Mickael GOMES 03 Tararua Range
Photo by Mickael Gomes

Te Araroa turns ten

New Zealand’s walk of a lifetime turns 10 this week. And for its birthday it wants to lead more people into the wild.

Since COVID-19, the number of New Zealanders walking the trail has increased significantly. Thousands of international tourists are no longer taking months to walk the length of the 3000km Cape Reinga to Bluff trail. But tens of thousands of New Zealanders are taking a few hours, a day or a week to walk a local segment of the trail instead.

The Walking Access Commission’s chief executive Ric Cullinane says Te Araroa has grown into a NZ icon. Ten years’ old and Te Araroa is one of the world’s mostly highly regarded long walks.

"We want all New Zealanders to be able to walk the trail - not in one go, but over their lifetime, in segments. Starting as children we can explore the corners of our country, taking our time while walking to meet each, other, to learn our history and ecology and to marvel at our special places."

Te Araroa contributes to local communities along the trail, to our connection to the environment, to economic development and particularly to our mental and physical health. These benefits come directly from walking in nature, making connections with nature and with each other.

As it enters its second decade Te Araroa wants to be a safer, more fun trail for New Zealanders.

"Currently about 15 percent of Te Araroa involves walking on the road", says Cullinane. "We’re working with councils, mana whenua, private landowners and local communities to move more of the trail off road and into nature."

Two great examples of this are the newly opened Invercargill to Bluff pathway and the Mercer to Hampton Downs trail upgrade.

"We also want to spend Te Araroa’s teenage years improving the maintenance and facilities along the trail, so walkers have a better experience," says Cullinane.