BY JULIA WADE
An iconic annual Mangawhai walking event that welcomes hundreds of visitors to step out and take in the areas natural beauty, is taking a year off ‘for a breather’.
Organisers of Mangawhai’s much-anticipated Walking Weekend, the Walking Weekend Charitable Trust (WWCT) have unanimously decided that due to changing times, it is time for a change, WWCT spokesperson Gordon Hosking says.
“Mangawhai has changed out of all recognition in the 20 years since the first, and then only, New Zealand walking weekend,” says Hosking. “There are now numerous such events throughout the country and there is a need for a point of difference as well as preserving all that has worked so well in the past.”
The decision to take stock and look to the future came after the 20th anniversary of the event and accompanying Mangawhai Food & Wine Festival this year. Instead, Hosking says the team of organisers and volunteers would like to work towards a collaborative ‘Mangawhai-wide festival with a cornerstone walking event’ for 2021.
“The Walking Weekend committee believes Mangawhai is big enough to spread its wings, gather the involvement of the wider community with a range of events over, for example, a four-day weekend.”
Founded and organised by local Jean Goldschmidt in 1999, the Walking Weekend has a long track record of offering thousands of visitors a chance to take in Mangawhai’s natural beauty, wildlife and coastal scenery via a variety of over 30 scenic treks, including kayaking and paddle-boarding tours.
The two-day event also involves the Mangawhai Food & Wine Festival, a showcase of some of the best food and wine the area has to offer, and involves more than 150 volunteers. Funds raised from the event helps the Mangawhai Tracks Charitable Trust plan and maintain local walkways.
The change would require broad support from local business, recreational and cultural organisations, and although Hosking says the WWCT committee would not lead the new initiative, they would organise the walking component.
“We are hoping that leadership of such an event would be on a community wide basis, but we are willing to be the catalyst that gets a group off the ground,” he says. “We plan to call a meeting of interested parties later in the year but it would be good to first gauge the level of support by hearing from likely participants.”
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“There is a need for a point of difference as well as preserving all that has worked so well in the past.”
The traditional Mangawhai Walking Weekend is taking a break and looking to come back with a new format in 2021. PHOTO/FILE