Jean Goldsmith writes:
On this my last Weekend after fifteen years I had a wonderful time. Everything went extremely well with everyone very happy. How could it not as the weather provided a mid summer treat with the heat almost too much for many. It was unusual to see the public still swimming at Walking Weekend time but it was an opportunity not to be missed by our walkers as well.
With a record number of one hundred guides, (we aimed to have three or four guides on each walk,) it was great to see the effort the lead guides had put into garnering their teams so all had a coordinated approach. They knew their tracks well, had the timing well planned, and were aware of any risks on the route. One does wonder if too many toilets on a track can be a problem as the extra forty five minutes taken by one group to use the toilet rather upset any careful planning. As most walks have no access to toilets this problem normally does not arise.
Every walk has a special feature so there are too many to mention here. With so many stories and so much natural history relating to Mangawhai the guides are eager for all information to enhance their walks as well as their own lives. Especially popular are the guides who lead walks over their own properties when their love of the land is so passionately shared. One highlight for me was the Te Arai Unwrapped walk which Belinda Vernon planned. She was out with Chris Wild last year on Natural Treasures where they touched on the Te Arai Regional Park which the Council bought about three years ago. This public area needs to be publicised so Belinda set about creating a track through some good bush to an amazingly beautiful sand lake. Without the impetus of the Walking Weekend she would not have had the desire to do this so hence my thrill. Thank you to her helpers that cut and scrambled their way through to create a new track.
Although the closing date is clearly listed on the programme there are still people who seem to ignore this. Partly it is because the newspapers choose to insert any articles about the event right at the last minute but when someone rings the day before and they live in the same street as the registrar one does wonder at their audacity to even enquire. Although it is plainly stated there are to be no transfers of names and there are no refunds people still cause embarrassment by asking. Then there are those who want to take a car when it is important for safety that the whole group to travel together in the bus. We specially put on a walk this year for people who felt they had to return early to Auckland on Sunday but it was not taken up. This walk had four people and four guides so they had a lovely time and we thank the guides for not canceling. The desperation to rush home on a Sunday did not manifest itself to any extent this year which allowed everyone to relax and enjoy the walks. On a group walk times can only be approximate and to agitate a whole group including the guides to keep to a time, spoils the walk. Congratulations everyone.
This year there were comments on the standards of our tracks. City people used to walking on well formed tracks in established areas like Auckland and Whangarei or even on city streets find our tramping track standard of track not what they are used to. We need to make sure that this is conveyed to participants more clearly in future.
Both the Troubadour Trail managed by Maxine Macdonald and her team, and the Food and Wine festival organizsed by Trish Whyte, seemed to be better than ever this year and are much anticipated adjuncts to the Weekend. With the Arts group having such a strong identity they continue have a special place in the overall enjoyment of the weekend. Pat Scott and her many helpers continue to overwhelm us with the magnificent breakfast.
In anticipation of a changeover Dorothy Freeman took the registrations this year. I still seemed to have a lot to do so I don’t know how I also fitted this in. Dorothy is also treasurer so she did a great job. I love the farewells with people calling out ” See you next year” and “have a good tramping year”. This seems to indicate success. All augers well for the future.