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Interview: Geoff Chapple, Founding CEO of the Te Araroa Trust

Liam Butler interviews Geoff Chapple, Founding CEO of the Te Araroa Trust.

25 July 2014

Geoff Chapple is an accomplished writer, journalist and committed trail-blazer. He is the author of four books, including Rewi Alley, 1981: The Tour and New Zealand North to South.

This year Geoff has again updated his guidebook of Te Araroa Trail: The Long Pathway to include route changes. It is the official guide to New Zealand's greatest walk. Random House NZ $49.99

The Te Araroa Trail is a continuous trail running from Cape Reinga to Bluff, 35 years in the making, which officially opened in late 2011. The book maps the 3000-kilometre trail in 40-kilometre sections, with maps by leading map maker Roger Smith of Geographx.

Question one

As the founding CEO of Te Araroa Trust you must know the 3,000 km trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff better than almost anyone else. Which part would you describe as its most hidden treasure?

The Red Hills (Nelson region) are geologically astonishing, and the Mavora Lakes track is very beautiful - both are hidden at the end of several days' walk southbound.

Question two

Many older people love to tramp. Te Araroa includes day walks and long tramps.

What do you think are the best day walks in the North and South Island?

In the North Island the Tongariro Alpine Crossing can be walked in a day - but note that it is an alpine crossing, rather than a "day walk". Auckland's Coast to Coast Walk is a great urban walk full of surprises, and you can catch the train back!

In the South Island the Foveaux Walkway is a cracker, going through different types of flora and finishing right at Stirling Point. Just across the water Stewart Island beckons.

Question three

Your book combines history, photography and 3D maps in a way that entices the reader to walk part or all of the Long Trail masterfully. Do you have any tips for older people who want to encourage younger people to try tramping rather than television?

Take them out into the bush! Find your nearest hut and spend a night there with them.

Question four

What parts of Te Araroa are Wheel Chair Accessible?

Most parts of most of the urban sections are accessible.

Question five

The NZ Government is investing in raising the profile of cycle trails for the benefits of New Zealanders and the delight of tourists. What needs to happen for Te Araroa to fulfill its potential as a tourism revenue earner for New Zealand?

A good investment of Government money, even a fraction of the amount ploughed into the cycleways, would be a huge help.

Question six

All royalties of this book go to Te Araroa Trust. How can older people volunteer to ensure that the track is extended and maintained?

Te Araroa is the people's trail. Anybody, anywhere, can adopt a section of the trail and make sure it stays clear, weed free, and easy to follow.

Take in any Te Araroa walkers you find and give them a meal or a bed - you can meet fascinating people from all over the world.

If you have building or track-making skills contact the trust and offer your services.

A bit more about Geoff and A Walking Guide To New Zealand's Long Trail: Te Araroa

Geoff Chapple is a modern-day visionary who took the concept of a continuous trail running the length of New Zealand and turned it into a reality. Until recently the CEO of the Trust, Chapple complements the maps with a running commentary describing the landscape, the flora and fauna encountered along the way, as well as the special features of particular parts of the trail. Photographs of the trail illustrate each section.

Each of the 12 regional sections opens with a stunning 2-page 3D map. A short introduction describes the history of the trail as well as the variety of New Zealand's landscape along the way: forest, farmland, volcanoes and mountain passes, river valleys, green pathways and the urban areas of seven cities. This book is an accessible guide both for those who only want to walk parts of the trail and dedicated trampers who intend to walk its entire length.

To go into the draw to win this book CLICK HERE

Draw Closes 8th August 2014. Open to NZ residents only.

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