Omanawa Falls Power Station Reserve is one step closer to a proposed upgrade that would enable public access.
The reserve, which is owned by Tauranga City Council, has always been closed to the public after several health and safety risks.
In spite of the ‘no entry' and ‘warning' signs, people continue to access the site, often leading to injury.
In March 2013, a 17-year-old girl fell and received pelvic injuries. In April 2013, a 20-year-old woman received head injuries after falling.
A 38-year-old father received serious back and shoulder injuries and his 12-year-old son received serious leg injuries in January 2015.
A 36-year-old French tourist had to be rescued after falling 10m off a cliff in October 2016, and in February this year another person was rescued after being injured in a fall.
In October, Council's Economic Development and Investment Committee discussed the possiblitly of new tracks and stairs.
They recommended that an upgrade of the reserve be funded through a mix of the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
MBIE has now committed $1 million towards making the reserve a safe destination for locals and visitors, with the total cost of the improvements estimated at $2.7 million.
“The next step is for Council to decide on whether the remaining $1.7 million should be included in the draft Long Term Plan. Then the plan will go to consultation,” says Parks and Recreation manager Mark Smith.
“If it does make it into the Long Term Plan, this hidden gem could be open by summer 2019.”
The proposed project includes:
• safety fencing
• design and construction of a staircase and landing structure that provides access to the bottom of the falls
• a boardwalk and track at the base of the falls
• replacement of the power station viewing platform
• land purchase and construction of a car parking area
• two new toilet facilities
• signage, park furniture and an access gate.