Source: Department of Conservation
Date: 02 August 2021
The work is part of the broader Dolomite Point Redevelopment Project that will upgrade and modernise visitor facilities and visitor experience elements at the popular site.
The work, funded by the government’s regional economic development unit, Kānoa – REDIU, and being led by DOC, is an important step to establish improved parking facilities at the site ahead of the main site redevelopment work that is scheduled to commence late this year.
Project Manager Phil Rossiter says the revamp of the northern car park will increase the available parking area, better cater for the range and proportion of vehicle types that visit the site, provide off-highway turning for buses, enable electric vehicle charging capability, and provide safer transit for pedestrians accessing the car park.
“It’s planned to complete the work by November this year so the car park is available for the next visitor summer season,” Rossiter said.
DOC has contracted local firm Westroads to carry out the work. The northern car park will be closed while the work is taking place but the southern car park will remain open.
Before the work started, DOC staff worked with Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, Barrytown School students, community volunteers and Tāiko Festival attendees in early May to retrieve young nīkau palm trees from the redevelopment site.
“It was great to have such strong community support with the nīkau recovery exercise, with more than 500 nīkau palms being hand-collected and potted up for temporary holding and subsequent revegetation work at the site and other nearby localities,” said Rossiter.
The northern carpark redevelopment marks the second construction milestone for the Dolomite Point Redevelopment Project, with the project’s first construction milestone involving a 4.2 km-long pedestrian and cycle path traversing the length of Punakaiki, being substantially advanced.
“For those that have seen the various attempts over the last 15 years to get this project off the ground, this is a very important milestone.” said Rossiter. “The northern carpark redevelopment is a pre-cursor and lead-in to the main construction phase of the project that will commence by the end of this year and signifies that the project really is happening.”
An event was held on Saturday 31 July to celebrate the start of site work.
Punakaiki is a key anchor for West Coast tourism and has become an iconic and popular short-stop visitor destination on the back of the ‘Pancake Rocks’ and associated blowholes. The investment by the Government in this site recognises its importance to West Coast visitor economy.
The work required includes the final design for the visitor experience centre, pedestrian crossing, traffic management and calming measures, parking, pedestrian and cycle paths and walkways, a pedestrian promenade, toilet facilities and overall landscaping.
In 2008, 213,000 people visited the Pancake Rocks. This increased to 511,000 in 2018, placing significant and unsustainable pressures on the dated facilities.
There is a wide range of other interested stakeholders including the local community, Government, industry and conservation groups.
Other agencies and land tenures involved in the redevelopment include:
- Waka Kotahi (New Zealand Transport Agency) – collaboration in relation to creation of pedestrian/cycle linkages, state highway pedestrian crossing solution and traffic calming measures
- Buller District Council – close collaboration in relation to integration of the Greater Punakaiki Master Plan (GPMP) and Dolomite Point Redevelopment Project and community objectives.