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Kiwis outnumber tourists on Te Araroa Trail
Te Araroa executive director Mark Weatherall says it's an exciting time for the trail. "We've obviously lost almost all our international guests to COVID-19 and the closed borders," says Weatherall. "But we also have a bunch of Kiwis who have decided to walk the length of their country for the first time."
Weatherall says tens of thousands of New Zealanders walk segments of the trail each year. But when it comes to through-walkers, the people who walk the entire trail in one 4-5 month block, internationals have always outnumbered Kiwis.
"For most Kiwis, Te Araroa is something they can walk over their lifetime rather than over a single summer," says 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.