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Te Araroa is open
A 3,000km trail from Cape Reinga to the Bluff was opened at a public event in Wellington on 3 December.
Te Araroa â€“ which means The Long Pathway â€“ links New Zealand's most spiritual, historic and scenic locations, opening up an epic hike through some of the world's most spectacular scenery.
Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive Geoff Chapple said the trail was â€œnot just a physical trail but a trail that tells the history and culture of New Zealand.
â€œYou walk along east and west coasts, across farmland, through forests, over volcanoes, and sidle alongside the Alps. But unlike most of the back-country tracks in New Zealand, Te Araroa also gives you the chance to meet the people â€“ it goes through over 60 towns and six cities."
The New Zealand Walking Access Commission played a part in the creation of Te Araroa by helping the Trust negotiate lasting access in parts of New Zealand. The Commission also provided funding through its Enhanced Access Fund for sections of the trail in Ruapehu District, Canterbury and Marlborough, and the creation of trail maps in a book written by Mr Chapple to coincide with the trail opening: Te Araroa: A Walking Guide To New Zealand's Long Trail.
The creation of The Long Pathway is a story in itself, dating back 17 years to when Chapple formed the Te Araroa Trust.
Backed by hundreds of dedicated volunteers, the Trust pushed the project along, building new stretches of track and gaining the support of 36 local bodies, the Department of Conservation, successive governments, private land owners and eight iwi.
Commission Chief Executive Mark Neeson paid tribute to Mr Chapple's hard work. â€œGeoff worked tirelessly and patiently to do the track work, fundraise and manage the Trust and he deserves wide recognition.â€