Source: Department of Conservation
Date: 02 November 2023
Work began yesterday on the Manganui Bridge, after Ngāti Ruanui representatives joined DOC and MBIE staff to bless the site on the first day of bridge construction.
DOC’s Taranaki Operations Manager Gareth Hopkins says yesterday morning’s karakia was attended by approximately 50 people, including several DOC staff, members of the Taranaki Crossing governance group, and personnel from the companies contracted to deliver the project.
“Partnership and meaningful engagement are key aspects of the Taranaki Crossing kaupapa, so we were delighted and honoured to be able to stand alongside Ngāti Ruanui and our other stakeholders this morning as this part of the project got underway.”
The $13.4 million Taranaki Crossing project is being funded through the Provincial Growth Fund administered by MBIE’s Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit. The project is funding upgrades to tracks and facilities on Taranaki Maunga to provide an improved visitor experience. The Taranaki Crossing is a partnership between Ngā Iwi o Taranaki, DOC and MBIE that has been in place from project feasibility through to delivery.
Ngati Ruanui, Deputy Tumu W’akaae, Ngapari Nui, says: “It was great to see a partnership of two years come together with the commencement of the bridge construction.
“We have been involved with the bridge design, location including key cultural considerations which will ensure an enduring legacy for all.”
“Projects like this are the blueprint for the future; working together to improve cultural connections along with enhancing the economic and tourist potential of the Maunga”, Ngapari says.
The design of the impressive Manganui Bridge structure was revealed last year, and when completed it will be 109m long, 1.2m wide and sit 50m above the Manganui Gorge.
The new bridge will connect the plateau carpark with the only ski field on the maunga, via a 30-minute walk.
Kanoa funding aims to create jobs in regions and increased work for local businesses.
Gareth says main contractor Abseil Access Ltd specialises in this type of construction, while other subcontractors – including local Taranaki firms – are fabricating components off-site.
“Several Taranaki companies will be supporting the build, providing services including helicopter flights and materials and supplies like concrete and food.
“We’re pleased to be able to support Taranaki businesses through this investment and ensure there’s work for local people.”
Many of the construction team are multidisciplined tradespeople who are also highly qualified in working at heights while working from ropes. Contractors will be using the Stratford Mountain Club Lodge as accommodation.
The bridge will be built to withstand 210km winds, and to last 100 years. It will be constructed using 850m of steel support cables, 2800m of handrail infill cables, approximately 10.5 cubic metres of concrete, with 430 clips holding down the custom-coloured deck material.
It will also have 24 in-ground rock anchors, and 9-degree inward leaning masts – some of its most striking features.
An artist commissioned by Ngāti Ruanui has designed the mast and balustrade panels to add a strong cultural representation to the bridge and emphasise the significance of Taranaki Maunga to the iwi of Taranaki.
The project has ongoing support from Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, which has welcomed this significant Taranaki Crossing project milestone.
The bridge is expected to be completed in April 2024.
Taranaki Crossing seeks to develop a high-quality visitor experience on Taranaki Maunga in Egmont National Park. The Taranaki Crossing refers to the main track network enabling visitors to travel by foot from Dawson Falls along the slopes of the maunga, across the Ahukawakawa wetland and over the Pouakai Ranges to the end of Mangorei Road. The journey can be experienced as a series of day walks, or a multi-day tramp.
The Taranaki Crossing project is being funded through a $13.4 million grant made through the Provincial Growth Fund. Additional funding has been contributed by local councils and DOC. The crossing project will see 25 km of tracks improved, creating a mix of short walks and longer tramps. It will also minimise the impact of visitors on the maunga environment.
When completed, the Taranaki Crossing will showcase a safer and world-class visitor experience that truly represents Taranaki Maunga and its people. The improvements will reduce the impact of people visiting the maunga as well as providing an enhanced visitor experience.