Welcome to our very first Tairua River Trail newsletter. You’re receiving this because you’ve expressed support for or interest in the trail in the past. We’re planning to send out this newsletter quarterly, and we’ll never spam you, but if you’d prefer not to receive them please hit “unsubscribe” at the bottom of this email.
Summer is around the corner and with the recent fantastic news about the SH25A reopening, we’re looking forward to seeing lots of familiar faces and new visitors to the trail over the next few months. It’s been great to see lots of young’uns out enjoying the spring sunshine on the trail!
Behind the scenes, the project team continues to make good progress on plans to connect the trail to Tairua via a bridge and new trail along the north bank of the Tairua River. We’ve formalised all our agreements with private landowners, obtained support from Iwi and completed the required technical and environmental assessments.
News from the trail
We’ll be out and about in Pauanui and Tairua over the summer to share our progress and plans. Follow us on Facebook for updates on where we’ll be and when.
A 120-metre suspension bridge across the Tairua River will be the highlight of a scenic 15km walking and cycle trail that’s set to form a key link in the Coromandel’s expanding trail network.
The Tairua River Trail, formerly known as the Pauanui-Tairua Trail, is already open along a 6.4km route from Pauanui towards Hikuai. The bridge and a new trail along the north bank of the river into Tairua will be wide and mainly flat - suitable for everyone from cyclists to joggers to families out on a casual stroll.
The Hikuai District Trust is a local charitable trust overseeing the trail’s construction. Its chair Derrick Adams, who has recently succeeded retiring founder Gary Fowler, says the completed trail will be a fantastic asset for the region.
“We’re bringing communities closer together which is the main goal for us”, Mr Adams says.
“The existing trail from Pauanui is already popular throughout the year and attracts tens of thousands of users over summer. By connecting it all the way to Tairua, we’re opening up a scenic and accessible route to everyone that we think will come to be known as one of the country’s best one-day trails.”
Aside from the health and recreation benefits of having a great new trail on our doorstep, Mr Adams thinks it will boost local business all year round.
“Connecting with a regular Tairua-Pauanui ferry service in future, trail users would be able to complete it as a unique loop – starting at one end with a coffee, finishing with a drink and a meal at the other end, then catching a quick boat ride back to their starting point.
“We also see environmental benefits for the precious Tairua River estuary. Our team of volunteers are helping revive native bird populations by pest trapping and planting native trees along the existing route.”
The completed trail will also offer safety benefits in Tairua by providing pedestrians a fully off-road route between the southern end of town and the school, Mr Adams says.
Following consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including landowners, Thames Coromandel District Council, the local community board, DoC, Iwi, Waka Kotahi, Environment Waikato, Heritage NZ, Walking Access NZ and community groups, the Trust decided a bridge and 15km route connecting the towns would be more feasible than a longer route along the river via Hikuai.
It expects to lodge a resource consent application for the next stages of construction next year, with the aim of completing the trail in the next few years.
“Public support will be hugely important to getting this project done and we’ll be encouraging the community to have their say over the summer. In the meantime, we want people to get out and about on the existing trail, to see more of what the beautiful eastern Coromandel has to offer,” Mr Adams says.
When completed, the trail will connect to other walking and mountain bike trails in the area, and could potentially be joined up with New Zealand’s national trail network via a route over the Coromandel Ranges in the future.
Mr Adams acknowledged the tireless work of Trust founder Gary Fowler and countless volunteers to build and maintain the trail to a high standard over nearly two decades. Mr Fowler will continue as an advisor to the Trust.
It has now been more than 18 months since progress has been made on Stage 3 of the trail from Duck Creek on Hikuai Settlement Rd to Prescott’s Garages in Hikuai. Work is scheduled to start again after Easter, with construction of a 1.8km section of trail starting close to Prescott’s Garages and working eastwards towards Pauanui. This section of the trail will be constructed in the parcel of land between the road and the adjacent property boundaries, known as the road reserve.
The Hikuai District Trust, a charitable trust responsible for planning and building the trail, has completed the following in preparation for the upcoming work.
Project Manager Andy Bolton says the team of volunteer trail builders are eager to get back to work on the trail.
“We’re delighted to be able to say we will be back at work after Easter once the traffic management plan is approved” Andy says. The existing 6.4km of trail has proven to be hugely popular, with more than 13,000 users recorded between November 2020 and the end of January 2021.
