In not surprising news, the season for walking Te Araroa Trail has kicked off and for the first time, Kiwis outnumber international walkers as they set off from Cape Reinga to Bluff.
Te Araroa executive director Mark Weatherall said it’s an exciting time for the trail.
“We’ve obviously lost almost all our international guests to COVID-19 and the closed borders,” he said. “But we also have a bunch of Kiwis who have decided to walk the length of their country for the first time.”
Weatherall said while tens of thousands of New Zealanders walk segments of the trail each year, when it comes to thru-walkers – those who walk the entire trail in one go – internationals have always outnumbered Kiwis.
“For most Kiwis, Te Araroa is something they can walk over their lifetime rather than over a single summer,” said Weatherall.
“But this summer is different. Intrepid Kiwis are exploring their country in a new way. And, in doing so they are helping keep alive the many tiny businesses along the trail that rely on tourists.
“Many Kiwis learned from COVID-19 that they want to see more of NZ. Domestic tourism numbers are up. They are spending more time in our amazing outdoors. And they are supporting our regions by stepping into the shoes of missing international tourists.”