New bridge, complete track

The eastern end of the Manawatu Gorge track is once again completely open after a walking bridge has been replaced. 

The old bridge had no longer been fit for purpose, as due to the design and location, was often under water when river levels got high. The new bridge is higher and sturdier than its predecessor and will improve safety and accessibility for Manawatu Gorge visitors.

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Walkers can once again enjoy the full 11km walk from one end of the Gorge to the other, or take a shorter stroll with the loop options at either end. Tracks can be accessed from the car parks at both ends. For your safety, please adhere to all signs and barriers.

Horizons Regional Council restricts river access as a precaution

Horizons Regional Council is working with river users to restrict on-water activities through Te Apiti - Manawatu Gorge as a safety precaution.

The Gorge has been closed to traffic since two large land slips blocked the road in April. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) geotechnical reports have identified that rock conditions remain unstable and further slips are possible.

Horizons emergency manager Ian Lowe says due to the high risk of rock fall into the Manawatū River the Council has restricted on-water activities on the stretch of the river through the Gorge until further notice.

“Under our navigation safety function we are advising all river users to keep clear of the stretch between the road bridge downstream of Ferry Reserve and the confluence of the Manawatū and Pohangina rivers. Signage advising this will be erected at Ferry Reserve, the Ashhurst end carpark to the walking tracks and Ashhurst Domain.

“At this stage we are not sure how long this stretch of the river will need to be avoided. However, public safety is our top priority, and with the potential for large boulders to fall into the river, this restricted access is absolutely necessary.”

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon says the Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge walking tracks remain open and encourages the public to continue using them.

“While the river and road are closed, the tracks are still open for business. Based on information from NZTA’s geotechnical reports, we have determined the tracks are at least 300 metres away from the furthest possible slip area in established native forest, and at very low risk of being affected.

“Signage regarding track status is also going to be established at the road closure barrier in the next few weeks. This will indicate if there has been any impact on the tracks as a result of a slip.”

Mr Lowe says Horizons is working closely with a number of agencies such as NZTA, the Department of Conservation, local Councils and Police to plan for a number of possible scenarios.

“This includes a slip potentially causing a partial blockage in the river. While we cannot predict when this may happen we’d like to be prepared just in case.”

Members of the public are reminded to please stay away from the slip site and not proceed beyond the locked gate at the entrances to the Gorge. For more information on the Gorge road closure go to this NZTA web page and for track information please see the alerts page on our website.

$100,000 funding boost to fight invasive weeds in Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge

The Department of Conservation (DOC) will be contributing an extra $100,000 to target invasive weeds within Te Apiti - Manawatu Gorge.

The funding is part of DOC’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ weeds programme benefitting weed control projects across the country, targeting those weeds identified as doing the most damage to our natural landscapes. 

The Te Apiti - Manawatu Gorge Governance Group, made up of senior representatives from Horizons Regional Council, DOC, Palmerston North City Council, Tararua District Council, Manawatu District Council, iwi and a community representative, welcome this much needed funding boost.

The Group’s membership reflects the high level of commitment towards protecting, enhancing and sustaining the biodiversity, recreational, educational and cultural values of the wider Manawatu Gorge area. The Gorge offers a range of recreational activities in a highly-visited biodiversity management and scenic location, which has the potential to contribute to a stronger economy, community and cultural wellbeing.

The Governance Group has set itself goals, which in its first year includes budget for pest control and parks and reserve management, and the compiling of an overarching biodiversity management plan for the area. 

DOC director operations Lower North Island and Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge Governance Group member Reg Kemper says the funding will target two areas. $80,000 will be used for ground control of old man’s beard and the remaining $20,000 will be used for control of Japanese honeysuckle and wandering willie.

“This funding is in addition to the project’s current $50,000 budget, which we hope will allow us to treat all accessible old man’s beard vines in the project area during the upcoming season,” says Horizons Regional Council and Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge Governance Group Chair Bruce Gordon.

“If this is achieved, future old man’s beard control will consist of maintenance works at a much reduced cost and the native forest will be protected from one of its major threats,” says Mr Gordon.

The work to control Japanese honeysuckle and wandering willie will be undertaken by Rangitane iwi, who are stakeholders in the Te Apiti - Manawatu Gorge project.

