‘The Long Way Home’: Podcast takes its listeners on a journey

Spreading your father’s ashes is harder than you think.

Bruce Hopkins wanted to take his dad and brother’s ashes back home to Stewart Island, New Zealand. As if spreading two relative’s ashes wasn’t hard enough, Hopkins decided to take the long way to get there. The long, long way.

The podcast, “The Long Way Home,” transports its listeners into the scene. It’s a very unique experience to listen to the heavy New Zealand accents and hear the rush of waterfalls as Hopkins walks the length of New Zealand.

Son of a crayfisherman, Hopkins turned to the performing arts after training as a teacher in physical education and a brief period as a crayfisherman himself. In peak physical condition, Hopkins decided to become a professional dancer for nine years in Australia and New Zealand. He was a member of several companies including Limbs Dance Co. and Black Grace Dance Co.

Hopkins then spent 12 years as a freelance actor with numerous stage, film and television roles, working with people such as Michael Hurst, Lucy lawless and Kevin Smith.

One of Hopkins’ most famous roles was for his portrayal of Gamling in “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy by Peter Jackson, and for playing the voice of evil alien Choobo on “Power Rangers Ninja Storm.” More recently, Hopkins founded a temp agency that was directed toward actors so that they could work in between their acting jobs.

Hopkins and his larger-than-life personality entered into the field of talk-back radio, and thus, began his love affair with the microphone. Hopkins would go on to spend the next three years as a radio host as half of the comedy duo called “Des & Les” with lifelong friend Alan Reid.

With the passing of his brother and father in the same year, Hopkins saw an opportunity to use all the skills he had aquired over his lifetime and pay it forward as an act of respect for the loved ones he had lost. 

Hopkins decided to make the arduous track across New Zealand. Te Araroa is New Zealand’s long distance tramping route, stretching circa 3,000 kilometers along the length of the country’s two main islands from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

In an interview with “The New Zealand Herald,” Hopkins said he was gracious for being born in New Zealand.

“I wanted to express my gratitude and love of being born in this country by walking this trail,” Hopkins said. “It will connect me fully to my heritage.”