What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new virus that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a type of coronavirus. There are simple steps you can take to protect you, your family and whanau. 
 
What are the symptoms? 
 
The symptoms of COVID-19 are: 
 
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu. 
 
Time for symptoms to appear
 
We’re still learning about COVID-19. We don’t yet know how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected. Current evidence suggests it is 2–10 days. 
 
How it spreads
 
Like the flu, COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person. The scientific evidence confirms that COVID-19 is spread by droplets. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may generate droplets containing the virus. These droplets are too large to stay in the air for long, so they quickly settle on surrounding surfaces.  People may get infected by the virus if they touch those surfaces or objects, and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. That’s why it’s really important to use good hygiene, regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands, and use good cough and sneeze etiquette. 

 

Helpful Websites

New Zealand Government Covid 19 Website 

Department of Conservation Covid 19 Website

Ministry of Health’s website

Federated Mountain Clubs Website

Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive update 4 – trail walking during COVID-19 lockdown - 26 March 2020

We have today issued updated guidance for any walkers considering walking tracks that make up New Zealand’s national Te Araroa trail during the four-week COVID-19 self-isolation period.The lockdown began at midnight last night (25 March), with everyone in New Zealand required to self-isolate at home for four weeks.
 
The intent of this lockdown is to stop COVID-19 in its tracks by severely limiting any social contact that could spread the virus in New Zealand. 
 
The Government’s guidance states that it ok for people to venture outside to get some fresh air, so long as this is done close to home and people remain two metres away from anybody they are not self isolating with at all times.
 
With this in mind, Te Araroa Trust is asking people to walk only on sections of the trail in their local area and to avoid walking on any sections that would require a car to access. Some sections of the trail travel through or skirt urban centres such as Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Queenstown and Invercargill, and these remain accessible at this point.
 
Longer day walks into the backcountry and overnight walks must not be undertaken during the isolation period. DOC has closed all toilets and staying at a DOC hut, lodge of campsite during the isolation period is prohibited. Longer trips, including those that utilise shared accommodation, would increase the amount of contact between walkers and diminish nationwide attempts to prevent the spread of the virus.
 
This latest advice is based on consultation with Government agencies and other outdoor organisations and we urge everyone to follow it. By supporting the four-week shutdown period, we give the isolation period the best possible chance to make a difference. 
 
General guidance for Te Araroa walkers during the COVID-19 self-isolation period:
 
- Stay at home as much as possible during the isolation period.
- Shorter day walks on uncrowded local sections of the trail are possible but these should be limited and done only with people you are isolating with (maintain two metre distance from other walkers at all times).
- Walk only in your immediate local area – no to tracks that would require a vehicle to get to and do not travel to other regions to access tracks.
- Do not walk if you are unwell.
- Do not embark on longer day walks into the backcountry or overnight walks.
 
Please take care,
 
Mark Weatherall – Chief Executive Te Araroa Trust
mark@teararoa.org.nz
 

Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive Update 3 - 23 March 2020

Te Araroa Trust is today issuing new recommendations for people currently walking or considering walking New Zealand’s national trail during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. 
 
This follows the Government’s announcement that New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert level has moved to Level 3 (Restrict), and will move to Level 4 within the next 48 hours.
 
While day walks of individual tracks that make up Te Araroa trail are still possible, overnight, multi-day and section or through-walks on the trail should be avoided.
 
This recommendation is made both to protect the wellbeing of walkers and to ensure a high-quality experience for people enjoying the trail. At present New Zealanders are required to isolate and critical trail infrastructure – including accommodation – is no longer readily available.
 
Importantly, walkers should be aware that staying in any huts and campsites operated by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) for any reason other than an emergency will now be prohibited (they will remain unlocked, for emergency use only).
DOC visitor centres have been temporarily shut and many private accommodation providers and transport operators are temporarily closed.

International walkers should seek flights home
 
While our vision has always been for the trail to be an unmissable experience for international walkers and New Zealanders alike, now is sadly not the time for overseas walkers to enjoy it.
We urge any international walkers who are still on the trail to make plans as soon as possible to return home before international flight options disappear. Delaying this decision further may result in significant disruption and expense, and that is something none of our fantastic walking community deserves. 
Day walks still possible
Day walks on sections of Te Araroa remain a viable option, so long as walkers observe the recommended hygiene practices and avoid close contact. Spending time in nature is great for our mental and physical wellbeing.
 
