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Raetihi restores historic walkway
Ameku Road Walkway is simply an under-used ‘paper’ road and farm track. But it was once the road up to two farm homesteads. Then the homesteads fell into disuse. Briefly during the 1990s it was a public walkway. Now some Raetihi residents want to restore and reopen it.
Geoff Anderson manages the Raetihi Information Centre and is a trustee of Raetihi Promotions Charitable Trust. That’s a mouthful. But, really, it’s just a group of likeminded Raetihi residents who want to develop Raetihi and promote the wellbeing of the townsfolk.
“We do all sorts of things,” says Anderson. “We’re developing a walkway along the river at the moment. We do the wild food challenge. We do the annual Christmas parade and market day. We do the Raetihi Gutbuster down Pipiriki Road, and general promotion of the town.”
Anderson and the trust are also leading the project to reopen the old Ameku Road Track.
There are splendid views across to the Central Plateau mountains, Anderson says of the track, and that’s what visitors to the town want.
“We get a lot of requests from people who want to look at the mountains from higher up. There has been a huge increase in summer tourism since the development of the cycleways. It’s changed completely to what it was even a few years ago.”
The Ameku Road Walkway is an easy track. It was a good metalled, formed road, steep in places but not overly steep. It takes about a one hour up and one hour back. The trust plans to expand the walkway to join Pipipi Road in the future.
The Walkway used to be a road going to two of the earliest historic farms in the district. Over time the homesteads and the formed road fell into disuse. The road reopened as a public walkway for a brief time in the 1990s. Anderson says when he came to Raetihi in 1995 he could still walk part of it.
But new farm owners arrived and that meant public access closed.
Since the walkway closed a mill has expanded at the start of the track and has grown significantly. The Ruapehu District Council, which is working with Raetihi Promotions on the project, felt it was not safe to start a reopened walk there. It preferred a new entrance. So it has organised for surveying and negotiated adjacent landowners and created a new access.
“Certainly, I’d like to thank the Walking Access Commission for the help they’ve given,” says Anderson. “When I first came up with the idea the Commission came to visit. We had a meeting with the farmer and Ruapehu District Council. We’ve tried to follow its advice as best we can.”
And now the walkway has momentum. The mill owner is developing land next to the entrance which he wants to turn into a garden to commemorate the town’s Chinese settlers. The Council has paid for a carpark – that’s finished. And the government has paid for toilets and they are in place. Raetihi residents are just waiting for a survey of the walkway because the current farm track has shifted from the unformed legal road.
The Commission has granted $5,700 for this centre line survey. It has also granted $6,400 for easement costs, signage, a stile and track markers.
Anderson is hoping the survey will begin soon.
“I hope that it will be within months. And, after that, it wouldn’t be much to put in marker pegs and get the signs organised and it will be all usable from then.”
When it does open Raetihi’s many visitors will have a new attraction to showcase its spectacular mountain views.