Source: Department of Conservation
Date: 11 April 2022
Naylor Love Canterbury has been contracted to lead construction activity, says DOC project manager Phil Rossiter.
“It’s great to be able to make this announcement after 18 months of intensive planning, design development, and stakeholder consultation,” he says.
The funding for the $26 million project is principally through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.
The anchor element of the project is an iconic new Experience Centre building which will house DOC’s Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre and other facilities.
The work includes traffic and pedestrian safety improvements, finishing touches to the northern carpark and an off-road pathway to complete the shared pedestrian and cycle route which now connects the length of Punakaiki.
A key thrust of the project is the re-establishment of a cultural footprint for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae who will own and operate the new Experience Centre.
The current DOC visitor centre will continue to operate as it does now while construction work is done.
The existing visitor toilets at the site will be demolished to make way for the new Experience Centre building. Temporary toilets will be erected beside the current DOC visitor centre closer to State Highway 6.
The southern carpark will close in May and will operate as a secure work site for construction personnel.
The works are scheduled to be completed in October 2023.
“The unprecedented cost increases, which have hit hard across the construction sector, mean that a staged approach will be required for the project”, says Phil Rossiter.
“We’re delighted to be making an immediate start with the core elements of the project and look forward to tackling the remaining elements at the earliest opportunity.”
The second stage of works will include a visitor exhibition space connected to the Experience Centre, redevelopment of the southern carpark, a short nature walk and lookout at the rear of the site, additional pathways and burying of overhead power cables.
Phil Rossiter says work has started to secure additional funding while the first stage progresses.
Punakaiki is the gateway to the Paparoa National Park. It is a key anchor for West Coast tourism.
In 2008, 213,000 people visited the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. This increased to 511,000 in 2018, placing significant and unsustainable pressures on the dated facilities.
The investment by the government in this site recognises its importance to the West Coast visitor economy.
A wide range of other interested stakeholders have been involved in the planning including the local community, government, industry and conservation groups.
The project has achieved two milestones already. The first was a 4.2 km-long pedestrian and cycle path traversing the length of Punakaiki, with the second the redevelopment of the northern carpark.
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