$3.4m Taranaki Crossing funding welcomed by outdoor groups

The Pouakai Crossing walk is one of New Zealand's premier one day walks.
SUPPLIED

The Pouakai Crossing walk is one of New Zealand's premier one day walks.

A $3.4million upgrade of the Taranaki Crossing to cater for an influx of visitors walking the track has been welcomed by outdoor groups in the region.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced the funding this week to help pay for more bridges, carparking, toilets, signage, interpretative panels and on-going maintenance on the popular track, previously known as the Pouakai Crossing, in Egmont National Park.

The funding is part of a $76 million national tourism infrastructure package announced last week by the Government.

New Plymouth Tramping Club president Kevin Curd welcomed extra funding for Taranaki Crossing.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

New Plymouth Tramping Club president Kevin Curd welcomed extra funding for Taranaki Crossing.

Barry said overseas visitor numbers in New Zealand would reach 4.5 million by 2022.

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Upgrading facilities along the crossing is expected to take 2-3 years.

New Plymouth Tramping Club president Kevin Curd said on-going funding is essential if more tourists were wanting to use the mountain tracks.

Curd said the crossing was one of the best walks in the country.

"It's a huge amount of money to spend on the Pouakai Crossing but is it is crucial because more and more people are coming here," he said.

Curd said carparks at North Egmont and Dawson Falls can be full by 8am.

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"Many people will text friends to say 'don't bother coming up'," he said.

"You've got to have carparks, and someone has to pay for it."

Any improvements made on the mountain were good for everyone who walks the tracks, he said.

"It's good that DOC are finally getting the money to spend to upgrade facilities on Pouakai Crossing.

"The department is grossly underfunded and this shows with some of the tracks in a very shoddy state.

"With more and more people coming here each year the department needs to be funded so visitors can enjoy walking the track."

Putting money towards the Taranaki Crossing could detract from maintenance on other tracks in the national park, he said.

The tramping club had long supported a border levy on overseas visitors leaving the country to help pay for infrastructure upgrades in national parks.

Curd said volunteers from the club already put a lot of time into maintaining huts in the park.

"Without volunteers the department would be under more pressure.

"We've got a wonderful asset on our backdoor step and in 50 years' time when the predator control programmes have taken effect and we have the birds back again it will be fantastic."

Curd said some people do not agree with attracting more visitors to the crossing.

"We have a wide range of areas on the mountain to enjoy, I don't think it matters if more are attracted to walking the crossing."

Curd said the crossing was one of the best walks in the country.

"It's got nearly everything you would want - altitude, bushwalks, views, swing bridges and huts."

New Plymouth District Council mayor Neil Holdom said the Taranaki Crossing was "well worn and in need of significant repair".

"We need to get cracking on this work as soon as possible to ensure Taranaki people and visitors alike have an epic experience on this one-day walk."

Taranaki Alpine Club president Elaine Sinton said the club was always supportive of any funding DOC received to improve tracks and facilities.

 

 

 - Taranaki Daily News

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