New Zealand Walks: Ninth year for Walk­worth Walks

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

Business is boom­ing for cafés, dairies, camp­sites and other en­ter­prises along the length of New Zealand’s na­tional Te Araroa Trail. More than 550 peo­ple have com­pleted the 3,000km trail over the past year, stop­ping to re-sup­ply in ur­ban cen­tres and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties as they walk from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Te Araroa Trust chair David McGre­gor said the record num­ber of walk­ers had con­trib­uted an es­ti­mated more than $5 mil­lion to the econ­omy, with walk­ers re­port­ing an av­er­age spend of between $7,000 and $10,000 through­out their four to five month jour­ney.

The tens of thou­sands of other peo­ple walk­ing in­di­vid­ual sec­tions of the trail on shorter trips were also pro­vid­ing a boost for busi­nesses in many small towns through their pur­chases of cof­fees, ice creams and other “vi­tal sup­plies” be­fore or af­ter their walks, he said.

“Te Araroa walk­ers are of­ten spend­ing money in places main­stream eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives don’t touch. The trail is giv­ing busi­nesses along its route a nice lit­tle leg up, and the num­ber of walk­ers is just go­ing to keep on grow­ing.”

Among the many busi­nesses ben­e­fit­ting are Main St Lodge, in Kaitaia, and the Manga­muka Dairy, in the town­ship of Manga­muka on the eastern bound­ary of North­land’s Raetea For­est.

Main St Lodge man­ager Suzie Clark said the num­ber of Te Araroa walk­ers stay­ing overnight at her premises had more than dou­bled in the past two years and she was now see­ing walk­ers com­ing through in win­ter, as well as sum­mer.

“In the time I’ve been here it’s just ex­ploded. Many of them start their jour­ney at Main St Lodge be­fore walk­ing to Cape Reinga and then back through Kaitaia, stay­ing here again be­fore they con­tinue south.”

The Manga­muka Dairy is one of the few places trail walk­ers can re-sup­ply as they pass through Raetea and Omahuta Forests. The store’s ba­con and egg burg­ers have be­come leg­endary among walk­ers, with many of them men­tion­ing the burg­ers and owner Eliza Chap­man-Kete’s hos­pi­tal­ity on their travel blogs.

“The im­pact on the dairy is huge,” Ms Chap­man-Kete said. “It’s been quite hard case. One year all the walk­ers wanted bat­tered mussels be­cause word of mouth had spread. Th­ese days most of them buy ba­con and egg burg­ers, chips and a cof­fee.”

Fur­ther south, near Wellington, Paekakariki’s Perch­ing Par­rot restau­rant is re­port­ing a sim­i­lar boom. Co-owner Ni­cole Duke said the num­ber of peo­ple through the restau­rant’s doors was up by about a third on some days fol­low­ing the open­ing of the Paekakariki Es­carp­ment Track sec­tion of Te Araroa last year.

More than 60,000 lo­cals and visi­tors have walked the es­carp­ment track in its open­ing year, with many mak­ing a trip into Paekakariki, at the start of the track, to buy re­fresh­ments.

South Is­land busi­nesses are see­ing the ben­e­fits too. The ma­jor­ity of Te Araroa walk­ers go from north to south, set­ting off from Cape Reinga in Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber so they reach the South Is­land dur­ing the drier, warmer months.

War­ren Bevin, who pur­chased the Co­lac Bay Tav­ern and Camp­ground near River­ton a few months af­ter Te Araroa of­fi­cially opened in 2011, said around 90 per cent of the peo­ple who walk the full length of the trail vis­ited his business.

“Through­out the sea­son we see a big im­pact. Busi­nesses in River­ton are do­ing well and it’s given me con­fi­dence to add new cab­ins and up­grade the camp­ground.”

A num­ber of home­s­tays had been es­tab­lished around River­ton as a re­sult of the trail and some South­land farm­ers had con­verted their wool­sheds into ac­com­mo­da­tion for walk­ers, he said. “It’s great to see coun­try peo­ple look­ing af­ter the walk­ers.” Mr McGre­gor said man­ag­ing the trail for the ben­e­fit of New Zealan­ders and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties was a pri­or­ity for Te Araroa Trust, which man­ages the trail.

Over the com­ing year, the Trust would fo­cus on en­sur­ing the long term sus­tain­abil­ity of the trail and em­bed­ding the trail ex­pe­ri­ence into the hearts and minds of New Zealan­ders, he said.

Walk­ers along­side Travers River on the Nel­son/ Marl­bor­ough leg of Te Araroa. Photo by Ben Cur­ran.

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