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.