Kerikeri: How a Walkway became reality
By John Gardiner, Regional Field Advisor (Northland)
Without a doubt, the biggest buzz I get out of this job is working alongside community groups to help establish new walking opportunities within their patch.
Recently, I attended the opening of the new Te Wairere Waterfall track which begins at the Stone Store in Kerikeri and travels up the Wairoa Stream to a very impressive waterfall.
The track follows up a fully-vegetated, steep-sided valley of mixed native and exotic forest and, although the town surrounds the valley, prior to the track going in, I doubt whether many of the locals even knew of the natural treasures that lay beneath them in the valley floor. Now though, residents and visitors can enjoy walking up this picturesque stream through mature groves of tōtara, have a swim in the clear pools of Wairoa Stream and even picnic beneath the magnificent Te Wairere waterfall.
Several community groups, particularly Rotary NZ and Vision Kerikeri, led the project, but many individuals also rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to establish the track over a two-year period.
The Walking Access Commission made two modest contributions to their efforts from its Enhanced Access Fund.
What particularly impressed me as I watched the project’s evolution, was how all the expertise that was needed to develop the walk materialised from within the community. One resident bordering the river was agreeable for a walkway to travel over their land to connect up two esplanade reserves, another engineer donated his expertise to design a significant footbridge across the stream, whilst many others appeared when needed with their hand tools and machinery to get the job done.
Clearly the secret to the grand success of this project was having a leader who was tenacious, committed and a highly skilled communicator. The person I would like to acknowledge here is Rod Brown. Without Rod, I doubt whether this project would ever have seen the light of day. Congratulations to you, Rod, and congratulations to all who were involved as you have certainly provided a wonderful recreational asset in the centre of your town.