Walk­ing in the forests of South Waikato


South Waikato dis­trict co-or­di­na­tor The ECHO Walk­ing Fes­ti­val is now in its 12th year, the ECHO Walk­ing Fes­ti­val is or­gan­ised by town pro­mot­ers and Sport Waikato Dis­trict Co­or­di­na­tors in the par­tic­i­pat­ing towns and dis­tricts.

This could be your year to ex­plore what the great out­doors in South Waikato has to of­fer, so check out the walks in the South Waikato.

As I reach the crest of the ridge af­ter a slow steady climb through na­tive bush and turn to look out across at the vista of the South Patetere brush land and be­yond, I feel a sense of achieve­ment.

I won­der to my­self why I don’t do this more of­ten, be­cause it is so sat­is­fy­ing. Be­ing in the bush, breath­ing in fresh clean air and learn­ing about the his­tory, the wars and the land lay­out are so re­ward­ing.

It’s sim­ple re­ally, to make a sand­wich, fill a wa­ter bot­tle, pack some essen­tials into a small back­pack, don my tramp­ing shoes, pick up a friend and head out for the day. But I find that each year when the fes­ti­val comes around again, I have not kept my prom­ise to my­self to get out and ex­pe­ri­ence more of our su­perb sur­round­ings.

The fes­ti­val presents an op­por­tu­nity for all to ex­plore new tracks within a group, led by a guide who knows the area and who has a good deal of knowl­edge of it’s his­tory or rel­e­vance.

I al­ways meet in­ter­est­ing new peo­ple on th­ese walks and hear about other ar­eas and walks avail­able, or tips on good boots and gear. Friend­ships are formed and lon­ers of­ten find a walk­ing group to join for regular ex­cur­sions.

What­ever your fit­ness level or your pen­chant, you can find walks in the pro­gramme to suit ev­ery­one. From the grade one easy short walks suit­able for fam­i­lies and the less hardy, to a good hard six-hour tramp up to the top of the Kaimai Ranges to see a mag­nif­i­cent view and wa­ter­fall, ECHO walks have it all.

There are even a few walks of in­ter­est and in­trigue de­signed to ed­u­cate and de­light, such as the Par­adise in Pakaraka (Oko­roire) or ex­pe­ri­ence the Man­garewa Me­an­der ( Sus­pen­sion Bridge). Some of the walks take you into places nor­mally out of bounds to the public, such as the "Ex­plor­ing Kin­leith For­est"

The fes­ti­val be­gan 11 years ago with the in­ten­tion of en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to im­prove their fit­ness, while get­ting the fam­ily in­volved in dis­cov­er­ing new places to visit in this spec­tac­u­lar and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble part of the coun­try.

It is of­ten those who live clos­est that don’t take the time to dis­cover their own backyard, but we are just as keen to show it off to the vis­i­tors.

The ob­jec­tives of the ECHO Walk­ing Fes­ti­val is;

To en­able lo­cal res­i­dents to take part in walks in their lo­cal parks and re­serves.

To high­light the benefits of regular ex­er­cise.

To in­crease aware­ness and use of lo­cal parks and re­serves. To pro­mote lo­cal tourism. Check out your lo­cal walks hap­pen­ing dur­ing the fes­ti­val hap­pen­ing right here in the South Waikato, or if you want to be a bit more ad­ven­tur­ous check out other walks.

For all walks check out echowalk­fest. org. nz/ walks/ and reg­is­ter while you are there.

For more in­for­ma­tion or ques­tions con­tact Lisa at Sport Waikato on 07 886 9002. Brochures on Echo Walk­ing Fes­ti­val are also avail­able in all three I sites sit­u­ated in Ti­rau, Pu­taruru and Toko­roa. Happy walk­ing South Waikato.

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