Te Ara o Hei Walkway stepping ahead Completion of the Te Ara o Hei Walkway is humming back into action – an exciting development on a project that could ultimately become a coastal walkway spanning from Hahei to Cathedral Cove and on to the Purangi River. In March 2020, the Mercury Bay Community Board recommended Council approve continuation of the Purangi to Cathedral Cove section of the walkway, involving a path from Stella Evered Memorial Park to the carpark at Lees Rd, which also links up to Cathedral Cove. The total cost of this new path is $450,000 and it will be funded from the NZ Lotteries Significant Grant Fund. This money needs to be used by September 2020. Te Ara o Hei is being built in stages and completion has been on hold until matters dealing with visitor management infrastructure in Hahei and aspects related to private land were resolved. This is now complete. Approval to progress this stage will be finalised at the next meeting of Council on 24 March 2020. "Walks are a huge and growing part of recreational tourism around our district, with social and economic benefits for our communities, and we anticipate the finished Te Ara o Hei walkway will be well-used and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike," says our Council’s Economic Development and Communications Group Manager Laurna White. Further detail of the alignment of the proposed walkway can be found in the report (see page 43) presented to the Mercury Bay Community Board here Update - July 2019 On July 17, 2019, the Mercury Bay Community Board was asked whether it wanted to progress completion of the next stage of the Te Ara o Hei Walkway from Hahei/Cathedral Cove to Ferry Landing. Some sections of the proposed walk had been on hold for other tourism infrastructure projects in Hahei and matters related to private land. The Mercury Bay Business Association has written a letter to the Board, asking that completion of the walkway from Whitianga to Cathedral Cove/Hahei be progressed as a priority. Council still has $500,000 from a $1million Lotteries Significant Grant Fund still available on completion of a total of 10km of track and construction of the section from Stella Evered to the private Lees Rd car park section would reach this trigger, but the money needs to be used by September 2020. The Board recommended Council approve, in principle, the continuation of the Purangi to Cathedral Cove/Hahei walkway section from Stella Evered Memorial Park to the Lees Rd car park and ask for a detailed report for final consideration. The concept In 2012 our Council commissioned an independent report investigating the viability and economic impact of a walkway from Hot Water Beach to Cathedral Cove and on to the Purangi River. This was undertaken by two of the country's top tourism marketing specialists from Miles Marketing Destinations and TRC Tourism NZ. Their summary statement predicts 55,000 visitors generating up to $18M by the third year of operation. The report also covers the impact of parking, shuttles, business opportunities and the health and social benefits and trends of short and medium day walks. The route Te Ara O Hei has been built in stages. Stage 1A and 1B is approximately 10km in length between the iconic "Blowhole," at Te Pupuha Recreation Reserve at Hahei through to the Purangi Estuary at Cooks Beach. It takes in Public Conservation Land (DOC), Council reserve and Stella Evered Reserve Land.