Our history

The long trail concept in New Zealand has a venerable history.

Te Araroa Trust and its eight regional trusts have achieved what others could not. We have had a hard battle for funds, and to survive. But lately we are flourishing, due to the many volunteers who have kept the dream alive and advancing.

In 1975 the NZ Walkways Commission worked on a scenic trail based on the Pennine Way. But the idea became too difficult to turn into reality.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) put the same goal into its Walkways Policy of 1995. As part of that policy, DOC also proposed giving high priority to countryside tracks traversing private land. DOC did not have the budget, or the support of local councils to achieve either goal.

1975

Government creates the New Zealand Walkways Commission. One of its goals is a New Zealand-long scenic trail.

1983/84

Taranaki local, Rex Hendry, does a wilderness walk that explores a possibility of a length-of-NZ trail.

1987

The New Zealand Walkways Commission merges into the Department of Conservation (DOC) without having achieved a long trail.

1994

Geoff Chapple writes a newspaper article advocating a New Zealand-long trail. After that Te Araroa Trust is formed.

1995

Prime Minister Jim Bolger opens the first trail, Kerikeri to Waitangi.

1997

Te Araroa Trust maps a North Island route. It does this in consultation with the local and regional councils along the way as well as DOC.

1998

Geoff Chapple walks the North Island route to prove its viability. He test land-owners' response, raises funds, and heightens the project’s profile. He writes one of the first weblogs, which becomes popular, and the trail idea begins to take hold.

1999

Te Araroa Trust gets a Millennium grant. It uses this money to hire a construction manager and work teams for its first linking track down the Waikato River.

2002

Te Araroa Trust maps the South Island trail, again with extensive consultation. Geoff Chapple walks the trail, and tests land-owner responses en route.

Te Araroa Trust signs an memorandum of understanding with DOC. DOC agrees to assist the trust with a tramping corridor east of the Southern Alps.

The Mayors Taskforce, led by Christchurch mayor Garry Moore adopts Te Araroa as a “priority project.” More than 20 councils support the project.

2003

Te Araroa - The New Zealand Trail a book published on the trail, wins the environment category Montana Book Award.

Eight regional Te Araroa Trusts launch to co-ordinate the trail's volunteers.

Even though Te Araroa is not open yet walkers begin to do it anyway. Up to 10 a year walk the trail, using roads as by-passes where necessary.

2006

New Te Araroa tracks now total over 400km. The links through to legal thoroughfares on the coast and river margins, make over 80% of the route walkable. This includes 15% on back-road trails. Local authorities begin to put Te Araroa into district plans. Regional authorities include it in regional walking strategies. Crown Tenure Review results extend the South Island trail.

2007

DOC receives $3.8 million to invest in Te Araroa across public estate. Previously, Te Araroa had financed these tracks. Te Araroa Trust and its eight regional trusts continue to develop all sections outside the public estate. It does this with support from territorial local authorities and regional authorities. These sections make up two thirds of the trail.

2008

New track openings and access to previously inaccessible routes makes over 90% of the trail walkable. The road component of the trail shrinks to 13.5%.

2011

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae officially opens Te Araroa on 3 December 2011. The publication Te Araroa: A Walking Guide to New Zealand's Long Trail is released.

2012

Geoff Chapple stands down as CEO of Te Araroa Trust, and is honoured with an ONZM in the Queens Birthday Honours. Rob Wakelin assumes the role of CEO.

2014

Te Araroa Trust opens the Puhoi Track, a track specifically built for day-walkers to experience Te Araroa.

2015

Te Araroa Trust receives a Walking Access Award from the New Zealand Walking Access Commission. The award recognises what it has achived in opening up many locations for public walking access. 

2015

Te Araroa Trust and DOC agree a further $1.6 million of construction over the next two years.

2016

Te Araroa Trust opens the Paekakariki Escarpment Track. This $1.4 million project between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay is another track aimed at day-walkers.

2018

More than 1000 through-walkers complete the whole trail.

2019

Te Araroa features on New Zealand stamps to celebrate the trail as a national icon.

2020

Te Araroa Trust joins in partnership with the New Zealand Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa to deliver the Trust's strategy for the trail.