Anthony Behrens and Fiona Burleigh started walking parts of Te Araroa in 2011 and fell in love with the trail and the idea of extending their hospitality and home to others walking the trail.

Te Araroa is a single, continuous walking trail the length of New Zealand and runs from Cape Reinga to Bluff. The Manawatū section travels from Bulls south to Levin including cultural and environmental highlights such as the Feilding sale yards, the century-old Burttons Track through regrown bush along the Tokomaru River, views of Kapiti Island and the South Island, native bush around the Makahika stream crossings, and more.

The couple started what Anthony, with humour, calls ‘walker stalking’; inviting trail walkers to stay in their home,  but understanding that they had limited infrastructure in place for those doing the full walk. Fast forward to 2017, after many tents in the back garden and sleeping bodies on the living room floor, the couple decided to build a for purpose hut. The talented Fiona crafted this from a rotting shed and packing materials from a massive crate. Whiowhio Hut now stands proud as New Zealand's only urban tramping hut and runs off koha which is donated to Ruahine Whio Protectors - a group of volunteers who the couple are involved with who trap extensively in the Ruahine Ranges to help Whio flourish. The hut houses three bunks and there is a facility for campers to pitch tents outside as well.  

As of 2022 the popularity of the trail has increased exponentially with about 4000 through walkers last season and thousands of other day/section hikers.  Anthony, who is part of the Te AraRoa Manawatū Trust, notes how ecologically and logistically, the trail was not designed to withstand this kind of traffic. There is a strong move to encourage walkers to give back in some way, whether through koha or volunteer time so that the trail is better at the end of their experience. The future of the trail and the hut could be around conservation and increased volunteer action to ensure the unique rohe it passes through can be maintained and improved for future generations.

Te Araroa Manawatu Trust and Whiowhio Hut are both members of Environment Network Manawatu. You can find more information about their work on