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. 
 

Contact tracing

It’s important that anybody walking Te Araroa registers on Te Araroa’s website as this will make contact tracing and information updates easier. This will continue to be important at COVID-19 Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 1.

 

Helpful Websites

Mountain Safety Council - Covid-19 Outdoor Guidance Website

New Zealand Government Covid 19 Website 

Department of Conservation Covid 19 Website

Ministry of Health’s website

Federated Mountain Clubs Website

New Zealand Recreation - Covid19 Website

 

Chief Executive Updates

Te Araroa CEO update 14: NZ’s borders remain closed to international visitors
 
A Government update on New Zealand’s current border closure suggests overseas travellers hoping to explore our iconic Te Araroa trail will have to wait a while longer.
 
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the COVID-19 outbreak is escalating globally and New Zealand’s borders will remain closed to non-New Zealand residents and citizens. New Zealanders are able to return home but must undergo two weeks of strict managed isolation in Government-certified accommodation.
 
There was no official word on when overseas tourism to New Zealand might resume but the Government has stated that it is actively investigating a ‘travel bubble’ with Australia and many Pacific Islands. However, this limited travel bubble is only likely to be viable if cases of COVID-19 remain low or non-existent in all countries that are party to the agreement.
 
We’re aware that yesterday’s Government announcement is unlikely to provide a lot of clarity for overseas walkers considering walking Te Araroa this summer. However, it does suggest the border will remain closed for a while longer. We will provide further updates when new information is available and look forward to welcoming overseas walkers again when it is safe to do so. 
In the meantime, Te Araroa remains an outstanding option for Kiwis who want to explore their own backyard and support the many rural communities the trail passes through. 
 
Most Te Araroa thru-walkers begin their three- to five-month hike of the 3,000 km trail in spring or summer, when the weather is warmer. If you are planning a multi-day hike on the trail during winter, please make sure you have adequate experience and gear and make sure to carry a personal locator beacon (PLB) or SEND device.
 
Stay safe,
Mark Weatherall
Chief Executive, Te Araroa Trust

 

 
Te Araroa CEO update 13: Te Araroa trail experience back to normal for Kiwis
 
The Te Araroa trail experience is largely back to normal following the Government’s announcement that COVID-19 has been eliminated in New Zealand.
 
As of today, capacity limits have been removed from all Department of Conservation huts and campsites, and many trail support functions – including commercial accommodation, cafes, supermarkets and retailers – can operate without restrictions. 
 
These changes follow the Government’s decision to move to COVID-19 Alert Level 1 – the lowest level on New Zealand’s sliding alert scale to fight the virus. International borders remain closed due to ongoing transmission of the virus overseas, but the shift to Alert Level 1 means New Zealanders can once again enjoy our 3,000 km national trail without limits.
 
Many businesses will have found life difficult during the lockdown period and will welcome the return of walkers bringing smiles, energy and economic benefits into their communities. However, it’s important to remember that the weather in New Zealand is colder at this time of year and snow may be present on some sections of the trail. Rivers can rise rapidly following period of rain and weather can change without warning.
 
For these reasons anybody considering walking during the winter months should ensure they have adequate experience and gear – including carrying a personal locator beacon if embarking on an overnight trip.  Those walking the full length of the trail typically do so in the October to April period, when the weather is warmer and the full trail walking experience is at its most enjoyable.
 
Last, but not least, contact tracing remains important at Alert Level 1, so please continue to register on the Te Araroa website, whether you’re embarking on a day walk or longer hike.
 
Please be safe out there!
 
Mark Weatherall

 

Chief Executive - Te Araroa Trust 
Te Araroa CEO Update 11: Back on track at Alert Level 2
 
The majority of New Zealand’s national Te Araroa trail is once again walkable as of today.
 
Large sections of the 3,000 km trail have been off limits for the past few weeks due to Government measures aimed at eliminating COVID-19. However, most of these have been lifted with the change to Alert Level 2 today.
 
The change will allow New Zealanders and international walkers who have remained in New Zealand throughout the pandemic to again enjoy overnight hiking on many sections of the trail.
 
Day walks, short overnight tramps and section hikes on Te Araroa are the safest option right now as New Zealand heads into the colder months. As always, it’s important that people consider their experience and take appropriate gear before setting off on a tramp.
We expect some thru-walkers who began their walk earlier this year will be eager to finish the journey. Before doing so, please take the time to carefully consider the suitability of your gear and which sections you still need to walk before deciding to resume your trip.
 
It’s important that anybody walking Te Araroa at Alert Level 2 registers on Te Araroa’s website as this will make contact tracing and information updates easier.
 
Please be aware of that some restrictions and limitations do remain in place at Alert Level 2, including the Department of Conservation’s occupancy limit of 10 people at all huts it manages on conservation land to allow for physical distancing. Walkers on overnight trips should carry their own cleaning supplies, as well as a tent, in case a hut is at capacity when you arrive.
 
Many commercial accommodation providers and services that support the trail will be open again from today but options may be more limited than usual in some parts of the country so take a moment to call ahead. Please also be aware that some individual tracks that make up our trail remain closed at Alert Level 2 – check the Trail Status page on our website.
 
