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14/01/2019 12:00pm

Now summer is here, work on the Hauraki Rail Trail is heating up. 

Hauraki Rail Trail Trust General Manager Diane Drummond says two major extensions to the trail, as well as repairs following storm damage on 5 January last year, will be kicked into gear while the sun is shining over the next few months.

 On the trail to Hobbiton

On 8 January, track construction began on the Te Aroha to Matamata leg of the trail, following a blessing by Kaumatua Mokoroa Gillett.

Drummond says the diggers parked out on site were a most welcome sight.

“Enquiries on when the new route will be rideable have been high, with visitors lining up to be among the first to experience the new trail, so it’s exciting to have this underway,” she said.

“However, there is still a lot of work to be done before people will be able to experience this section of the trail.”

Hedge removal and fence construction will continue over the next few months and six bridges will be installed in various locations. Landscaping and signage will also begin appearing later this year, ahead of the official opening in the late stages of 2019.

Kaiaua link rolls closer 

At the other end of the trail, construction of the 10km stretch linking Kaiaua township to Pūkorokoro Miranda has rolled one step closer with the completion of preliminary plans for a parking area and toilet facilities for the trail terminus. Around 2kms of the Pūkorokoro Miranda to Kopu section of the trail, that was washed out in last year’s 5 January storm, will be repaired at the same time. More community feedback on the proposed designs will be sought over the next few months.

Boost for businesses

Drummond says the creation of the Hauraki Rail Trail has been a huge boost for businesses in the Hauraki and Waikato regions and the Hauraki Rail Trail Trust has recently engaged with social media guru Cass Esposito, to increase traffic to the Hauraki Rail Trail website. 

“This is increasing exposure to business partners and increasing visitor nights from our major markets. Numbers are already up across the network with some businesses reporting 50 per cent growth on this time last year.”

Fresh air adventures galore

She says once the two new sections of the Rail Trail are complete, users will have even more options for fresh-air adventures and sight-seeing.

“You’ll be able to take in the Shorebird Coast, go shopping in Thames, be stunned by the scenery in the Karangahake Gorge, or visit Hobbiton – just whatever spins your wheels. The trail has always been good, but this is going to be really great.”