The new walking track in the Manawatu Gorge has opened with positive feedback from its early users.
The 4.1-kilometre loop track in the gorge was opened yesterday by Department of Conservation staff.
The new route runs off to the west of the Manawatu Gorge track, rejoining it about 2km later near the site of the slip that closed State Highway 3 for more than a year.
While it has been open only a day, the new Tawa Track had been used already this month by people who climbed over or around barriers at either end.
DOC ranger Duncan Toogood said contractors working on the track in the past week had reported positive feedback from those who had passed them on the track.
The early users were a bit more sheepish around DOC staff, Mr Toogood said.
"When they see the DOC uniform they look really guilty and apologetic."
There is no need for that now, although the new lookout over the site of the slip is not yet open to the public.
Mr Toogood said it was hoped the two pieces of track could be opened at the same time, though the delay gave DOC more time to think of a name for the lookout.
The working title at present is The Big Slip Lookout but DOC is looking for ideas from the community.
The loop track also features a lookout which, unlike those on the Manawatu Gorge track, looks out from the gorge.
The lookout offers views across the Manawatu including Palmerston North, Feilding and Ashhurst, with Bulls in the distance.
Mr Toogood said that on a clear day Kapiti Island was visible and he expected Mt Taranaki would be too.
The loop was best done counter-clockwise, he said, using the new section first. "There are fewer steps and a slightly easier gradient going up. That certainly seems to be how people are using it."
Suggestions for a name for the slip lookout can be emailed to email@example.com.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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