Planning a trails future for the greater Wellington region
By Chris Ward, Regional Field Advisor (Greater Wellington and Horowhenua)
Tourism Recreation and Conservation (TRC) have produced a report outlining recommendations to better market, develop, and integrate the trail network in the lower North Island, with the mission statement “Connecting our people with inspiring adventures”.
District councils south of and including Masterton on the eastern side and Kāpiti in the west teamed up with Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington Trails Trust, and the Wellington Regional Development Agency to jointly fund the report.
The funding agencies recognise that there is a great network of existing trails, but there is no single point of information on, or much integration of, the trail network as each agency currently works in isolation in their own patch.
The region has a lot of motivated community groups active in providing stewardship of many tracks. Along with the Walking Access Commission, these people have detailed local knowledge and proved valuable in assisting TRC with track information.
As a first step, existing trails have been classified according to their level of use, familiarity, accessibility, and potential to take more use.
Signature Trails: A small number of outstanding trails, prioritised by visitors and providing a focal point for regional residents.
Regional Trails: Significant trails that form the core of the trail network and provide quality outdoor experiences. Maybe used more by locals with knowledge of the area.
Local Trails: Trails that service the local community, important for health and connectivity.
The signature trails:
- Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park;
- Rimutaka Cycle Trail including Rimutaka Rail Trail and Hutt River Trail;
- Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay Escarpment Track (part of Te Araroa);
- Southern Walkway (Island Bay to Oriental Bay including Mount Victoria);
- Colonial Knob Porirua – Further development recommended;
- Skyline Track – The ridge connecting up a number of existing trails going to the South Coast;
- Five towns Trail – connecting Featherston, Martinborough, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton.
These are the early suggestions and are still subject to change. A number of regional trails have also been identified, including Belmont Regional Park, Wainuiomata Trail project, Queen Elizabeth Park, and the Kāpiti Island summit track.
The report has provided an excellent platform to work from and to get council and community commitment. It is still in draft form and does not include feedback from a survey put out to organisations and individuals involved in the consultation meetings. The Walking Access Commission will be working closely with those implementing the proposals.