The increased number of Te Araroa Trail thru-hikers has boosted local economy in trailside communities.
According to Te Araroa Trust chair David McGregor, the 550 walkers over the past year contributed an estimated $5 million to the economy. Walkers spend an average of $7000 to $10,000 on food and accommodation during their five- to seven-month journeys, money which is funnelled into local cafes, restaurants, dairies and campsites.
“The trail is giving businesses along its route a nice little leg up, and the number of walkers is just going to keep on growing,” said McGregor.
Some business owners are finding unexpected fame as a result: one dairy owner in Northland serves a bacon and egg burger that’s verging on legendary, according to the TA Trust. Mangamuka Dairy owner Eliza Chapman-Kete says it’s had a huge impact on the dairy, as many hikers mentioned her hospitality on their travel blogs.
Another area that’s had a boost in business is Colac Bay Tavern and Campground near Riverton. Owner Warren Bevin told the trust that he estimates about 90 per cent of people who walk the full length of the trail visited the campground. Business is so good, he’s decided to upgrade the campground and add new cabins.
Kiwis who live along the trail are taking note; several homestays have popped up in trailside towns, and ‘trail angels’ are on the rise. One such trail angel is the Pepper family who live near Taumarunui; their ‘TA rest stop’ had over 200 visitors last season.
“It’s great to see country people looking after the walkers,” McGregor said.