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December 2021 Issue
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I’m fitter and faster already

One of the biggest pleasures of my time working for Wilderness has been starting the Walk1200km challenge and hearing how it is changing the lives of participants for the better. 

I was into the fifth week of my challenge (note, you can start whenever you like, so my fifth week was some people’s first and other’s sixth; more people are signing up every day) when I realised how walking every day was affecting me. I was on a walk I had first done 35 days previously. Where I had originally huffed and puffed over the steep bits, I could now easily hold a conversation without sounding the least bit out of breath. 

I started the challenge about six weeks into the Auckland lockdown and found I was less fit than I have been in, well, since I can remember.

But regaining the habit of walking every day – for that’s how I have chosen to do the challenge – has quickly got me back into great shape. After sharing my own story with fellow participants, dozens emailed to tell me how they too had noticed similar improvements in their health. So I hope you read some of the stories on page 14 about those who have joined me in the challenge and decide now is a good time for you to also sign up; the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll notice the health and well being benefits.

Vaccine mandates are making the news, mostly for negative reasons around teachers and health workers choosing to call it quits rather than be vaccinated. The Department of Conservation has announced all hut wardens and campground staff will need to be vaccinated to remain in their current roles (see story page 10). The mandate affects around 50 staff and DOC says it expects all to willingly comply. 

I think DOC should be congratulated for this stance; keeping its staff and the visitors they interact with safe is essential. The next question is whether visitors to huts and campgrounds will need to be vaccinated. It seems not enforcing proof of vaccination for visitors would be out of step with the requirements businesses are facing under the new ‘traffic light’ system. Personally, I’d prefer to stay in a hut knowing others there had done all they could to prevent contracting and spreading Covid-19, but extending a vaccine mandate to hut visitors could prove difficult to enforce.