The trail also provided part of the course for the second annual Pauanui Half Marathon on 20 March 2021. The marathon supports the trail with proceeds from the event. (More information www.pauanuihalfmarathon.co.nz)
“Community support is rewarding for the team of volunteers who have poured thousands of hours into the trail’s construction,” Andy says. “So often when we are out working on the trail, people tell us how wonderful they think it is,” he says. “The feedback is encouraging and we are often asked when more stages will be opened up.
“This trail is a great asset to the Pauanui and Tairua communities, who will reap the value of this hard work in years to come,” Andy says.
Trail News and Maintenance
Good weather and the lack of adverse conditions over the last month have meant that Trail usage has continued to build. The committee is looking at ways of improving the Trail surface in some areas to enhance the utilisation & experience of users and ease ongoing maintenance requirements.
The website and Facebook page update is ongoing. Committee member profile updates are underway.
The following pests were eradicated over the reporting period: 2 x possum 5 x rats 4 x Good Nature Kills AT220 traps are working well. These kill both possums and rats. A graph showing seasonal pest kill rates will be added to our website. This indicates that February through to April is when the target pests are most active. Trail Usage Counter 2256 passes for the period 22nd August – 20th September.
Pub Charity funding has enabled a much needed upgrade to our sand dumper to be completed. Submissions to Local Body, National Authority and other donors / benefactors are being investigated. We would like to thank the organisers of the Tairua Trail & Tides Run / Walk event for their generous donation towards Stage 4 and look forward to this year’s event. See our Facebook page for more details. Firewood sales and public donations are ongoing.
Trail Stage 3 Progress
Progress along the Marginal Strip adjacent to the Tairua River is currently halted at the boundary between TCDC and DoC administered land. We are investigating the possibility of partnering with Iwi, Walking Access NZ, WRC and DoC to return this section of the River Esplanade to an area where the public can see and be involved in a wetland restoration as part of the Trail construction. We believe this is aligned with the bottom line principles of both Walking Access NZ and DoC with regard to the health of our wetlands and restoring public access to publicly owned areas. We believe that local property owners from Pauanui, Hikuai and Tairua could take a role in this partnership.
Trail Stage 4
The committee has now walked a possible route from the Tairua School to the Tairua Cemetery. We believe a walk / cycle way through this area would provide Tairua with a much needed safe access way to the Cemetery as well as an impressive start / finish point to the Trail to Hikuai. A basic map showing how this could be achieved will be developed for discussion and comment by all stakeholders and the public in general. Research into viable construction methods is underway. We await comment on the TCDC produced a map showing a possible alignment of Stage 4 of the Trail between Hikuai and Tairua circulated to stakeholders.
Health & Safety
Signage and Trail improvements are ongoing to ensure a superior experience by all Trail users.
Trail News and Maintenance
Flooding has closed the Hikuai Settlement Road twice since our last meeting. The Trail has come through pretty well and has been usable after each event once fallen trees, a couple of slips and debris have been cleared. Other damage seems to be confined to minor scouring on the inclined sections as before. The flooding hasn’t hindered the hardy trail riders from using it.
The following pests were eradicated over the reporting period:
3 x possum
10 x rats
1 x stoat
3 x Good Nature Kills
Counter 2450 passes for the period Mid-May to Mid-June with 1400 passes over the first week of the school holidays.
The 2019 Tairua Trail and Tides Run and the 2020 Pauanui Half Marathon are current public fund raisers for the trail. Submissions to Local Body, National Authority and other donors / benefactors are underway. Firewood sales and public donations are ongoing.
Stage 3 Progress
A meeting with DoC to discuss Trail progress originally scheduled for July 16th was postponed due to flooding and has been rescheduled to take place on July 28th . Further meetings with all stakeholders are in the planning stages. Trail Stage 4 Some discussions regarding where and how the trail is to proceed from Hikuai to Tairua and beyond are underway. Contact with the Ngati Hei and the TCDC Community Board have been made. The Pinnacles Cycle Club is also in contact.
Health & Safety:
Additional “Hidden Driveway” signs have been installed on a driveway where the trail crosses behind the newly installed safety barrier west of the Duck Creek Bridge.
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