Kawatiri Coastal Trail – Grand Opening of Four Consecutive Sections

Kawatiri Coastal Trail - Grand Opening of Four Consecutive Sections

In February this year, we celebrated reaching the halfway mark of the Kawatiri Coastal Trail, with 22km of continuous trail completed from Westport to Ōkari Lagoon.

The opening was attended by representative project partners, including the trail construction team from Westreef.

KCT Trust Chairperson, Richard Niederer commented the milestone was a truly remarkable achievement given the challenges the organisers have had to navigate to get to this point. These included two major flood events in the town, the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 including lockdowns, staff and material shortages, as well as the ensuing rise in costs.

Photo: From left – Stu Henley Project Manager (KCT), Patrick Reedy & Nigel Williams (Westreef), Richard Niederer (Charleston-Westport Coastal Trail Trust Chairperson).

Kawatiri Trail Opening

The event was held on the domain at Cape Foulwind and was the perfect day weather wise, showing off all the area has to offer. A big thanks goes out to Kay Morgan (one of the trails biggest supporters), for lending us her beautiful home, ‘Whare Tangaroa,’ where guests enjoyed a light lunch in stunning surroundings, provided by the West Coast Pie Company.

Warren Gilbertson, Principal Regional Advisor SI – MBIE, attended the event representing Kānoa, the $9.36 million funders of the trail. Warren has biked the 22km of trail and is impressed by all it has to offer. The landscape features, heritage stories, flora and fauna, as well as the quality of the trail construction. Warren noted the Trust’s goal of becoming a Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand and commented MBIE would work with the trust in helping to achieve this goal.

Section 1 (Pūwaha)

The Trail Trust acknowledged the support of the Buller District Council, Iwi, the Department of Conservation, Pamu Farms, Harrisons Group and the many private landowners that have allowed the trail to traverse their properties. Without their generosity there would not be a trail.

Richard Niederer expressed how the Kawatiri Coastal Trail “is an exemplary example of a partnership project and shows what can be achieved when groups work together.” Richard also thanked the Westreef construction team and the outstanding quality of their work. The Trust feel lucky to have this construction team on board and it’s great to be able to say we have invested $4.4 million of the $5.2 million spent on the construction of the trail so far, back into local contractors.

Representing the Harrison Group, Larry Eade spoke of the Trust’s partnership with landowners. Larry mentioned how impressed he had been with the project management team, and also the Westreef construction team, and the care and respect they’d shown landowners when trail construction was going through private land.

Mayor Jamie Cleine commented, “we need to celebrate our achievements more often.” He went on to explain, “we are not that good at celebrating what we do well and what we have to offer here in the Buller. Getting to halfway on the trail is definitely worth celebrating, especially after the last couple of years and the challenges the District has faced.”

With a wide appeal to all age groups and abilities, the Kawatiri Coastal Trail is already attracting both locals and visitors to the area. There has been almost 80,000 trail users recorded since the opening of Section 1 (Pūwaha) in December 2020.

Construction Update - section 5 (Ōkari)

With the excellent weather over the summer months, the Westreef team have made great progress with trail construction on the western part of Section 5 (Ōkari).

The section will be 6 km long, and runs from the Ōkari Lagoon at the end of Section 4 (Tauranga) through to Virgin Flat Road.

This laid back section passes through farmland and rich mixed beech / podocarp forests dominated by rimu, and birdlife includes bellbird, tui, grey warbler, fantails, silvereye, weka, morepork, great spotted kiwi and kererū. It will also include a spectacular 40 metre long suspension bridge across the Ōkari River. The project team anticipate this section will be open for trail users in August.

Please note the trail is being constructed through private farmland and there is strictly no public access.

Text from the Kawatiri Coastal trail newsletter sent on 22/03/2023