The Te Araroa Trail is not just for people walking from Cape Reinga to Bluff, but for Manawatū residents wanting to explore their backyard.
The section of the trail from Poads Rd near Levin to Bulls is monitored, maintained and promoted by Te Araroa Manawatū Trust.
Chairman Dave Grant says the trustees are keen for Manawatū residents to make use of the track - it is not just for through walkers.
Joining Grant as trustees are Paula De Goldi, Fiona Burleigh, Anthony Behrens and John Stroud.
They are working towards increased promotion of the Manawatū section of the trail with a focus on families doing trail bites. They plan to hold a public talk later in the year.
Since September, volunteers have put in 400 to 500 hours on track maintenance. Tasks include clearing gorse and blackberry from the track, removing windfall, unblocking culverts, and painting marker posts.
Volunteers undertake trail audits to make sure the track remains up to standard and the signs are still there.
Volunteer support principally comes from the tramping community and Scouts.
The Manawatū trail is about 114km with 38km on road verge. Of that, 29km is along busy roads, which Grant says is very dangerous to verge walkers. The trustees want to get as much of the trail off the road as they can, especially between Bulls and Feilding, but also the upper Kahuterawa Rd from Greens Rd, and Gladstone Rd behind Levin.
Palmerston North City Council provides great support in improving the trail route and facilities in areas under its control, Grant says. Manawatū District Council is developing the shared pathway from Feilding towards Bunnythorpe that will greatly benefit the trail by giving walkers an off-road path.
The trust plans to work with MDC to find ways of similarly improving the dangerous Feilding to Bulls section.
The Manawatū trust was set up in 2004, with Frank Goldingham the inaugural chairman.
It was established after encouragement from Geoff Chapple. In 1994, he wrote a newspaper article advocating a New Zealand-long trail and in 1998 he walked the North Island route to prove its viability.
Former trustee Ian Argyle put in countless hours establishing Manawatū tracks and in 2018 he received the Queen's Service Medal for services to outdoor recreation and conservation.
Grant has been on the trust for about 10 years. He is a keen tramper and a member of the Palmerston North Tramping and Mountaineering Club.
The trust is looking for additional trustees, particularly people with administrative skills. It also needs more track maintenance volunteers.
Grant says the future of the trail depends on a team of interested people to maintain and monitor it.
• INFO The trust is on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.