'Amazing' feedback from walk

Participants in the ``Darkness Into Light'' walk arrive back at the Lake Hayes Pavilion near...
Participants in the ``Darkness Into Light'' walk arrive back at the Lake Hayes Pavilion near Queenstown on Saturday. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
More than 150 people in Queenstown have joined forces to show their support for those with mental health problems.

The Lake Hayes Pavilion was lit up with more than 400 candles for the "Darkness Into Light" walk on Saturday.

Starting at 6.30am, they braved darkness and cool temperatures to walk 5km from the pavilion on a there-and-back course along the lakeside track.

Organised by Queenstown residents Anne Marie Campbell and Daniel Sweeney, the event aimed to raise awareness of and fight-back against suicide and self-harm.

Ms Campbell said because it was a new event for the Wakatipu, people had taken part without knowing exactly what to expect.

It had been encouraging to get "amazing" feedback.

The issues of mental health and suicide were "close to the hearts" of many who walked.

"It was a brilliant turnout. We were really impressed with how many people turned out early on a Saturday morning."

The global "Darkness Into Light" initiative started in Dublin in 2009, with 400 people taking part. This year nearly 200,000 people in 16 countries participated.

In New Zealand, Queenstown was one of five centres to hold the event, up from two last year, Ms Campbell said.

"That's a sign of how important and topical mental health awareness has become."

Among the walkers was Wanaka resident Barry Grehan, who took part in the original event in Dublin a decade ago, she said.

"He really wanted to be part of Queenstown's first event, and gave us an amazing talk about his experience and his family's experience of mental health and suicide."

She and her fellow organisers would start planning next year's edition in a few months' time.

"We plan to grow it."

The event raised about $8000, which will be split equally between the event's founding charity in Ireland, Pieta House, and the Queenstown Lakes Family Centre.

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