Can Wellington step up to the challenge of a long walk home?
As we found out in 2013, if a large earthquake strikes Wellington on a weekday, many of the city’s 80,000 daily commuters are likely to have to travel home on foot.
To be better prepared for such a disruption, Wellington city-based commuters are being invited to take part in Wellington’s annual long-distance walking event, the ‘Long Walk Home’.
This year’s walk takes place on Friday 6 December starting at 1pm from the Westpac Stadium. It will finish around 7pm in Silverstream, Upper Hutt - a total distance of 30 kilometres for those who complete the full route. Registrations for the event are now open, visit GetPrepared.nz/longwalkhome to sign up.
The walk is being run by the Rotary Clubs of the Hutt Valley in association with the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO).
Stephen Fitzjohn, from the Rotary Clubs of the Hutt Valley, explains why it is so important for commuters to get involved: “In 2013, the Seddon Earthquake caused our public transport network to close just before the end of a busy workday. Large numbers of people were left stranded in Wellington. This real-life situation inspired our friends at the Kāpiti Lions Club to organise the first Long Walk Home in 2013. The idea proved to be popular with commuters, and further events were held in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
“This year, we are giving people in the Hutt Valley a chance to be better prepared to walk home following a major event like an earthquake. From now on we’ll be running the events on alternate years, with the next Kāpiti walk set to take place in 2020. The Long Walk Home is a great opportunity for Wellington commuters to test their own ability to get home by taking on this challenge.”
The event is not a race. It’s about raising awareness and helping increase preparedness. It’s a shared challenge where participants are encouraged to get to know one another, support each other and have fun. The event is open to people of all ages and abilities, with most people taking between 5 and 6 hours to complete the walk. Participants can walk as far as they are comfortable. There are multiple checkpoints along the route where people can decide to stop if they are close to home or have had enough.
Scott Dray, Community Resilience Team Leader at WREMO, said: “There are a lot of benefits to getting involved in the Long Walk Home. Taking part helps to raise awareness that many people will have no choice but to walk home after a large earthquake in the region. We want people to think about their emergency plans and keep essential walking supplies at work, such as comfy shoes and warm clothes. Participating in a long walk helps people to learn how to be more prepared, mentally and physically.
“Well-prepared staff, who can get home safely, are in a much stronger position to return to work once they have checked on their families. Organisations which support this event will be contributing to their own business continuity and as well as playing a key role in helping build our region’s overall level of resilience.”
WREMO’s role is to lead and coordinate the effective delivery of Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) services for the Wellington Region. It does this on behalf of the region’s nine councils.
A $20 registration fee, per person, is required to cover event running expenses. To find out more about the Long Walk Home, view the route and register, go to GetPrepared.nz/longwalkhome. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 04 830 4279.