Walkers on the Te Araroa Trail will have a safer journey in the Taumarunui area following changes to the route.
The 3000km trail, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, includes a revised 137km route that will now take in Pureora Forest's Timber Trail, King Country backroads and Taumarunui's main street, taking walkers off a section of State Highway 4 that was previously part of the trail.
"There was a time when we thought moving the trail off State Highway 4 would require us to bypass Taumarunui, which would have forced walkers to carry significantly more supplies with them between Te Kuiti and National Park Village," Te Araroa Trust chair David McGregor said.
He said the Trust had worked closely with the Department of Conservation, Ruapehu District Council and Ongarue landholder Cliff Tombleson to reach agreement on the new route.
"Mr Tombleson deserves particular recognition for his generosity in allowing a campsite to be established on his property at the southern end of the Timber Trail. Without the campsite the new route may not have proceeded."
Ruapehu District Council economic development manager Warren Furner said the trail was an asset for the district and walkers provided an economic boost.
Taumarunui New World owner Jeremy Lamb said the number of trail walkers passing through his store had increased in the past few years.
"We see about 10,500 people a week through our store in winter and that rises to around 11,500 a week in summer as a result of Te Araroa walkers, cyclists and other tourists. It's good for the business and good for the town."
Taumarunui Holiday Park owner Phil Draper said more than 400 Te Araroa walkers had stayed at there in the past year.
"Most of them stop for two days because they have just done five or six days in the bush. They are all interested in hearing about Taumarunui and they all have a story to tell."
In the past year, a record 550 people have walked the full length of Te Araroa and tens of thousands more have walked individual sections. Those walking the full length of the trail are estimated to have contributed more than $5 million to the New Zealand economy in the past 12 months, with walkers reporting an average spend of between $7000 and $10,000 throughout their four to five month journey.