Tales from the Trail
An Incognito Ambassador For The Trail

Once complete, there will be many aspects of the Kawatiri Coastal Trail which are considered to be exceptional and one of a kind. However possibly at the top of this list will be accessibility for all.

To date the Trail has seen almost 72,500 visitors, both young and old, and all with varying needs. And so we were delighted to learn of our 91 year-old Incognito Ambassador’s daily exploration of the Pūwaha Section of the Trail.

Photo: Our good friend of the Trail

Walking is an effective way to reduce the risk for chronic conditions and improve overall health. Some of the benefits include improved heart health, lower blood sugar, reduced pain, it’s free and a great way to meet people and boost your mood.

Having grown up in Westport, surrounded by the natural environment, the happy stroller loves nothing more than getting out on the Trail to explore the forest and wetlands.

Photo credit: Nomad Audio & Video – Section 1 (Pūwaha) Boardwalk through pristine wetlands

Whilst our good friend of the Trail wishes to remain anonymous, we sat down to hear about the time he spends on it, and the contribution it brings to his senior years.

How long have you lived in Buller, and what do you love about it?

I’ve lived in Buller all my life which is coming up 92 years. And that’s a darn good question, where do I start? When I look at the world conditions today it’s self explanatory. New Zealand is a great place, and Buller is the best of the country for me. I am lucky to have been able to work here all my life and still have my kids here too.

Tell us about your daily walks on the Trail. How far do you walk, and how often do you get out?

I try to get out everyday. I park at the Buller Bridge carpark, head over the bridge and follow along the river. Some days I walk further than others. It depends how much I have on my mind. The wonderful thing about the Trail is you never know who are going to meet on any given day.

Photo: Buller Bridge Carpark (The Esplanade)

Tell us about the people you meet on the Trail?

In the time I’ve been walking I’ve met all kinds of people. I talk to many locals and I have met people from all over the world. I meet a lot of New Zealanders who are travelling and didn’t even know it was here – and they love it. I can honestly say I’ve not heard one detrimental comment from anyone I’ve met.

Why do you choose the Kawatiri Coastal Trail, and how do you benefit from your walks?

First of all it fulfils something that has been much needed in this district for years. It is definitely an asset, and I enjoy the interaction of meeting all kinds of people. It’s great to get them talking, and it’s amazing what you can learn when you shut up for long enough yourself! I hope I live long enough to see the Trail finished. It’s a credit to all those who work on it.

I’d really like to see a continuation of the Trail go all the way south to Punakaiki. The youth of the Buller has had to leave the district in the past, because so much has been forced to close there. No one can take the Trail away, and it will bring people and finances into the Buller.

What for you is special about the Trail, and do you have a favourite spot?

The whole lot of the Trail is special for me. I’ve spoken to a lot of people, and everyone says it is magic. Electric bikes have made it easier for more people to get out and ride. The Trail is opening the district up, and it brings money not just to Westport, but all the towns the visitors pass through.

Photo: Buller Bridge carpark (The Esplanade)

The Walk

The Pūwaha Section offers a fulfilling set of experiences between Westport and Carters Beach. This restorative section of trail brings together a unique combination of native flora and fauna, wildlife and significant Māori archaeological sites.

Whilst only a short 5.5km distance, the accessible route is brimming with history and local secrets, and has much to offer cyclists and walkers. If you would like to follow his footsteps, you can read more about the Section and the highlights along the way here.

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