The first steps of the new Wairarapa Walking Festival start in Carterton

Discussion at the Carterton District Council Walking and Cycling Advisory Group has inspired a Wairarapa Walking Festival. Our district has excellent rural and urban walks. People loved walking during lockdown, and we want to encourage more people to walk more often.

The benefits of a walking festival are numerous: local people getting out for healthy exercise and meeting each other; learning more about Wairarapa’s Māori and European heritage; discovering new and interesting places; and appreciating our natural world.

In 2021, we’ve chosen March 26, 27 and 28. A variety of free walks are planned, including an Urban Art Walk, a Buggy Walk, a Big Dog Walk on private land and a Riverbed Walk. We are also working on a nature walk in the Fensham Reserve, a walk to highlight local Māori history, a Built Heritage walk and an Introduction to Tramping in the Tararua Forest Park.

After a modest start with our pilot weekend in 2021, there could be significant economic opportunities with domestic tourism. An excellent example is the eighteen-day Waiheke Walking Festival which attracts many visitors. The wider Wairarapa area has even more great walking possibilities and we will explore these in 2022.

Living Streets Aotearoa is supporting the inaugural Walking Festival with a modest grant and we will be looking for further sponsorship and promotion. Suggestions for walks and offers to help are welcome. The final timetable will appear in the February Crier.

Contact celia.wade-brown@outlook.com with queries or suggestions.