Coastal Walkway extension from Bell Block to Waitara proposed
A possible extension of New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway north to Waitara has been proposed but whether it sticks to the coast or heads inland will be the big question.
The New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) is considering extending the path a further seven kilometres, with two options put forward.
One would head inland, possibly through newly rezoned residential land in Bell Block, but side paths would be constructed along streams down to the coast.
The second but more difficult option is to continue along the coast.
"We could create the walkway beside the sea but we would have to factor in coastal erosion, protecting numerous historical sites and consider airport security," councillor Mike Merrick said.
Clifton Community Board member Ken Bedford said the extension was "a very, very good idea".
"It would be a logical thing to extend it right the way out. I think if it can be done, along the coast is the more picturesque way."
More people are using walkways for health reasons, he said.
"It's amazing the amount of people that are using the walkway that they put in at Waitara here along the top of the stop bank."
The Coastal Walkway is currently 12.7km long and runs from Pioneer Park at Port Taranaki to the eastern end of Bell Block Beach, taking in the Wind Wand and crossing the award-winning Te Rewa Rewa Bridge along the way.
Depending on the route selected, the proposed extension could increase the walkway to about 20km.
The area it would have to go through has a rich history as the rohe (territory) of the Puketapu hapu and is believed to be the first area settled by Maori on the district's coast.
Councillor Colin Johnston said extending the walkway would bring visitors to Waitara's West Beach and Marine Park and link to the Waitara River Walkway.
"It would connect Waitara to the proposed Taranaki Traverse route, up the Waiwhakaiho River to Egmont National Park."
Councillor Marie Pearce said Waitara residents could cycle an eco-friendly and safe route to work in the city.
The proposal is open for public comment through the council's proposed 10 Focus Areas discussion. The public are asked to share their thoughts on the proposal by filling in a survey form at newplymouthnz.com/Top10.