“This extra funding is most welcome as we hope the control work carried out on these two weeds will make a significant impact on the project area,” says Mr Gordon. 

“It comes at a time when the Gorge is faced with significant challenges due to its roading infrastructure. However, we want to remind everyone that the walking and mountain bike tracks are still very much open. 

“The recreational values of the Gorge have continued to prove popular over the last five years, with walking track visitor numbers increasing by 350 per cent since 2012. The Governance Group has funded work to upgrade the Grade 3 Te Ara o Mahurangi mountain bike track, re-routed the 11 km full length walking track, made commitments towards the development of a new 4km walking track at the Ashhurst end of the Gorge and a toilet on the Tawa Loop track, as well as received central government funding to replace single pan permaloos with larger toilet blocks at both ends of the popular visitor destination before the start of summer.

“Freedom camping numbers at Ferry Reserve have also increased, and the Gorge Governance Group wants to encourage more visitors to stay in the area, where they can enjoy a unique scenic reserve and quality experience while contributing to the Region’s economy.”

Mr Kemper says DOC staff are currently working to assess and long-term implications of track stability and safety. Maintenance includes monthly inspections in accordance with DOC standards for this kind of facility. 

“We also complete other inspections in response to natural events such as storms and earthquakes, as well as in response to user feedback about track conditions or issues,” says Mr Kemper.  

The Gorge Governance Group will be presented with a geotechnical report on land stability in the park’s recreational areas at its August meeting.

For more information on Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge visit www.teapiti.com. For more information on the War on Weeds visitwww.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and-threats/war-on-weeds/

Mid-Sized Tourism Funds for additional facilities in Te Apiti

Tourism Minister Hon Paula Bennett announced today that Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge will receive $105,800 to help replace single pan permaloos with larger toilet blocks at both ends of the popular visitor destination. 

As part of a wider $5.2 million national announcement, Minister Bennett said this funding will be a relief for communities responding to the steady stream of visitors they are seeing.

“Tourism is hugely important to many of our regional economies and infrastructure is essential to harnessing the benefits of growth in the sector,” she says.

Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge Governance Group and Horizons Regional Council Chair Bruce Gordon says walking track visitor numbers have increased by 350 per cent since 2012.

“This has meant the current toilet facilities at the respective Ashhurst Carpark and Ferry Reserve ends of the Manawatu Gorge have outgrown capacity,” says Mr Gordon.

“A proposed new mountain bike track is being considered as a result of the Accelerate25 Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan; such a development will further increase visitor pressure given this activity is a year round one that isn’t weather dependent.

“This funding will contribute towards a project to replace the current single pan permaloos with larger toilet blocks at both locations, catering for increasing visitor numbers and providing for continued tourism growth in this area.”

The estimated cost of the project is $178,000. In addition to central government’s funding Horizons Regional Council, Palmerston North City Council, and Tararua District Council will contribute $20,000 each. 

Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis says as well as walking visitors, an excess of 8,000 vehicles a day on average travel through this part of the Region, and an estimated 100 campers stay in Ferry Reserve every week. 

“The recreational values of the Gorge continue to prove popular. Encouraging more visitors to stay in the area, and giving them a quality experience while they are here is good for our economy,” says Mrs Collis. 

“It’s also great to have some positive news about the Gorge when the challenge of keeping the road open is clearly at the front of people's minds currently.”

“Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge is highly prized by locals for its recreational, biodiversity, cultural and educational value with more that 100,000 visitors in the last year,” says Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith.

“The Gorge offers a range of recreational activities in a highly-visited biodiversity management and scenic location, which has the potential to contribute to a stronger economy, community and cultural wellbeing.” 

The mayors and chair are part of the recently formed Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge Governance Group, a collaboration between the three councils, along with Manawatu District Council, Department of Conservation, iwi, landowners and individuals. 

Mr Gordon says the Group’s membership reflects the high level of commitment towards protecting, enhancing and sustaining the wider Manawatu Gorge area.

“The Governance Group has set itself a 10-year vision, which in its first year includes budget for pest control and parks and reserve management, and the compiling of an overarching biodiversity management plan for the area. We have also funded work to upgrade the Grade 3 Te Ara o Mahurangi mountain bike track.

