River walk open in July

NEW PARK: Work on a new park on the lower Maitai River bank is on schedule to be completed in July.
NEW PARK: Work on a new park on the lower Maitai River bank is on schedule to be completed in July.

A pretty but long neglected part of Nelson is getting a $3 million makeover to help draw people to the area and link the city with the sea.

River terraces are being constructed on the banks of the Maitai River where it meets Nelson Haven near the Trafalgar Centre.

The river terraces will provide places for people to sit and contemplate the water's changing moods.

There will be steps between the terrace levels, seating and timber viewing decks with access to a floating pontoon.

The terraces are one of a number of features of the project, which aims to upgrade the Maitai Walkway between the Trafalgar St and QEII bridges.

When completed the work will form a new area called Paruroroa Park. Paruroroa is the Maori name for Nelson Haven.

Wellington-based company Wraight and Associates are the landscape architects who designed the park.

The firm has designed significant outdoor spaces in New Zealand, including Wellington's Waitangi Park.

The intent and style of Paruroroa Park will be similar to the award winning New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, although the Nelson park is much smaller.

Nelson City Council communications manager Angela Ricker says the council wants to make the area along side the river more attractive.

"It will create a better link from the city to the river, Rutherford Park, the marina and eventually the sea.

"The hope is that more people will use this area and that may in turn spurn more development along the river's edge."

The cost of the park is $3.1 million and the budget for it was allocated in the 2012-22 Long Term Plan. It is a Heart of Nelson project.

The park will see the walkway widened so it is easier for people to share. It will be between three and six metres in width and will have new lighting and furniture.

Other features will include the floating pontoon, bridge decks over the river in places and changes to improve access at the QEII underpass.

Two new parks, including an enhanced pocket park near the Elma Turner Library, will be made along the walkway.

The river terraces visible from QEII Bridge have been built using gabions, or steel baskets filled with rocks.

The gabions will contain some of the larger rocks that came from the Maitai River following the 2011 flood clean-up. Other rocks taken from the river bed will be crushed and used for roading and aggregate on the walkway.

"So they will all end up coming home."

A new footpath will link the river edge to Wildman Avenue.

Work is on schedule to finish in July.