New Zealand’s Te Tai Tokerau, Tamaki Makaurau, and Waikato were scheduled to be under alert level three until Monday (October 18), which means inter-regional travel was tightly monitored, and overnight tramping was not allowed, a report said.
A total of 650 participants registered to walk the whole Te Araroa Trail during the current season. The vast 3000-kilometer trek extends across New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Bluff and can take four to five weeks to finish.
Around 200 walkers were stranded on the road to nowhere, which meant that the only solution was to take a COVID-19 test and pair it with a flight ticket out of lockdown.
Claire Nelson, 39, a writer from the UK who recently came back to Aotearoa, had taken the opportunity to visit Te Araroa to reconnect with her home country.
So far, she’s spent more time at the Ahipara campground in Te Tai Tokerau than she had planned.
“We’d all entered into it, knowing that things could change and to prepare to skip the Auckland region. But no one was prepared for a Northland lockdown, especially so soon into the walk. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have embarked when we did.”
She was also dissatisfied by the conditions of the Northland lockdown in which two Covid positive cases made use of fraudulent documents to enter the area and did not inform authorities of their travel plans in the region.
“It’s a real kick in the teeth, as it’s a person who has deliberately breached the lockdown, and they’re not co-operating.”
Nelson had decided to take the Covid test and then fly back to Wellington and begin the trek again to the south of the Waikato border.
Another stuck tramper mentioned by the report is Victoria Bruce. She is walking the trail with her daughter of 7 years, Emilie. They had also decided to skip part of the North Island and restart the course in Taumarunui.
She resigned from her job to go on a hike to take a mental break from her daily routine and raise money to support charity on the way.
“We spent six days walking 90 Mile Beach, rocked up to the campsite, and the next day we heard the announcement Northland was going into level three lockdown,” she said.
Te Araroa Trust executive director Mark Weatherall estimated up to 200 walkers were affected by the lockdowns, many of who had planned their journey for many years.
He advised all trampers to observe the rules for alert levels in the area that they were in.