Last month, Conservation Minister Hon Maggie Barry opened the newly re-routed 11 km full length walking track and also made commitments towards the development of a new 4km walking track at the Ashhurst end of the Gorge and the toilet on the Tawa Loop track. Relocations within the park are also planned for the single pan permaloos.

Re-route on Manawatu Gorge Track (eastern end)

29 May 2017: Re-route on Manawatu Gorge Track (eastern end)

A section of the Manawatu Gorge Track traversing Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge has recently been re-routed around a large slip towards the eastern end. The re-route has added approximately 1 km to the length of the track, climbing up and around the active slip site. This should add about half an hour to your usual walking time.

There may be some movement and slumping of earth on the new track as it settles. This is normal; we will be undertaking regular monitoring and remedial workover the next few months to manage this.

The full 11 km Manawatu Gorge Track is currently open and safe to walk.

Take care when walking the new section and report any significant damage to DOC’s Palmerston North office (email manawatu@doc.govt.nz or phone +64 6 350 9700).

     

    Media Release: Maggie Barry to reopen Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge full-length walking track

    During her visit to Palmerston North on Tuesday 16 May, Hon Minister Maggie Barry will cut a ribbon to reopen the full-length walking track in Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge.

    Minister Barry reopening Manawatu Gorge Track

    Allanah Irvine, Manawatu Operations Manager for the Department of Conservation says the track has been closed since September last year, following a large slip at the eastern end of the Gorge. 

    “Following consultation with iwi, DOC hired contractors to re-route the track. Due to the amount of soil lost at the site, this work involved adding an additional 1 km to the 10 km length.”

    Allanah says, “With an increase of walking track visitor numbers by 350 per cent since 2012, the longer, rerouted track will add a new experience for visitors, and complements the many other recreational opportunities that Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge offers.”

    “It’s an important biodiversity site as well. The landscape, native bush and wildlife is an asset to the whole region. The river divides two mountain ranges but links three districts together.” 

    During Minister Barry’s visit to Te Apiti, she will meet with the recently formed Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge Governance Group.

    This Group is a collaboration between Horizons Regional Council, Tararua District Council, Manawatu District Council, Palmerston North City Council, DOC, iwi, landowners and individuals. 

    Mayors from Palmerston North, Tararua District Council and Manawatu District Mayor have been invited to join the Minister in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

    Bruce Gordon, Te ApitiGovernance Group Chair and Horizons Regional Council Chair says the Group’s membership reflects the high level of commitment towards protecting, enhancing and sustaining the biodiversity, recreational, educational and cultural values of the wider Manawatu Gorge area. 

    “The Gorge offers a range of recreational activities in a highly-visited biodiversity management and scenic location, which has the potential to contribute to a stronger economy, community and cultural wellbeing. 

    “The Governance Group has set itself a 10-year vision, which in its first year includes budget for pest control and parks and reserve management, and the compiling of an overarching biodiversity management plan for the area.

    “We have also funded work to upgrade the Grade 3 Te Ara o Mahurangi mountain bike track. Working with the Manawatu Mountain Bike Club, the track will be repaired and realigned making it accessible to more ages and abilities. This work started last week.”

    In addition to the newly re-routed 11 km full length walking track, further recreational opportunities in the Gorge include the popular 4 km Tawa Loop walk that takes walkers past the impressive Whatonga sculpture, and shorter loop walks at either end of the Gorge.

    At the eastern end there is a short, stroller-friendly loop, which is close to a playground, toilets, and the Bridge Café. Also at the Woodville end is Ferry Reserve, a popular freedom camping and swimming spot which has recently had a free gas barbeque installed.

    Allanah Irvine says that while the road has been temporarily closed and work on the Big Slip lookout walk will take a few months to complete, the rest of the Gorge walks are very much still open.

    Slip expected to keep Manawatu Gorge closed for three weeks

    The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that the Manawatu Gorge is likely to remain closed for three weeks because of slips on the road.

    Transport Agency Highway Manager Ross I’Anson says there are two slips. One slip of approximately 200m3 at the southern end (Ashhurst) of the gorge is expected to take about a day and a half to clear, but there is a much larger slip of approximately 3,500m3 at the north/eastern end (Woodville). Early estimates are that it could take contractors three weeks to clear the slip and make the road safe again.  The northern slip is small compared to the size of the large 2011 slip, which closed the road for 16 months

    “Geotechnical engineers and Transport Agency staff have done a preliminary assessment of the slips, with a drone flyover, ensuring that it is safe for crews to start clearing slip material and stabilising the slopes. More detailed analysis will now be done and a further meeting between the Transport Agency and engineers tomorrow at 9am will decide on the next steps”.

