Tramper on the Southern Crossing over the Tararuas. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Work has started on what could become one of the region’s signature summer events.

A planning and brainstorming meeting for the first-ever Wairarapa Walking Festival took place last week.

Attended by event organiser Celia Wade-Brown and others at the Carterton Events Centre, the wide-ranging discussion looked at options for short urban and culturally focused walks and longer overnight tramps in the Tararuas and along the coast.

Building on the success of the Carterton-based walking festival in March this year, the group discussed how to expand the concept to include options from right across the region.

The festival is scheduled for November 2022. It would include longer tramps in and around the Tararuas and other places and shorter ones focused on towns, culture and history.

The most popular walks in the March festival were those focused on Maori culture and urban heritage.

Wade-Brown said walking was one of the most fundamental ways of getting around, and the festival would be a way to promote walking as an activity and the region as a destination.

“I want to encourage people to walk because it’s fun, not because they must,” she said.

“I have also done a lot of walking around the region and wanted to share that. Many towns in Wairarapa are very walkable.”

If people showed they wanted to walk, it was possible councils and Waka Kotahi would invest in the future in making it easier to get around.

“Where I live, we back on to Tararua Forest Park. It’s a magnificent place to walk.”

She has walked many of the major tracks in the Tararuas and is familiar with some of the coastal routes, including Ocean Beach and Lake Ferry.

“The walk around Castlepoint is spectacular.”

The festival would also be an opportunity to use group-based transport where appropriate.

“We are looking forward to getting people to places without having to use their car all the time. I think it’s going to be a very effective and popular festival,” she said.

The organising group was also considering approaching private landowners and farmers to explore walking opportunities across their property.

Many privately run options exist, including Tora on the south coast and the Patuna Chasm on Ruakokoputuna Rd near Martinborough.

The initial planning group discussed similar initiatives offshore, in Slovenia, the US, Canada and Australia. There were more than 150 walking festivals in Britain alone.

The group is working with all three district councils and others, including Volunteering Wairarapa and Living Streets Aotearoa.

There are opportunities for people to help with additional ideas and to become walk leaders.

  • More information, including how to get in touch, is at https://www.facebook.com/wairarapawalkingfestival/ or info@wairarapawalkingfestival.com


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