Health & wellbeing, Things to do  |  26 Mar 2021

Anyone can “Walk a Mile in a Refugee’s Shoes” during the upcoming Walking Festival.

One of the new walks on the opening day – Saturday, 17 April – illustrates the festival’s fresh focus on walks that help people to “Explore/ Hōpara, Learn/Ako and Connect/Hono”.

It is among the 50-plus walks on offer between Saturday, 17 April and Sunday, 2 May, following a move to a new date and the pandemic-enforced cancellation of the festival last year.

For the first time at the festival, event organiser Taz Mukorombindo says people can join the one-hour walk around Hagley Park South to connect with refugees and share in the experiences of a refugee's journey – from their original home to a new life in New Zealand.

“To actually hear someone’s story is very powerful,” he says. “Establishing links between a new community and refugees can be a challenge, so it is important to build those connections and a walk and talk in Hagley Park is a wonderful opportunity.

“We need to hear other people’s stories to gain greater understanding, so we will also host a ‘Q and A’ session in the Netball Centre following the walk. We will welcome people from a mix of backgrounds and hope many members of the local community will join our walk and talk. The more people connect, the greater the benefit.”

For those who love a walk further afield, a new festival event – Discover Ashley River Rakahuri Estuary – will appeal on the opening Saturday.

During the self-guided wander, people can explore a very special ecological area, and talk to rangers about the wildlife.

On Sunday, you can head out of the city with your family to the other end of the Ashley River and join the Ashley Gorge Discovery walk. Take a self-guided stroll through stunning bush, visit a waterfall and enjoy all the activities at the Department of Conservation (DOC) Toyota Kiwi Guardian site.

For the many pooch lovers, the Dogs Day Out in the Red Zone is a favourite on The Walking Festival calendar. Explore the red zone around the Richmond loop, with heaps of dog-friendly vendors and activities dotted along the Ōtakaro Avon River Corridor. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome, but they must stay on a leash.

Festival programmes will be available at Christchurch City Council libraries and Service Centres from Saturday, 27 March or online from Wednesday, 24 March. While several walks require bookings, you can simply join the other walks on the day and marvel at the colours of autumn along the way.

Bookings open on Saturday, 27 March as The Walking Festival steps up and out in a new season.

For more information, pick up a programme or check out The Walking Festival online.