The popularity of social walking groups across Tauranga city is gaining momentum and thousands of eager walkers are taking to the streets.

That includes Tauranga retiree Win Mudgway, who helps lead the Fraser Cove Walking Group, which meets every Friday at 9am "rain, hail or shine".

Mudgway, who lives in Oropi, said she first heard about the Sports Bay of Plenty City on Its Feet walking group programme on the radio about 14 years ago.

Now the 69-year-old is the co-captain of the Fraser Cove walkers who set off from the Worlds End Bar and Restuarant for an hour-plus walk.

Advertisement

Members range from their 60s to their 80s, and the oldest member is 86-year-old Mike Mellelieu, who is also group co-captain, but walkers of all ages are welcome.

Mudgway said she "absolutely loves" the chance to get out in the fresh air and catch up with her fellow members.

"I joined the group because there was no formal committee, no membership fees or major rules, which I liked, plus there is a strong social side to our group," she said.

"It's not only a great way to keep fit but it also helps to keep your mind active and sharp, and it's a fantastic way to meet new friends and maintain social contact with other people.

"That's important for everyone, particularly older people who can easily become isolated if they live on their own and don't get out much," Mudgway said.

Mellelieu said he used to run marathons, but because he could no longer run he joined the walking group about 12 years as a way of keeping himself fit.

"But it's really the social side which keeps me and other members coming back week after week."

Mellelieu also leads the Palmers Welcome Bay group on Wednesday morning and the Pyes Pa Walkers on Sunday morning.

Advertisement

City on its Feet has more than 25 free walking groups across the district including new groups in Mount Maunganui and Merivale.

Sports Bay of Plenty recreation adviser Michelle Burns said City on its Feet was about getting more people enjoying walking more often.

"Our focus is eliminating barriers that stop people from getting active, and it's also a great way to make new friends," she said.

For more about joining a walking group visit Sports Bay of Plenty's website.