Move over Tongariro – there’s a new volcanic crossing in town.
The $19.3 million Taranaki Crossing Project has been given the green light and is set to open in December 2022.
Development work will start immediately and groundwork is scheduled to begin in February 2020.
“We agreed that we wouldn’t start any groundwork before summer this year, so there will be less impact on people’s experiences up there,” DOC regional visitor planning manager Tinaka Mearns said.
The crossing will upgrade and expand an existing 30km of tracks to create a walk from Dawson Falls on the southeastern side of the park to Mangorei Road at the base of the Pouakāi Ranges on the northern side.
Mearns said the project design will provide a range of experiences, including short day walks and a multi-day walk – all built to a day walk standard.
The popular Pouakāi Hut is also set to receive an upgrade, from 16 bunks to 20, as will the North Egmont Visitor Centre.
Mearns said the crossing provides impressive views of the Taranaki region looking towards the coast, as well as stunning views of Mt Taranaki and 360-degree views of the Pouakāi Ranges.
Ramped up predator control by the Taranaki Maunga project has rejuvenated native species in the area, Mearns said, and walkers may see whio and brown kiwi, amongst other endangered fauna.
“It’s early days yet, but there’s also aspirational plans to reintroduce the North Island robin, not spotted there since the early 1900s,” she said.
The project is receiving $13.3m from the Provincial Growth Fund, and additional funding from DOC, Taranaki Regional Council, New Plymouth
District Council and New Zealand Transport Agency.
It’s expected to create 20-30 jobs during the construction process, and 12 long term jobs once completed.
Projections for the project suggest it will increase visitor numbers by 35,000-40,000 by 2025.