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'Te Araroa trail is a great choice for Kiwis at Alert Level 2'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The vast majority of New Zealand’s national Te Araroa trail is once again walkable as of today, providing a golden opportunity for Kiwis to explore their own country while trails are quieter than normal.

Large sections of the 3,000 km trail have been off limits for the past few weeks due to Government measures aimed at eliminating COVID-19, but most of these have been lifted with the change to Alert Level 2 today.

Te Araroa Chief Executive Mark Weatherall said the change would allow New Zealanders to once again enjoy overnight hiking on many sections of the iconic trail, which runs from Cape Reinga in the Far North to Cape Reinga at the foot of the South Island.

"Walking on sections of Te Araroa is a great choice for Kiwis who have been itching to get out of their own backyards and into New Zealand’s outdoors. It’s also an ideal way to support the many businesses and communities the trail touches - many of them will have been doing it tough over the past few weeks."

Day walks, short overnight tramps and section hikes on Te Araroa were the safest option at the moment as New Zealand headed into the colder months, and people should always consider their past experience when deciding on the most appropriate track to walk, he said.

"People who walk the full length of New Zealand on the trail typically begin in Spring or Summer, when the weather is warmer and the walking experience is at its safest and most enjoyable." Mr Weatherall said he expected that some thru-walkers who began their walk earlier this year would be eager to continue their hike but it was important they carefully considered the suitability of their gear and experience before making a decision on whether or not to do so.

Anybody walking Te Araroa at Alert Level 2 should take the time register on Te Araroa’s website, www.teararoa.org.nz, to allow for contact tracing and updates if required.

Walkers also needed to consider the restrictions and limitations that are still in place at Alert Level 2, including the Department of Conservation’s occupancy limit of 10 people at all huts it manages on conservation land to allow for physical distancing. With that in mind, it was important for walkers to carry their own cleaning supplies, as well as a tent, in case a hut was at capacity when they arrive.

Many commercial accommodation providers and supporting services would be open again from today, but options may be more limited than usual in some parts of the country so walkers needed to take care to call ahead, Mr Weatherall said. Some individual tracks that make up Te Araroa remain closed at Alert Level 2, so it was also a good idea for walkers to check the Trail Status page on Te Araroa’s website.

"It’s been a challenging time and I know there are many international walkers who will be waiting to hear news of when our borders re-open. While we don’t have any update on that at this point, today’s move to Alert Level 2 is a fantastic step forward."

Advice for walking on Te Araroa at Alert Level 2: Register on Te Araroa’s website - whether doing a day walk or overnight tramp

Do not walk if you are unwell.

Practice physical distancing and wash hands regularly - carry hand sanitiser where possible.

DOC has implemented an occupancy limit of 10 people in its bookable and non-bookable huts. Make sure to carry a tent if doing an overnight walk in case a hut is at capacity when you get there.

Take cleaning supplies with you for any overnight walks to help keep yourself and others healthy.

Some supporting trail services may not yet have re-opened so make sure to call ahead to check.

Consider the weather - take the right gear and don’t push your limits.

Be kind and have fun!

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