    Motorists can use the Pahiatua Track and the Saddle Road as alternative routes.

    Motorists can check the latest information on highway conditions, delays and closures at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz, or by calling 0800 4 HIGWHAYS (0800 44 44 49).

    Media Release: Busy time on Manawatu Gorge tracks

    Several projects aimed at making Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge safer for visitors are due to begin in February.

    Allanah Irvine, Manawatu Operations Manager for the Department of Conservation says contractors will reroute the 10km walking track, remove slumped material above the Big Slip and spruce up the Te Ara o Mahurangi mountain bike track.

    “There is a lot happening in Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge right now. Unfortunately, the good weather that entices people to get outdoors is also the kind of weather we need for doing track work. We are doing our best to ensure the work doesn’t disrupt track users too much and the result will be a safer, better experience for Te Apiti visitors,” she says.

    The re-alignment of a section of the main walking track is set to begin on 2 February.

    This will re-route the track over a large slip that closed the eastern end of the track in September 2016. The work is expected to take 6-7 weeks, weather dependent. It is hoped that this will be completed in time for the ‘Manawatu Gorge Walking Festival’ and ‘Race to the Brewery’ events in March.

    Ms Irvine says while the full 10km walking track cannot be completed until the re-route is finished, visitors can enjoy many other recreational opportunities available in the Gorge.

    “Shorter loop walks at either end of the track are still accessible. The Tawa Loop Walk at the western end is a 4km circuit that takes walkers past the impressive Whatonga sculpture. Sentinel Lookout is roughly halfway, making it a good spot for people to turn around and return to the western car park.

    “Down at the eastern end there is a short, stroller-friendly loop, which is close to a playground, toilets, and the Beyond the Bridge Café – so it’s a great destination for young families.”

    It is also still possible to complete a longer one-way walk via the Upper Gorge Bridge track. This route is approximately 7.5km, which can be accessed from State Highway 3, near the Upper Gorge Bridge. A small gravel shoulder on the northern side of road, just west of the Upper Gorge Bridge, provides space for a few cars to park. The track begins on the other side of the road; walkers should use the underpass below the bridge to cross safely.

    At the western end of the track, Higgins Contracting will be working to remove slumped material from above the Big Slip. Please be aware that heavy machinery will be crossing the walking track to access the site.

    This work is scheduled to begin on 13 February and should be completed by the beginning of April.


    The slip site is near the main Manawatu Gorge Track, which will remain open to walkers, however the track from the Whatonga sculpture to the ‘Big Slip Lookout’ will be closed for the duration of the work. Walkers should expect delays, and will need to exercise caution and be patient.

    Te Ara o Mahurangi mountain bike track is also set to get a much-needed spruce up. Originally classified as a Grade 3 (intermediate level) track, sections have deteriorated making it more difficult to ride. Deep ruts have formed on the steep dropping corners, some up to 20cm deep.

    Ms Irvine says, “Work to repair and realign the bike track is scheduled to begin in Autumn. The aim will be to make the track accessible to a wider range of riders. This work is being funded by the Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge Governance Group, and led by the Manawatu Mountain Bike Club who have an agreement to maintain the track. In the meantime, the track is open but it is best suited to more experienced riders.”

    For more information, please visit the Palmerston North i-SITE or call DOC on (06) 3509700.

    Ongoing maintenance for Manawatu Gorge, SH3

    The NZ Transport Agency is advising that contractors will soon start maintenance work at the site of the 2011 Manawatu Gorge slip. The maintenance work involves clearing debris that has accumulated over time on the terraced sections of the slip.

    “As part of our work clearing the slip in 2011 and 2012, the slip site was terraced (or benched) to stabilise the material above the road. We now need to clear some of debris from these terraces to prevent it from reaching and potentially blocking the road,” Ross I’Anson, Highway Manager, NZ Transport Agency says.

    The work is planned to start on Monday 13 February, should be complete by the beginning of April, weather permitting. Site working hours will be between 6am and 6pm. Read more...