Christchurch Ryman Healthcare residents taking part in the Walking for Wellness event were excited that the Travis Wetland park provided a historic backdrop for their walking challenge.
Diana Isaac village resident Penny Beardsley and a group of fellow village residents met at the start of the walk at the Beach Road carpark in the east of the Garden City.
The health-minded group were in great form, colourfully dressed and pleased with their progress on Ryman’s Active Ageing event for 2022.
In New Zealand, Ryman residents are using their steps on pedometers and apps to add to their progress on a virtual walk along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track over the 30 days in October.
In Australia residents are virtually walking 60km of the Mornington Peninsula over the same timeframe. Ryman Healthcare has villages throughout New Zealand, and in Victoria, Australia, and the walks by 1,300 residents reflect this.
Some have already finished the challenge, but remain walking in support of their friends and other residents they have met along the way.
In Christchurch there have been a number of inter-village walks including at Bottle Lake, Hagley Park and the Harry Ell Track and today Travis Wetland/Ōruapaeroa.
Penny said she was one of Christchurch City Council’s walking coordinators, under the stewardship of then mayor Vicki Buck in the 1990s. Both she and her husband Ron (a member of the Fire Service) did physical work on the Travis Wetland walkway with hundreds of other people over many months, she said. The Department of Conservation was also involved from the early days.
Pukekos and paradise shelducks were out in support and the surrounding wetland bush looked stunning. The wetland is close to sea-level and is typical of a pre-European plains swamp land.
“I’m very amazed to see how it (the wetlands area) has progressed. It was quite a little underwater swamp… It was kind of just scrub and rough tracks and everything was under water. We’re delighted to see it how it is now,” Penny said.
Penny is a melanoma survivor and said that she regularly walked on Tuesdays with a group of other cancer survivors around Hagley Park, finishing with a cup of coffee at the Antigua Boat Shed Café.
Alongside Penny was Shirley Piper, another keen walker. Shirley said she also took part in the earlier Hagley Park challenge, and with other residents enjoyed a coffee afterwards.
Ryman Chief Strategy Officer Mary-Anne Stone said the positive feedback from residents was continuing, with the virtual walk about halfway through.
“It’s extraordinary how many people are out there walking and we’re hearing beautiful stories about the difference it’s making for them.”
Some residents are using smartphones or smart watches to track their virtual steps, while others are using pedometers supplied by Ryman.
Ryman New Zealand CEO Cheyne Chalmers said the walkers had a lot of support. “At Ryman we’re cheering them on every step of the way.”
A virtual awards ceremony will be held on November 23 to celebrate the winners.