Lastly, New Zealand’s borders remain closed, so the trail will not be an option for international walkers at this time. We will provide an update as soon as further information about the duration of borders restrictions becomes available.
 
Advice for walking on Te Araroa at Alert Level 2: 
 
Register on Te Araroa’s website – whether doing a day walk or overnight tramp
 
Do not walk if you are unwell.
 
Practice physical distancing and wash hands regularly – carry hand sanitiser where possible.
 
DOC has implemented an occupancy limit of 10 people in its bookable and non-bookable huts. Make sure to carry a tent if doing an overnight walk in case a hut is at capacity when you get there.
 
Take cleaning supplies with you for any overnight walks to help keep yourself and others healthy.
 
Some supporting trail services may not yet have re-opened so make sure to call ahead to check.
 
Consider the weather – take the right gear and don’t push your limits.
 
Be kind and have fun!

 

 

Te Araroa CEO update 10: Multi-day trail walking possible from Thursday

 
The Government has announced that New Zealand will move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 at 11.59pm on Wednesday 13 May.
At Alert Level 2, New Zealanders and any international walkers who have remained here during the pandemic will be able to head back into the hills to enjoy overnight tramping, including section and thru-hikes on Te Araroa trail.
 
The Department of Conservation has stated that it is preparing to re-open its huts, campsites and other facilities, but with some conditions in place to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading. Many commercial accommodation providers and supporting services will also be open from Thursday, although these may be more limited in some parts of the country. Te Araroa walkers should make sure to call ahead to confirm the availability of accommodation or other services they may be relying on before setting out.
 
Please be aware that the weather in New Zealand is becoming cooler and snow will begin to fall in some areas. Anybody considering walking sections of the trail – particularly those in alpine areas or throughout the South Island - will need to ensure they have adequate gear and experience. Prepare well, know your limits and stay safe out there.
 
It’s also important to register on our website, www.teararoa.org.nz/trailregistration/ whether you are doing a day walk, section hike or thru-hike. This allows us to keep you updated and will simplify contact tracing if any cases of COVID-19 are identified among people walking in the New Zealand outdoors. 
 
Lastly, the Government has stated that New Zealand’s border will remain closed for the time being, so any walkers that are not yet in New Zealand will not be able to embark on their trail journey at this point. We will keep you updated as more information comes to hand and look forward to the day we can once again share our beautiful country with you.
I will continue to post updates as more information comes to hand.
 
Stay safe,
Mark Weatherall

Chief Executive, Te Araroa Trust

 

Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive update 9 - What to expect at COVID-19 Alert Level 2

Overnight tramping on our national Te Araroa trail is likely to again be possible when New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 2.
A decision on when New Zealand will move to Level 2 will be made by the Government on Monday 11 May and we remain under Level 3 restrictions until then.
 
However, yesterday’s Government announcement and the subsequent update on outdoor recreation at Level 2 from Sport NZ suggests tramping may be an option for Kiwis and any international walkers who have sheltered in place throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
If the Government decision on 11 May permits overnight or multi-day walks on the trail at Alert Level 2, please be aware that some trail infrastructure is operating at limited capacity. 
 
In some areas accommodation providers and supporting businesses may not yet have re-opened, so it is important to plan and call ahead. The Department of Conservation is still finalising its plans to ensure they align with Ministry of Health guidelines but we understand they are hopeful of being able to re-open huts and campsites at Alert Level 2, potentially with some additional controls in place to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
 
International walkers who aren’t already in New Zealand will have to wait a while longer to walk the trail because New Zealand’s borders are expected to remain closed for a while yet. We will continue to provide updates as further information becomes available.
 
Thank you to everyone who has abided by Government restrictions on outdoor activity and supported New Zealand’s efforts to control COVID-19. Together we can beat this virus!
 
Be kind and stay safe,
Mark Weatherall
Chief Executive, Te Araroa Trust
 

 

Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive update 8 - Guidance for Te Araroa trail walking during Covid-19 Alert Level 3
 
The Government has today lowered New Zealand’s Covid-19 Alert Level to Level 3. This recognises our country’s outstanding progress towards eliminating the virus but it still places significant restrictions on outdoor recreation.
 
For Te Araroa trail walkers, the change to Level 3 allows people to enjoy short day walks (up to three hours total) on easy local tracks, so long as they stay within their local region, stick to their ‘bubble’ and do not have to drive a long distance to get there.
Overnight, section and thru-walks are not permitted under Level 3 restrictions and huts and campsites managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) remain off limits. DOC toilets continue to be closed and should not be used unless unavoidable.
We will continue to work with DOC to determine what restrictions will remain on use of huts and campsites when restrictions are lowered to Level 2. 
 
Restrictions on international travel into and out of New Zealand remain in place under alert Level 3. Overseas walkers who have sheltered in place during the lockdown will be able to enjoy local day walks on the trail but should not continue their Te Araroa thru-walk until multi-day tramping is permitted.
 
