Female hikers ready to put feet to the test

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A new women-only group in the Upper Clutha aiming to make the outdoors more accessible is being launched with an inaugural hike this weekend.

Founded in the United States by Rebecca Walsh, Hike Like a Woman is designed to encourage women to get outdoors and explore in groups led by registered ambassadors.

More than 50 ambassadors located around the world lead group hikes in a volunteer capacity.

Wanaka-based Bozenka Raich found the group online and decided to apply to become an ambassador, although she did not expect to be accepted.

She is the first ambassador to be registered in New Zealand.

The women-only programme seemed to resonate with a lot of people who were looking to take the first step in exploring the outdoors, she said.

Although Wanaka was well-known for producing and as home to professional athletes, it could be intimidating for people who were less experienced in outdoor activities, she said.

“It’s really hard to try and find people to get together.”

Hike Like a Woman aimed to connect like-minded women and encourage them to get outdoors in a non-judgemental group, she said.

“It’s not about being a slim model on social Instagram.”

The Wanaka group’s first hike will be to Emerald Bluff this weekend.

The group welcomed women of any age and fitness level, although hikers needed to be aware of their limits, she said.

Miss Raich said she hoped to partner with other organisations in the future to deliver safety and educational talks as part of the programme.

Other plans for the group included a moonlight walk and a mother-and-daughter outing.

“I’m really excited.

“The outdoors does you just a mountain of good whether it’s physical or mental, and New Zealand is the best place to be outdoors.

“It’s a matter of getting out there and exploring.”

Getting involved in a group could also help with motivation, she said.

There had been a lot of interest since she started a Facebook group just a couple of weeks ago, and members were now gearing up for their first hike this weekend.

“It’s been nice to hear some women say: ‘I never thought I’d be able to hike’.”

Miss Raich has been invited to give talks about the group to Wanaka and Queenstown libraries.

For more information about the programme or the walk this Saturday, visit the Hike Like A Woman – Otago, New Zealand Facebook group.