PRESS RELEASE: Te Araroa – The Long Pathway
Taumarunui will continue to benefit from New Zealanders and international visitors walking the 3,000km Te Araroa trail following agreement of a revised route that takes in Pureora Forest’s Timber Trail, scenic King Country backroads, and Taumarunui’s main street.
The revised 137km route was signposted this month and takes walkers from Mount Pureora in Pureora Forest Park to Owhango at the north-western end of the 42 Traverse. It takes in the quiet and scenic Ongarue Back Road and Hikumutu Road, rather than sending walkers along the road edge of State Highway 4, as was previously the case.
Te Araroa Trust chair David McGregor said the change was an improvement to the trail, which stretches 3,000km from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff at the foot of the South Island.
“We’re thrilled that the new route provides a safer and more scenic experience for walkers. There was a time when we thought moving the trail off State Highway 4 would require us to bypass Taumarunui, which would have forced walkers to carry significantly more supplies with them between Te Kuiti and National Park Village.”
Mr McGregor said the Trust had worked closely with the Department of Conservation, Ruapehu District Council and Ongarue landholder Cliff Tombleson to reach agreement on the new route.
“Mr Tombleson deserves particular recognition for his generosity in allowing a campsite to be established on his property at the southern end of the Timber Trail. Without the campsite the new route may not have proceeded.”
Ruapehu District Council Economic Development Manager Warren Furner said Te Araroa was an asset for the district and the decision to ensure the new route continued to pass through Taumarunui would benefit both outdoors people and local businesses.
“The prominence of Te Araroa walkers in recent years has been easily noticeable by the local community. They provide a sense of adventure and a significant economic boost.”
Among the businesses benefitting from Te Araroa trail are the local supermarket and holiday park.
Taumarunui New World owner Jeremy Lamb said the number of trail walkers passing through his store had increased over the past few years.
“We see about 10,500 people a week through our store in winter and that rises to around 11,500 a week in summer as a result of Te Araroa walkers, cyclists and other tourists. It’s good for the business and good for the town.”
Taumarunui Holiday Park owner Phil Draper agreed the trail was a boon for local businesses. More than 400 Te Araroa walkers had stayed at his holiday park over the past year, stopping to refresh and recover before heading back into the forest.
“Most of them stop for two days because they have just done five or six days in the bush. They are all interested in hearing about Taumarunui and they all have a story to tell,” he said.
Over the past year, a record 550 people have walked the full length of Te Araroa, and tens of thousands more have walked individual sections. Those walking the full length of the trail are estimated to have contributed more than $5 million to the New Zealand economy in the past 12 months, with walkers reporting an average spend of between $7,000 and $10,000 throughout their four to five month journey.