Work has started on extending the Waihi Beach forest trail network with a new connection to the dam loop trail.
The link is an extension to the Hauraki Rail Trail, meaning cyclists can ride from Kaiaua to Waihi Beach in a few years.
Waihi Beach Community Board chairperson Ross Goudie says it will be a one hour walk that will benefit the community, and give people something to do when they can’t go to the beach.
“We’re turning a crusty old dam into a feature people can walk around.”
The forest trail is separate to the trig trail and wide enough for both walkers and mountain bikers.
The new forest trail construction area will be closed off and supervised by contractors to ensure no one enters. The existing Trig Track will remain open but is only accessible via the entrance at the end of Oceanview Road.
The walk track around the reservoir will also be closed to allow access for machinery and materials during construction.
Ross says the trail will provide plenty of good views and is part of the walking and cycling strategy, which has been planned for the last eight years.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council thanks Ngāti Tara Tokanui of the Hauraki Collective, Te Whānau a Tauwhao Hapū of Ngai Te Rangi and the wider Waihi Beach community for their ongoing support.
Council also thanks the Waihi Beach Cycle Trails Charitable Trust which, with the Waihi Beach Community Board, has ensured funding for the loop completion.
A map of the trails. Supplied image.
Andy Kennedy, a member of the Waihi Beach Cycling Trails Trust, says he raised $50,000 from the lion foundation, while the community board gave $50,000 and Council will provide the last third.
He says the existing trig walk is beautiful, and on a clear day you can see the whole of the Western Bay of Plenty.
“It’s getting people out and about into one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.”
A statement from the Western Bay of Plenty website say the trig trail for walkers has proved extremely popular since it opened in 2016.
The 45-minute walk to the top of the summit offers a mix of contour, some steep, but the reward at the summit is an exceptional view over the Western Bay and offshore islands.
Andy says the track averages 144 people a day in summer, with the busiest day the 29th of December 2020 seeing 827 people through the track.
During construction the carpark on Pacific Road/ West Street will remain open but access to the trig will be via the small walking bridge to Oceanview Road.
The new forest trail connects to the trig trail but the trig trail section is not for use by bikes, only walkers. The new forest trail is for shared use. Bike riders must make the return trip via the forest trail only.
Construction is expected to take three weeks.