Walkers spend up on Te Araroa Trail
Thanks to busy bloggers, Mangamuka Dairy owner Eliza Kete’s bacon and egg burgers are legendary among walkers on the Te Araroa Trail and she is grateful for their patronage.
‘‘They call it the sanctuary in the desert and come in for icecreams and drinks.’’
The remote little Northland dairy is just one of many businesses benefiting from their proximity to the 3000km trail stretching the length of the country from Cape Reinga to Bluff
This year up to 450 people are expected to complete the entire journey, which takes five months on average, with another 10,000 tackling one or more sections.
Hostels and camping grounds are benefiting from the trail’s popularity and some, such as the YHA, offer ‘‘carbon discounts’’ to those travelling on foot.
Rebekah Cone of the Lake Tekapo Holiday Park has done the full trail and understands why a night or two in a holiday park goes down so well with hikers.
‘‘When you’re on the trail, life becomes simple – you cherish the small things like the feeling of a soft pillow pressed against your sunburnt skin instead of a sack packed with smelly clothes, a hot shower instead of a quick splash in a cold river, or even a proper oven to cook on instead of a flimsy stove that can barely handle the weight of your mac ‘n’ cheese.’’
Taumarunui Holiday Park owner Phil Draper saw only a handful of walkers when the trail opened in 2011, but welcomed close to180 last season.
Most walkers were overseas visitors, and Kiwis tended to do the trail in stages, taking two weeks off work and picking up where they left off last time.
‘‘Everybody has their own story about why they’re doing it. Some it’s because they’ve had a close bereavement and want to take time out to sort their heads out, some because it’s a challenge.
‘‘Last year we had a lot of young ones in their late teens and early twenties.’’
Trail chief executive Rob Wakelin said businesses in remote areas also acted as supply depots, holding ‘‘bounce boxes’’ sent in advance for walkers to stock up on food or equipment before setting off again.
There is no fee to walk the trail but Wakelin said they were now more up front about seeking donations which had reached about $20,000.
Walkers on the Te Araroa Trail