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...

Manawatu Gorge Track damage

A section of the Manawatu Gorge Track is currently closed. A large, impassable slip has fallen near the eastern end and taken out a bridge. This means people cannot currently complete the full 10km track traversing the gorge. Signage and barriers are in place.

It is still possible to complete a longer one-way walk (approximately 7.5km) by entering or exiting at the Upper Gorge Bridge rather than the Ballance car park.

Upper Gorge Bridge Carpark shown below:

 

Please note that car parking at the Upper Gorge Bridge is limited. People should also be made aware that the car park is on the opposite side of the road to the track entrance, but an underpass allows people to get across safely.

Both of the shorter loop tracks, Tawa Loop and the Gorge Loop Track at either end of the reserve are still accessible.

We are currently assessing the best options for re-building or re-routing the track with an engineer. We will provide an update in due course.


UPDATE JAN 2017: A contractor has being engaged to do the Gorge re-route where the walking track slip is. The re-route will take the track up onto the ridge above the slip, it will then join back up with the existing track. The contractor will begin work on 30 January (depending on weather conditions) with an expected opening early March.


In the meantime, it would be great if you could let people know.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Department of Conservation’s Manawatu office on 06-3509700.