Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council were joined by mana whenua from both districts, key partners, and contractors this morning to bless the completion of the Hamilton and Waikato sections of the Te Awa River Ride.
The completion of the final section means Hamiltonians can now safely walk, bike and scooter the entire 65km path, that began 13 years ago with a vision from Te Awa River Ride Trust, unlocking the door to the wider Waikato and Waipa regions.
Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate, spoke to the group at the bridge joining the two sections over the Mangaonua Stream.
“I was present at the very first section opening in Cambridge back in 2009 with Waikato Regional Council. So, to be here today, 13 years later, and see the full path through to completion, as the Mayor of Hamilton, is exceptionally special,” said Mayor Southgate.
“Today I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the key partnerships and people who have all worked so hard on this final section of the pathway.
“I know that all the hard work will continue to pay off, and this will be a valuable, well-used and well-loved cycling path we will all continue to cherish and enjoy for many years to come.”
Along with working closely with Te Awa River Ride Trust and Waikato District Council, Council partnered with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, who funded 51% of the project. The remaining 49% funding came from the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, managed by Kaanoa, the Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit.
Several contractors, including Gray Matter, Splice Construction and Base Civil, played a large role in building the 1.15km of new path, new boardwalk up to Geoffrey Place, and shared path and on-road improvements.
Hamilton City Council’s Capital Projects Director, Kelly Stokes said it’s been a difficult few years of construction, with contractors working through one of the most challenging river sections for a path.
“Combined with the delays and impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m really proud of the resilience the team have shown to push through and deliver this stunning new path.
“I’d also like to thank Waikato District Council, Base Civil and their excellent sub-contractor Keir Landscaping for their work delivering the sleek and elegant timber structures from the Mangaonua Stream crossing into the Waikato District,” she said.
Along with the work put in to complete the new sections of path, new gates and signage have also been installed on the existing boardwalk through Hammond Park encouraging people on bikes and scooters to ‘walk their wheels’.
The boardwalk takes users over one of Hamilton’s oldest gully systems known to be a roosting area for the native long-tailed bat (pekapeka-toa-roa).
Within this one-hectare area are more than 145 different native plant species, making this one of the city’s richest forests. It’s cultural heritage dates to the 16th century when the area became the land of the Ngaati Wairere people.
It’s also a corridor for tuuii and kuukuu (wood pigeon, also known as kereru) and occasionally koomako (bellbird) and kaakaa travelling into the city.
“These reasons and more, meant the boardwalk couldn’t be widened which is why we’re asking people to walk through this narrow 500m section. An on-road detour has been designed for those who want to stay on their bikes or scooters,” said Stokes.
Now both the Hamilton and Waikato sections are open, the focus shifts towards an event in March next year to celebrate the entire 65km Te Awa River Ride from Karapiro to Ngaaruawaahia.