Advice for day walks during COVID-19:
 
Do not walk if you are feeling unwell.
Travel to track access points using private transport. Do return walks on the same section of track, or loop walks so that use of shuttles is not necessary.
Walk only with those you are currently self-isolating with.
Practice physical distancing (2m apart at all times) and avoid congregating at scenic spots 
Avoid stopping and engaging in long conversation with other walkers.
Wash hands or use sanitiser frequently, especially when using toilets and other facilities
Avoid touching signs, and other hard surfaces that may harbour the virus
Take your own food from home.
Be considerate to other walkers (step aside to let others past)
 

Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive Update 2 - 20 March 2020

We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and its potential impact on Te Araroa trail.

The trail remains open but is not currently an option for international walkers due to the temporary closure of New Zealand’s borders to non-New Zealand citizens and permanent residents on 19 March. This closure has been put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

Any New Zealanders arriving back in the country or international visitors who have arrived recently must not begin their Te Araroa journey until they have completed the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period required by the New Zealand Government.

It is important that these rules are followed, and that any required self-isolation takes place outside of public spaces. Under no circumstances should Te Araroa trail be considered a location for COVID-19 self-isolation.

A significant portion of the trail passes over Department of Conservation (DOC) land, utilising DOC huts, lodges and campsites as accommodation options. These remain open but should not be used as locations for self-isolation for any New Zealanders returning home or anybody who is feeling unwell or has been exposed to a COVID-19 case.

I’m pleased to see that DOC is offering refunds on hut and campsite bookings for any cancellations related to COVID-19. More information about these refunds can be found on the DOC website or by contacting the Department directly.

Walkers staying in commercial or private accommodation along the trail route should take extra care to exercise good hygiene, including washing hands regularly. It is a good idea to carry hand sanitiser in your pack, for situations where soap and running water are not easily accessible.

It should go without saying that any walkers should avoid stepping foot on the trail if they are feeling unwell.

The trail continues to be a viable recreation option for New Zealanders seeking opportunities for outdoor recreation. Walking the trail is a great tonic for the stresses of modern life and we encourage its continued enjoyment.

While international walkers will be unable to enjoy the trail at this time, New Zealanders can continue walking trail sections, so long as they are in good health, sensible and adhere to Ministry of Health advice.

We will continue to monitor the situation and issue further updates as the situation changes.

Key points:

Good hygiene and practicing physical distancing are two of the most effective things you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19. It’s a good idea to carry hand sanitiser in your pack, in case you do not have access to soap and water during your walk.

·        Te Araroa is not currently an option for international walkers due to the closure of New Zealand’s borders (those already on the trail are of course very welcome to finish it!)

·        If you have been in contact with a known case of COVID-19, self-isolate for 14 days and do not embark on the trail (DOC huts, lodges and campsites are not appropriate locations for self-isolation).

·        Do not embark on a Te Araroa trail walk if you are unwell

·        Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and dry thoroughly. Where this is not possible, use hand sanitiser (it is a good idea to carry some with you).

·        If you have been overseas within the last 14 days and develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453

For the latest information, visit the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 web page.

Kind regards,

 

Mark Weatherall
Chief Executive, Te Araroa Trust

 

Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive Update 1 - 16 March 2020

For international visitors, it’s important to be aware of the most recent travel restrictions and rules regarding self-isolation upon arrival to New Zealand shores. At present the Government has implemented a 14-day self-isolation period for anybody arriving from overseas, excluding Pacific Islands listed under Category 2 on the Ministry of Health website.
 
This self-isolation period will affect any international travellers who are considering walking Te Araroa or portions of it over the coming weeks.
 
If you are arriving from overseas or have been in contact with anybody who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please ensure you self-isolate for 14 days before embarking on the trail. This is important to ensure you are not carrying the virus, do not spread it, and can embark on the trail safely.
 
For the removal of doubt, the trail and huts along its route are shared spaces and are not appropriate locations for self isolation.
If you develop symptoms including fever, coughing and difficulty breathing you should call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS), or the nearest medical clinic. These numbers can also provide advice on self isolation.
 
The Ministry of Health website also offers guidance on COVID-19, including general health advice and information for travellers. Please read this and follow the Ministry of Health’s guidance.
 
The Department of Conservation is offering refunds on hut and campsite booking fees for cancellations related to COVID-19.
 
Stay safe out there and look out for each other on the trail. 
 
All the best,
 
Mark Weatherall
Chief Executive, Te Araroa Trust