Outside of the Rotorua Marathon and the Kurungaituku Netball Tournament there are not too many annual sports/recreational events that have been around in Rotorua for over 20 years! Why has the Rotorua walking festival endured? Firstly there were visionary people in the Rotary Club of Rotorua West such as Evan Jordan, Henk Bussink, Roger McElroy, Neil Goodwin, Sue Marsh and Rod Davenhill that got involved in establishing and operating the event for 18 of its 24 years.
Secondly key organisations such as Rotorua Lakes Council, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust supported it on an ongoing basis.
Thirdly the walking festival (formerly NZ International Two day Walk) established partnerships with many groups and organisations that provided facilities such as the Rotorua Netherlands Society and Lakes City Athletic Club that assisted the organisers through the use of facilities and volunteers. On a similar basis CNI Iwi Holdings Ltd and Timberlands have allowed our walkers access to our wonderful forest areas.
Significantly after just three years the walking festival established international credentials around the event becoming a member of the IML Walking Association and IVV, which make the event part of an international calendar of walking events around the world. The most significant factor in its success are the thousands of walkers that have participated in the event over its history. These people have come from Rotorua and other parts of NZ, but also from the far reaches of the world (eg, Finland, Russia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, UK, France and Australia). While the festival has ebbed and flowed over its 24 years, the walks in the forest on Saturday and street walks through the parks and reserves and geothermal areas on Sunday have been independently rated some of the best of their type in the world. Many locals are great supporters of the event, but most people in Rotorua have not undertaken the event.
Why should locals do it? People are motivated for different reasons. The walks are recreational and some believe that they are not enough of a challenge! To walk 42 kms in the forest on Saturday and 30 kms on Sunday is a challenge for everyone. But the appeal is that you could be aged between 8 and 80 and you can equally find a walk that is a test, whether you walk 10 kms on one day or if you wish to walk for both days. Some locals also say they can do these walks every day without paying a fee. That is correct, but you cannot find live entertainment by our local artists (at the start finish area), walk with people from all over the world and challenge yourself with others in a very social setting and receive a medal for doing it. This year we are challenging local organisations to form a team and come and walk the event and challenge yourself for a fun time! Over many years we have found families that have grown up around the event and come back each year. This makes the festival a very personal thing. To our local people, put a walk in the Rotorua Walking Festival on your bucket list! Go to www.rotoruawalkingfestival.org.nz.
2016 was the 23rd year of the festival, and the weather held out which was great, particularly for the walkers that came from place like Finland, Belgium, Netherlands and other northern hemisphere countries that are just getting through their winter. The international walkers always appreciate the Mayoral welcome and powhiri from Te Arawa on the Friday evening and this created the right atmosphere for the walks on Saturday and Sunday. The local walkers really enjoy the event and the opportunity to meet international walkers and over the years some great friendships have come from the festival. The next two years will be important as these will be the 24th and 25th years of the event and we are expecting a lot of interest. In 2016 we created medals for all participants who walk for both days and some of our walkers have been involved in the event for over 20 years.
Just a brief note to advise that the next Rotorua Walking Festival (New Zealand) will be held on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 March in 2017. This will be the 24th year of the festival.
We have a 20 year pictorial history of the Rotorua Walking Festival on YouTube. The link is here and it has been added to the IML Walking Association Website as well - click on the link.
The link for the pictorial history of the Rotorua Walking Festival is on our page of IML’s website -
Please contact me if there is any further information you require.
Rotorua Waking Festival
The event celebrates walking in the beautiful Rotorua landscape which includes forest, native bush, lakes, parks and our distinctive geothermal features.
The walks are conducted over two days and walkers can participate in one or both days.
Details to walks are as follows.
Saturday 18th March 2017:
Sunday 19th March 2017:
Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you over the weekend!
Rotorua Walking Festival Committee
The Rotorua Walking Festival is an exciting and vibrant annual event. There are walks that will suit everyone, from old to young, fast to slow. For all walks you will only need a comfortable pair of shoes so it is the easiest form of exercise to get involved in. We want to encourage as many people as possible to enter along with friends, families, and workmates to find out how beneficial it is to be outdoors and active.
While there are walks on two days available, you can walk either day or both days. From 10km to 42km walks, from the forest to the geothermal parks – there is a distance which suits every fitness level. The Walking Festival is non-competitive and provides walkers with great scenery, fellowship, and a real sense of achievement upon completion.
The walk attracts an enthusiastic group of walkers from New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Japan and the wider Asia area. On the first day, the three distances are based in the Whakarewarewa Forest – which contains a contrast of tree types from majestic redwoods, to a number of exotic forestry plantings. The redwoods are great, as they appeal to every level and ability – and also have many great vantage points were walkers can look over Rotorua and see the stunning lakes and geothermal areas.
Day one has three walks – a 10km walk, 21km walk (half marathon), and for the keen walkers out there the 42km (Full marathon) walk – all which show off Rotorua’s amazing trails amongst dense bush and overlooking the lakes.
Day two has a completely different feel to it – with walkers following routes through urban environments, past cafés, the beautiful lakefront and past Rotorua’s world famous geothermal hot spots. The distances on day two include 10km, 21km, and 30km walks.
The Rotorua Walking Festival is a great weekend out for all – with the added benefits of being active in a beautiful non-competitive environment.
Register today. Cheque payable to: NZ Walking Association Inc.
Post to: NZ Walking Association PO Box 1715 Rotorua New Zealand Direct credit to Bank a/c 03 1552 0446953 000