Festival Planning in a pandemic
by Tess Shaw | September 11, 2020
2020, a year to remember, or a year to forget?

We hope you are all doing well, coping with all the uncertainty that Covid19 has created, and getting out where possible and enjoying New Zealand and all of its glories. Many studies have shown that getting out for a walk helps the body cope with stress and uncertainty.

COVID19 has certainly created some extra challenges for us in planning this year’s Festival.

We were determined to develop a Festival programme that gives us the best chance of the Festival going ahead this year.  We’ve taken taking into account some of the potential restrictions that could be in place in November.  We will be able to operate at restriction levels one and two. We cannot hold the Festival in level 2.5 or higher.

While we don’t know what the future holds, you can be assured that the safety of our walkers and our volunteers is our priority and we will always err on the side of safety.  In the meantime, we are planning a Festival that’s a little bit different, while still full of experiences you’ll love.

We’re implementing some extra safety precautions, and doing our best to plan a Festival that can go ahead if we’re in a lower COVID Alert Level. These precautions include extra training for volunteers, limiting walker numbers on each walk more than we have in previous years, having hand sanitiser available, and working with our restaurant partners on appropriate seating plans. And it goes without saying, we will be adhering to all government requirements prior to and during the Festival.


What’s different this year?

We have essentially spread everything out, so we have 18 days of walks, and will have much lower numbers of walkers on each walk. Where possible, we have repeated walks that we expect to be popular.  We are delighted with the range of walks in this year’s Festival programme – new and old, over the revised 18 day format, including both a 5-day and 9-day Te Ara Hura.

We will not be holding a Festival Finale party this year, as those numbers are always well in excess of 100.

Bus prices have gone up slightly from last year, and that is intended to cover us if have socially distanced requirements, which would necessitate the buses operating at half capacity.

We are not printing and distributing the programme this year, there is a home printer-friendly PDF of the programme on this website. And all bookings can be made on the website.

Other changes to make note of are that we have introduced a Premium Walk fee for some walks. These walks most often include private land access, food and wine bookings, and charter buses, and are experiences only available through the Festival. The Premium walk fee reflects the special nature of these walks and will help cover the very real cost to us of managing food and drink options, negotiating private land access and/or multiple transport options. We charge a $10 Premium Walk fee per walker in addition to the third party costs for these walks. This fee goes directly towards the costs of running the Festival.

We are so pleased with the website again this year, it continues to develop and improve. Everything that you need to book your walks should be easily accessible here, and intuitive to use.  This year you can also cancel walk bookings on the website too, should you need to.

Patrons and Friends have an early bird access to book from 17 September. General (public) bookings will go live on 1 October.    We still have a few Friends spots available so please do join us as a Friend, if you would like to offer us that extra support and also have an earlier booking window! Friends also have a few extra walk spots that they can book.  The cost of being a Friend is $100, and you can do this via the website.

All of the factors that you have come to know and expect in the festival will continue, including our determined efforts to keep Kauri Dieback disease away from the trees on Waiheke, with our biosecurity measures to ensure your shoes and poles are clean at the beginning and end of every walk and also as we traverse various reserves.  As always, our wonderful volunteers will be there to look after you, provide information about Waiheke, carry a first aid kit, and use radios to keep the group in touch and safe. Please do listen to them and to your fantastic guides, to get the most out of each walk.

We hope that you all have some brilliant days out, lots of fun, some great walking and experience the best of Waiheke’s fantastic hospitality too.  We look forward to seeing you out there.


Welcome to the Waiheke Walking Festival 2020!
Our Sponsors

We couldn’t run this festival without the support of our Sponsors, Funders and Supporters. The Waiheke Walking Festival would like to the thank you all. Support our supporters to show your thanks too.

Presenting Partner
Principal Funders
Major Sponsors