mountain as he was getting to the point where casual hikes were better.
But if there was anyone older like him – or even younger – who had their sights on achieving something, he said they just needed to put their mind to it and believe in themselves.
“I’m still going tramping every fortnight,” Hallet said.
“Have a go – you’re more capable of doing something that you think you are.”