Te Araroa thru-hikers are being urged to take The Trail Pledge this season.
Developed by the Te Araroa Trust, the pledge asks trampers to respect the environment, Māori culture, private property and other users of the outdoors while walking the 3000km trail.
Te Araroa Trust chief executive Mark Weatherall said the majority of walkers are well-behaved but a few require a reminder to be respectful and look after the environment.
“The worst-case scenario is if some of the behaviour continues – mainly on private land – it does put into question the use of that land,” he said.
The one-page pledge draws on behavioural messages from the Tiaki Promise, Leave No Trace values and Outdoor Access Codes – amongst others – and will be emailed to every walker who registers for the trail.
It will also be promoted on social media and posters will be put up at hut and other accommodation providers.
Weatherall hopes the pledge will give walkers more confidence to call out those who aren’t displaying appropriate behaviour.
“We’re not equipped as other departments are to fine people, so like all those that use the outdoors, it’s about self-policing, and calling people out,” he said.
Weatherall said managing such an extensive route is “a constant battle”, but it is improving every year.
“I’d like to think overall it is better, but it’s not moving forward as quickly as I would like it to – it’s a case of two steps forward and one back,” he said.
The pledge has the backing of DOC, New Zealand Walking Access Commission and Mountain Safety Council.