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.
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.