Alert Level 3 will continue until at least 11 May, when the Government will make a decision on whether it is safe to move to Level 2.
Detailed information about the kinds of outdoor recreation permitted at Level 3 is available on the COVID-19 Outdoor Recreation Activity Checker website, managed by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council. 
 
Advice for day walks under COVID-19 Level 3 restrictions: 
 
Do not walk if you are feeling unwell.
Walk only with people from your ‘bubble’.
Practice physical distancing (two metres apart at all times) and avoid congregating at scenic spots.
Limit walks to easy tracks within your area that can be completed in less than three hours. You may drive a short distance to reach these, so long as they are local.
Wash hands or use sanitiser frequently.
Avoid contact with “high touch items” like handrails, gates and benches.
Be considerate to other walkers (step aside to let others past).

 

 
Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive update 7 – NZ dropping to COVID-19 alert Level 3 next week
 
Outdoorspeople will be able enjoy short day walks on easy sections of Te Araroa within their regions from Tuesday 28 April. However, multi-day walks and section and thru hikes will remain off limits.
The changes follow the Government’s announcement today that New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert level will drop from Level 4 to Level 3 at 11.59pm on Monday 27 April.
 
Under alert Level 3 New Zealand will continue to focus on eliminating the virus but there will be some easing of restrictions on movement and outdoor recreation, as well as the kinds of work that can be undertaken.
 
According to the Government’s COVID-19 website, driving a short distance to enjoy an easy local trail is permitted at alert Level 3, so long as walkers maintain two metres physical distancing from other walkers and avoid walking with people outside of their ‘bubbles’. The website states that people must not drive for long distances or venture outside of their region to access tracks – the principal of “stay local” continues to apply. 
The Department of Conservation is yet to confirm that its huts and campsites will remain off limits at alert Level 3 but it is our expectation that they will due to the ongoing prohibition on multi-day walks. We will continue to seek confirmation from DOC regarding whether huts, campsites and other assets on public conservation land will be available for use when COVID-19 alert level reaches Level 2.
 
Restrictions on international travel into and out of New Zealand will remain in place under alert Level 3, so walking on Te Araroa by overseas travellers who have not sheltered in place over the past four weeks will not be possible at this time. Overseas walkers who have sheltered in place during the lockdown will be able to enjoy local day walks on the trail but should not continue their Te Araroa thru-walk until multi-day tramping is permitted.
 
Lastly, it’s important to remember that New Zealand remains under COVID-19 alert Level 4 until 11.59pm on 27 April, so walkers should continue to abide by Level 4 restrictions until that date.
 
Be kind, stay safe
 
Mark Weatherall 
Chief Executive, Te Araroa Trust
 

Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive update 6 - What to expect under COVID-19 alert Level 3

The Government has announced the kinds of outdoor recreation that will be possible when New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert level drops to Level 3.

According to the official COVID-19 website, day walks within a person’s local region will be permitted, along with swimming, surfing and shore-based fishing. Multi-day and section or through walks will remain off limits under Level 3, as will hunting.
For Te Araroa walkers, this means it will be possible to enjoy some portions of the trail that are not walkable under the Level 4 restrictions currently in place.

Driving a short distance to walk on a local track that is part of Te Araroa will be permitted under Level 3, so long as people travel in their own vehicles, keep to their ‘bubbles’ and maintain physical distancing of 2m from other walkers at all times.

The Department of Conservation is yet to announce whether huts and campsites will re-open but our expectation is that they are likely to remain closed under Level 3 restrictions due to the prohibition on overnight or multi-day tramping at this time.

We will continue to seek information from DOC regarding whether huts, campsites and other assets on public conservation land will be available for use when COVID-19 alert level reaches Level 2 and we will let you know as soon as possible.

Restrictions on international travel into and out of New Zealand will remain in place under alert Level 3, so walking on Te Araroa by overseas travellers who have not sheltered in place over the past four weeks will unfortunately not be possible at this time. Overseas walkers who have sheltered in place during the lockdown will be able to enjoy local day walks on the trail but should not continue their Te Araroa thru-walk until multi-day tramping is permitted.

Please be aware that the information released by the Government about recreation that will be permitted under Level 3 is for planning purposes only. New Zealand remains under COVID-19 alert Level 4 at this time to maximise its chances of eliminating the virus.

The Government has stated that it will make a decision on whether to relax its Level 4 restrictions on Monday 20 April.


Be kind, stay safe

Mark Weatherall
Chief Executive
 

Te Araroa Trust Chief Executive update 5 – hunting, tramping, swimming banned – 6 April 2020

Please be aware that hunting, swimming and tramping have now been formally banned under a new Government Order intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Te Araroa Trust has previously advised walkers not to undertake these activities on any sections of Te Araroa trail during the COVID-19 lockdown, but the new Government order now makes this official and ensures the ban can be enforced by New Zealand Police.

The order, which aims to clarify what is and isn’t permitted during the lockdown period, covers a variety of activities that could expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services.

At Te Araroa Trust our priority has always been to protect the wellbeing of walkers and we encourage all New Zealanders and internationals to comply with Government orders and our country’s collective national effort to beat COVID-19.

We are all in this together. Kia kaha,

Mark Weatherall

 

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