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.
Boardwalk on the Ahukawakawa Track
Image: Annelise Hunt DOC
We have had a busy and successful summer of construction, with four construction companies all making some great progress on the $3.5 million worth of track upgrades. All sections are complete except for 1) the Holly Hut track between between the Kokowai Track junction and the top of Veronica Track and 2) some parts of the track between Ahukawakawa wetland and Pouakai Hut. These two sections will be completed in summer 2022/2023.
We have engaged an engineer for the Manganui Gorge Bridge design and concept design is underway.
Highlights of the completed work:
- Completed steps with rock formation on the North Egmont Camphouse to Jacobs Ladder Track. Stones from a local quarry (Waiwhakaiho) were placed next to the steps to prevent scouring and they highlight the track edge to prevent trips and falls
- Boardwalk constructed on the Ahukawakawa Track to prevent tripping on the tree roots and protect the trees in the area.
- New track and bridge created at the Waingongoro Headwaters on the Wilkies Pool-Stratford Plateau track to move away from a high risk rockfall location.
- The design phase of the Pouākai Hut and improvements around the Pouākai Tarns.
- Define aspects of the Visitor Experience Design including safety messaging, wayfinding, entry and exit points.
Upgraded steps, Wilkies Pool – Statford Plateau Track
Image: Wayne Boness DOC
The summer of 2021–2022 marks another new phase of work for the Taranaki Crossing, with DOC awarding contracts for six packages of track upgrades.
The upgrades will focus on the track network from Manganui Ski Field to Pouakai Hut, and work is already underway following karakia from respective hapū and iwi.
In awarding contracts for this work, DOC has placed a strong focus on social procurement and regional benefit, ensuring investment into the local Taranaki economy. One contractor will be employing 12 Taranaki residents for the summer period, which reflects our local emphasis and benefit.
The summer work programme will mean some track delays and diversions when works are in progress – visitors may encounter up to 30-minute delays at some worksites. Each section will have up to date signage. DOC Visitor Centre staff and the DOC website will also be kept up to date accordingly.
If you are planning to complete the Pouākai Crossing please allow for an additional hour of delays and include this in your planning.
The work will be paused over the 2021–2022 Christmas and New Year period.
We have recently completed the upgrade on the track between Wilkie’s Pools and the Stratford Plateau.
- Defining the Visitor Experience Design component of the project.
- Continued design work on the Manganui Gorge Bridge.
Footbridge over the Waingongoro River (Wilkies Pool-Stratford Plateau Track)
Image: Kerena Wano | DOC
Wilkies Pool-Stratford Plateau Track works are 50% complete and have now paused for the winter months. A new footbridge at the headwaters of the Waingongoro Awa has been completed. A karakia with Ngāruahine and Ngāti Ruanui signified the opening of the bridge.
Visitor experience design waka wānanga have been completed with Ngā iwi o Tokomaru, Kurahaupō and Aotea waka. A codesign process for the visitor experience design will be constructed and defined by iwi representatives to inform the Visitor Experience Design Master Plan.
Engagement has been completed with regional leaders, concessionaires, and other stakeholder groups.
Design work for the bridge over the Manganui Gorge has begun
Procurement of six track work packages on the Taranaki Crossing are currently open for tender. These work packages comprise of the remaining track works from Manganui ski field through to Pouakai Hut. Site visits and tenderer meetings have been completed. There is a focus on tenderers showing how their proposals will benefit the region by using locals and local businesses.
Aerial shot of the Ahukawakawa Wetland Boardwalk
Image: Kerena Wano | DOC
Upgrades have been completed on the 4.8 km section from Mangorei Rd end to the top of the Pouakai Ranges, resulting in a consistent quality track.
Work has also concluded on the Ahukawakawa and Pouakai Tarns boardwalks. The upgrades consist of 720 metre of 1.2 metre wide boardwalks from the Pouakai Hut Down to the Pouakai Tarns, and 733 metre of 1.2 metre wide boardwalks across the Ahukawakawa Wetland. A karakia ceremony led by local iwi marked the start of this phase of the project.
Visitor experience design waka wānanga have been completed with Ngā iwi o Tokomaru, Kurahaupō and Aotea waka. These wānanga outlined the aspirations, project values, principles, experience outcomes and themes iwi have for the project.
Engagement has been completed with regional leaders, concessionaries, and other stakeholder groups.
Wilkies Pool – Stratford Plateau track upgrades have commenced. A karakia ceremony led by iwi marked the start of this work.
New boardwalk, Ahukawakawa Wetland
Image: Carl Whittlestone | DOC
We have completed upgrades on the 4.8 km track from Mangorei Rd end to the top of the Pouakai Ranges, resulting in a consistent quality track.
Work commenced on the Ahukawakawa and Pouakai Tarns boardwalks. The upgrade will consist of 720 m of 1.2 m wide boardwalks from the Pouakai Hut Down to the Pouakai Tarns, and 650 m of 1.2 m wide boardwalks across the Ahukawakawa Wetland. A karakia ceremony led by local iwi marked the start of this phase of the project. Environmental testing has been undertaken as part of this stage.
A visitor experience design waka wānanga has been completed with Ngā iwi o Tokomaru and Kurahaupō waka. These wānanga outlined the aspirations, project values, principles, experience outcomes and themes iwi have for the project.
Engagement has been completed with regional leaders, concessionaries, and other stakeholder groups.
Tenders for the Wilkies Pools to Plateau track upgrade have closed. We are working with the preferred supplier to finalise the contract and begin the construction work.
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
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. Read the media release on the Beehive website about 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.
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.
If you have any questions contact Carl Whittleston, Strategic Projects Manager - Taranaki Crossing, at email@example.com.