New trail will connect Tairua/Pauanui communities and create stunning one-day ride
Written by John Grant on November 23, 2022
Exciting news has been released this morning about a new walking cycling track and bridge that will connect Tairua and Pauanui. A number of groups have come together to formalise a proposal for a new crossing linking Tairua and Pauanui with a 15km trail.
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.
Photo Credits: Abseil Access for the bridge sketches and Paul Schrader for the trail photos
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.