A total of 25 km of tracks will be improved – creating a mix of short walks, day walks and the foundation for a multi-day walking experience at Taranaki Maunga.
A key focus of this project is to provide the maunga component for the 'mountains to sea' experience that Taranaki’s economic development strategy Tapuae Roa is working to create. We want to enhance the visitor experience at Taranaki Maunga, while also limiting the impact of visitors to this beautiful location.
Project funding and costs
Funding for this project has come from the Provincial Growth Fund ($13.3 million), which was announced in September 2019, and followed a feasibility study.
Additional funding to support the project will be provided by the Taranaki Regional Council, DOC, the New Plymouth District Council and New Zealand Transport Agency.
Work on the project began on 25 February 2020, following a dawn blessing involving iwi, DOC and representatives of stakeholder organisations.
The project comprises three distinct workstreams and is scheduled for completion in 2023:
- An upgrade to 25 kilometres of tracks, including board walks, bridges, signage and rest stops at features
- An upgrade or replacement of the Pouakai Hut and improvements to toilets along the upgraded walks
- A new bridge across the Manganui Gorge.
The visitor experience
When the work is completed, the visitor experience on the mountain will reflect the relationship between DOC, mana whenua and the maunga itself.
The project will also strengthen connections to the maunga’s natural and cultural heritage, enhance biodiversity and provide opportunities for local people, including iwi, to express their kaitiakitanga of the mountain by sharing their stories.
The Taranaki Crossing is expected to generate $3.70 million annually for the region’s economy by 2025.
Up to 30 short-term jobs will be created through work to upgrade tracks, carry out safety work and rebuild the Pouākai Hut. It’s expected there will be approximately 12 jobs directly created in the long term as a result of the Taranaki Crossing, with additional jobs created in support industries such as food and beverage and retail.
- We have awarded a contract for 1.4 km of boardwalks across Ahukawakawa and on the Pouakai ranges. Construction will start this summer.
- Work commenced on the minor upgrades required to the remainder of the Mangorei Track to provide a good standard of track on the entire 4.8 km of the track from Mangorei Rd end to the top of the Pouakai Ranges.
- The first visioning wananga on Taranaki Crossing Experience Design was in August. We were pleased with the good attendance and participation received for this hui. It included discussion on the project’s values, principles, experience outcomes and themes, as we work toward creating a “must-do experience” for Taranaki.
- We're excited about the appointment of Kerena Wano, Project Stream Lead – Strategic Engagement, to the team who started in early October. Kerena comes to the project with strong connections to Te Atiawa and Taranaki Iwi and a background of teaching and project management for cultural events.
- Draft reports for the Geological Risk and Environmental impact work have been completed.
- A report from Massey University on the Volcanic Hazard Assessment has been received. An eruption is likely to create a risk to damage of any infrastructure built, this will need to be factored in to design.
Route of the Taranaki Crossing: Green lines indicate tracks also part of the Pouakai Crossing, while blue lines show tracks that are not
What’s coming up
- Commencement of construction of the boardwalks and more work on the Mangorei Track.
- Tendering for further track works this summer
- Waka-based wananga with Ngā iwi o Taranaki to expand on themes and gather more input for the Taranaki Crossing Visitor Experience Design, and two of three waka wananga are scheduled for the end of November.
- Completion of the Geological Risk and Environmental Impact Assessments for Taranaki Crossing. This will result in a report that helps inform future designs for infrastructure and how visitors should be managed to minimise risk.
- Complete the avalanche assessment for Manganui Gorge. This will assess what potential avalanche impact there could be on the proposed bridge on the gorge and how the bridge needs to be designed to withstand any potential avalanche cloud.
We're pleased to report the following developments:
- We've upgraded 850 m of Mangorei Track with timber rafting. This is a significant improvement on what had been a particularly boggy section. Click here for a media release on this milestone, issued in early June by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones.
- We're in the process of engaging assistance for the Taranaki Crossing Experience Design. We can then engage with Treaty Partners and stakeholders to determine the key elements of what will make the Taranaki Crossing an unforgettable, must-do experience for visitors that reflects what's important in Taranaki.
- We've engaged Massey University to complete a Volcanic Hazard Assessment and finalising agreement with a supplier for Geological Risk Assessment. These are important pieces of work which are vital to our management of physical risks which are a factor given the landscape and environment we are working in.
- We're continuing to plan and scope the boardwalks across Ahukawakawa Swamp and to the Pouakai Tarns.
What's coming up
- We'll be arranging a meeting with potential suppliers for the boardwalks to discuss how the work will be procured and delivered.
- geological risk and Experience Design work will get underway.
- We'll also commence the environmental impact assessment for the proposed works.
- A site visit with Massey University’s Volcanic Hazard Assessment team to complete their field work.
- We're looking to complete some remedial work to the remainder of the Mangorei Track this winter to get it into good condition for the summer season.
What has happened so far
The Pouakai Crossing project now becomes part of the Taranaki Crossing, with additional funds available from the Provincial Growth Fund to complete the work. Substantial planning has been completed for Pouakai Crossing already, including:
- A volcanic hazard assessment, to tell us how tracks and assets might be impacted if Taranaki Maunga erupts.
- A geological risk assessment, to investigate the risks posed by landslides and rockfalls and recommend ways to manage these risks.
- An environmental impact assessment, to look at the potential impacts of track upgrades on sensitive flora and fauna, especially in Ahukawakawa Swamp.
- A cultural impact assessment, which considers the values that the local hapu, Ngā Mahanga a Tairi, wish to see upheld on the maunga.
Since funding for the Taranaki Crossing project was announced in September 2019, we have:
- Continued a monthly working group with Ngā Mahanga a Tairi. This hapu supports the project team with input on planned investigations and construction within their rohe on the Pouakai Crossing.
- Established a governance group made up of representatives from DOC, MBIE, Tapuae Roa and Ngā Iwi o Taranaki. The group has met monthly since January and works to ensure the overall success of the Taranaki Crossing project.
- Established a project team – currently this is made up of a Strategic Projects Manager, a Senior Works Officer and a Project Coordinator. At least one further role will be recruited in the near future and this team will be working with a host of consultants and contractors to complete the project.
- Developed a plan for how the overall project will be delivered, including schedules, budgets, resourcing and workstreams.
- Facilitated a site blessing by iwi and started construction at the Mangorei Road end of the track. A local contractor has been engaged to deliver the work, which involves upgrading the track surface to eliminate wet, muddy sections and reduce track-adjacent trampling of vegetation by visitors.
- Started planning for the design of the Taranaki Crossing visitor experience.
What’s coming up
- The project team will be expanded. Recruitment is planned to commence once COVID-19 Alert Level 3 is over.
- The shift to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 means construction work on Mangorei Track has paused. The track upgrade is 40% complete and it will be finished soon after the alert level reduces to a point at which work can safely continue.
- Non field-based work will proceed as planned during the lockdown period. We’ll bring on board a consultant to help us design the Taranaki Crossing visitor experience. This process involves partners and key stakeholders in defining what will make the Taranaki Crossing a great experience.
- Planning for pre-construction assessments on other parts of the Taranaki Crossing will commence. We’ll be seeking further investigations into volcanic hazards, landslide and rockfall risks, environmental impacts and cultural impacts.
- Planning for the replacement of rafts across Ahukawakawa Swamp and on the Pouakai Tarns track will also get underway, with a view to construction starting later this year.
If you have any questions contact Carl Whittleston, Strategic Projects Manager - Taranaki Crossing, at firstname.lastname@example.org.