Sustainability will be a key focus of the journey, and hours of research have gone into reducing O’Connor’s environmental impact. “I don’t think I could have done it any other way,” he says.“I would feel too guilty going on an epic journey like this, knowing I was leaving a bigger impact behind me. I want to leave the environment in better shape than I find it, and I can do that by picking up trash along the way, and not leaving any.” To minimise waste, O’Connor is avoiding plastic packaging in favour of recyclable jars, silicone ziplock bags, paper and honey wraps. He plans to eat home-dehydrated snacks and meals, and buy fresh produce along the way. “Your daily choices have an impact on the wilderness environment that you don’t see,” he says. “If you grab a Snickers bar, you’ll have instant gratification, but you’re left with a single use wrapper, which could end up in the ocean. “If you eat an apple instead, you’ll be better for it – you’ll have more energy for a longer period, and you’re not going to leave a trace.” O’Connor has spent the last four years guiding seasonally in Auckland and Norway. His favourite spot is Great Barrier Island – “a sea kayaker’s dream” – but also rates Waiheke and Motutapu highly. Once the Inside Passage is complete, O’Connor is considering circumnavigating Ireland or the North or South Island.
A Snickers bar, gives instant gratification, but you’re left with a single use wrapper which could end up in the ocean