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Indicative design sketch of the proposed bridge. Photo: ABSEIL ACCESS

Pauanui to Tairua trail planned

A 120-metre long suspension bridge over the Tairua River is planned as part of a Hikuai District Trust project to connect Tairua and Pauanui.

The trust said the walking and cycle bridge will cross the river near the old Tanner Sawmill and the trail will continue for 2km before it meets at State Highway 25 for 2-3km before continuing to Tairua on a boardwalk around the Tairua Harbour.

The trust said the bridge would provide an extension to the existing 6.4km Tairua River Trail between Pauanui and Hikuai, providing health, safety, conservation and economic benefits to both towns. 

Chair Derrick Adams said the new trail and bridge would be a “fantastic asset” to the area and a link to the Coromandel trail network.

“We’re bringing communities closer together, which is the main goal for us,” he said.

“The existing trail from Pauanui is already popular throughout the year and attracts tens of thousands of users over summer, and by connecting it all the way to Tairua, we’re opening up a scenic and accessible route to everyone.”

Derrick said 15,000 people used the existing trail over the Christmas period last year and around 2000 use it each month.

The trust had spent the past year consulting its idea with landowners, Thames-Coromandel District Council, the Tairua-Pauanui Community Board, Department of Conservation, iwi, Waka Kotahi, Waikato Regional Council, Heritage NZ, and Walking Access NZ, he said.

“We eventually concluded that it was actually going to be extremely difficult or almost impossible to continue on the alignment on the southern bank of the river and we needed to find an alternative way to proceed to Tairua,” he said.

“Hence we decided to explore the option of a bridge from where the trail currently finishes and then proceed from there into Tairua.

“It became apparent it was a good idea because it shortened the trail, it turns it into a 15km travel distance to Tairua – which is probably more doable for a family outing, and I think the bridge would be a fantastic asset and a bit of a feature itself on the trail.”

Derrick said the trust would also seek public feedback through its website and would hold a stall at the Pauanui Summer Series Market Day on January 3 for more information. 

 “They have an option to make comments and that would be taken into account in our resource consent application,” he said.

“At the moment we’re compiling the resource consent application, which we will be seeking consents, and we’ll put that submission in probably the first quarter of next year.

“That would need to be assessed by the Waikato Regional Council and hopefully we’ll secure a consent for the full alignment into Tairua.”

Derrick said the resource consent application would cost around $200,000 which would be paid by the trust.

“Once we get the consents, we will start a fundraising campaign and we will be looking to solicit input from the public as well as seek corporate and philanthropic donations and start construction,” he said.

Derrick said the trust planned to complete the trail within the next few years and was expected to cost between $5-6 million.

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