Breaks in trail threaten NZ rep­u­ta­tion

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DRE CHUMKO

WALK­ERS and land-own­ers along our fastest-grow­ing in­ter­na­tional tourist at­trac­tion, the 3000km Te Araroa Trail, fear New Zealand is jeop­ar­dis­ing its rep­u­ta­tion by re­ly­ing on lo­cals’ good­will to keep it run­ning.

Jack and Jayne Broome of Reo­tahi Bay have taken in a hand­ful of Te Araroa tram­pers over the past few years – just some of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple walk and run parts of the trail ev­ery year. And this sum­mer, the num­ber walk­ing the full length will top 1000 for the first time.

The Broomes also help those whowant to get across the Whangarei Har­bour to Mars­den point, over a few kilome­tres wide stretch of sea. There’s no ferry and tram­pers have to rely on the good­will of lo­cal boat­ies.

Claire Prosser, a Brit cur­rently walk­ing the trail with her part­ner sim­ply ‘‘met aman named Pete’’, paid him $10 each for her and her part­ner’s pas­sage, and mar­velled at the ad hoc na­ture of much of the Te Araroa Trail. ‘‘It does seem amaz­ing that such a huge tourist at­trac­tion is es­sen­tially run on a shoe­string and good will,’’ she says.

Prosser noted other ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the trail, in­clud­ing the oc­ca­sional closed sec­tion of track across farm­land or through for­est. Some of these had signs of­fer­ing an ex­pla­na­tion – a rahui to stop the spread of Kauri dieback, for in­stance, but other signs were noth­ing more than the words ‘‘track closed’’ scrawled on paper.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers vice pres­i­dent An­drew Hog­gard says farm­ers may be fed up with tourists leav­ing gates open, or leav­ing toi­let paper in pad­docks.

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