The construction of a new pedestrian bridge over the Ohinemuri River at Karangahake Gorge Reserve carpark will begin in January 2018.
DOC has engaged contractors to build a new pedestrian bridge over the Ohinemuri River at Karangahake Gorge Reserve carpark. The project is a collaboration with Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Tara Tokanui and Hauraki District Council.
The new bridge will replace the existing 60 m suspension bridge (with a 10-person load restriction) with a 70 m suspension bridge and unrestricted pedestrian load. The new site is just metres downstream from the current bridge. MAP Projects Ltd are commencing construction in early January 2018. It is expected to take six months to complete the job, with the new bridge open by July 2018.
Jeff Milham, DOC Tauranga-Rotorua Operations Manager, is pleased to see the project get underway.
“This is the busiest visitor site in the district and we want to ensure we can continue to provide safe and appropriate access that is sustainable into the future.”
Mr Milham acknowledges that carrying out the construction during the busiest visitor period will cause some disruption, however he says there is significant risk associated with the river flooding while foundation works are being undertaken.
“Summer is the best time to carry out these works when river levels are at their lowest.”
Visitors might see a few less car parks available during the works but access to the walking tracks will still be available via the existing bridge. DOC encourages visitors to explore alternatives to Karangahake over the summer months.
Currently the site attracts about 80,000 visitors annually and DOC expects that numbers are likely to increase by about 10,000 annually for the next few years at least. The site is one of DOC’s 50 Historic Icons, where the stories of the site are told and protected.
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The Department of Conservation has engaged contractors to build a new pedestrian bridge over Ohinemuri River at Karangahake Gorge Reserve carpark.
The project is a collaboration with Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Tara Tokanui and Hauraki District Council.
Why are we constructing a new bridge?
This project is to replace the existing 60m suspension bridge over the Ohinemuri River with a 70m unrestricted pedestrian load suspension bridge, and the removal of the existing Ohinemuri Bridge. The existing bridge was constructed in 1986 and is designed for a 10-person load restriction. It is frequently overloaded with 30+ people at one time. Replacing the current bridge, of which is undersize for the visitor numbers at site with a modern fit-for-purpose bridge will result in a quality and safe bridge crossing experience over the Ohinemuri River. Having a safe river crossing will assist with the continued viability, and enjoyment, of Karangahake Gorge. The bridge will provide long term (50 year) access to one of DOC’s top 50 Historic sites.
Where will operation be undertaken?
The existing Ohinemuri Bridge is located at the Karangahake Gorge Reserve Carpark on State Highway 2 between Auckland and Tauranga. The new site is just metres downstream from the current bridge. Reference map below.
How will the works impact visitors?
Contractors will be using the Hauraki Rail Trail from Crown Hill Rd to the bridge for machinery access. These activities are likely to occur in the early morning to avoid disruption to visitors. There may be short periods (1-2 hrs) where this section will be closed, with the detour route from tunnel clearly signed. Car parking could be reduced (minimally) during the works but access to the walking tracks will still be available via the existing bridge. Visitors will be publicly notified of where construction is taking place at the Karangahake Gorge. Alerts will be posted through DOC and Hauraki District Council channels, as well as signage on site.
The first phase of the construction is planned for January 2018. It is expected to take six months to complete, with the new bridge open by July 2018.
Why the busiest time of year?
This work has been scheduled over summer to minimise the risks associated with weather and flooding, particularly while the foundation works are being undertaken. The bridge requires replacement; there is an unavoidable inconvenience to visitors during the construction period for this.
Acknowledging mana whenua
The project will assist in maintaining a positive relationship with our Treaty partners. The bridge site holds significance for several Hauraki Iwi. Ngāti Tara Tokonui and Ngāti Tamaterā are partners in the project and are giving guidance on tikanga aspects and leading the karakia for each stage of the project. There will be a carving (likely pou) erected at the site. Ngāti Tamaterā and Ngāti Tara Tokonui have provided invaluable advice and support throughout the planning and construction phases.
The historic and archaeological significance of the Karangahake Gorge makes the area nationally significant for the conservation of our mining heritage. The stories of iwi, hapu and whanau who live here provide a connection to the long ancestry of Māori occupation of Karangahake and the use of its natural resources. Karangahake offers a window on New Zealand’s social and cultural identity, past and present. The bridge is a critical part of the Karangahake Gorge Historic Icon destination and is the primary access to the network of walks and tramping tracks that make up the many recreational and historic engagement opportunities in the northern Kaimai area.