Regional park set to finally open

An Auckland regional park that has been closed to the public since it was bought by the council in 2004 will finally open to the public next year.

Waitawa, 188 hectares of land in the southeast of Auckland near Clevedon and Kawakawa Bay, was bought by the former Auckland Regional Council eight years ago.

Since then Auckland Council has been unable to develop the land because of a lease held by Orica Mining Services, which manufactures explosive materials for the construction sector. However, the lease ends in July.

The agenda for tomorrow's Parks, Recreation and Heritage forum shows the park, when opened, will be used for a range of activities including mountain biking and horse riding.

Over the next five years a number of improvements will be made including road upgrades, improving the wharf and developing a vehicle camp ground with car parks and toilets.

A house within the park will be renovated for accommodation purposes and there are also plans for an outdoor education centre. The latter is likely to be a marine education and recreation centre aimed at educating South Auckland children. A horse riding hub will also be created from former storage shelters.

It is estimated 20,000 people will visit the park annually in the early stages, with that number increasing to 100,000 once it becomes more established.

"It provides for activities not readily available at other parks and in doing so takes pressure off some of those parks. It is readily accessible by water and has a range of land and water based activities," the agenda states.

The council aims to complete the major project within the next two years.

Some work is already underway - at the start of this year about 28 hectares of pine forest was harvested to make way for tracks within the park.

Auckland Now