Morehu Wilson of Ngati Paoa addresses walkers on the Te Rangihoua cultural walk.

Organisers of the Waiheke Walking Festival are putting their feet up after notching-up all sorts of records with this year’s nine-day event.
The seventh annual festival drew 1500 participants of all ages, many of whom made several treks, says coordinator Denise Whitfield. The number of guided walks on offer – 50 – was also a record.
The lingering image of the festival was of happy, smiling faces, says Denise, who coordinates the event for the Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust.
“We had the biggest number of walkers, the largest number of walks booked-out in the shortest time and a record number of registrations – this year has been the biggest yet.”
Despite windy conditions, rain held off for the most part with last Friday night’s Glow Worm Adventuring for Families, the only event to be cancelled.
Highlights included several walks where landowners opened their properties, a Ngati Paoa-guided walk to the top of Te Rangihoua and a family walk to the summit of Maunganui.
Denise says the festival’s popularity is such that the organisers may need to review the bookings system before next year’s event. Not all who registered turned up on the day, meaning some walkers unnecessarily missed out.
The festival was well-supported by local sponsors and volunteers and concluded with a barbecue featuring local wines, beer and food at Bruce Plested’s Rorohara property.
The festival’s mission is to promote active community participation in conservation. • Geoff Cumming

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