A new guide featuring five short walks close to Gisborne aims at getting people out in the natural environment to improve wellbeing.

The free guide, called Ways to Wellness: He Ara Taiao ki te Ora Tairāwhiti, is a collaborative effort between the Department of Conservation (DoC), wellbeing sector and Iwi partners.

“The guide has a nature therapy focus, encouraging people to spend time in nature for their mental and physical wellbeing, healing, and recovery,” DoC Tairāwhiti operations manager Matt Tong said.

“We’re thrilled to release the guide in time for the summer as the days get longer and the whenua is drying out, giving people more opportunity to explore our beautiful region and connect with te taiao (nature).”

“Similar to how a doctor recommends physical activity as a therapy for many conditions, this guide suggests nature as therapy.

“Not only are there the many benefits of physical activity while connecting with te taiao, there is also evidence of the positive impact on mental wellbeing, recovery time, and other factors in our overall wellbeing,” Mr Tong said.

The guide featured five short walks close to the city, as well as information on where to loan a ViMo (all-terrain wheelchair) for free, how to get involved in volunteering, and nature-focused activities for families.

For those wanting to go on their own wairua (spiritual) journey, ideas for how to get started are also in the guide.

Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Ngā Manu Taupua manager Kelly Nelson said getting outdoors supports overall wellbeing in many ways.

“Not only are our local walking tracks a place for movement, but they are also great spaces to connect with te taiao for play and taking a break from our busy lives.”

Tairāwhiti Community Voice co-ordinator Tracy Bacon, representing social services, is pleased to hear of the great incentive in our region.

“With cost a barrier to many, this allows all to participate. We will utilise this as part of the support to our community, enhancing the wellness of many.”

With summer approaching, people can start their ways to wellness journey by picking up or downloading a copy of the guide.

The guide will be available from the Department of Conservation, Tairāwhiti Environment Centre, Sports Gisborne Tairāwhiti, Gisborne Volunteer Centre, GDC and online at www.doc.govt.nz.

It will also be distributed by doctors, mental health advocates, disability sector staff, and partner organisations.

 [From Gisborne Herald - 19 December 2023]