Loop track in Walks project now open. 21 October 2016 A 1.1 km loop track, which is part of our Walks project, is now open to the public The newly built track branches off the existing Cathedral Cove Walk, and is a loop return, with a viewing platform about half-way down the track. The viewing platform is the centrepiece in the walk, which provides spectacular views down to McHann's Bay and across the wider Mercury Bay. Directional signs have been put in place and an early morning blessing was done by Joe Davis from Ngati Hei acknowledging that the area of land the track sits on (which is under Ngati Hei's kaitiakitanga), is now open to the public. Meanwhile Ngati Hei have confirmed the official name for the overall route, when it is fully complete, will be "Te Ara O Hei," which means "The Path of Hei." This references Hei, their first ancestor who came to New Zealand on the Te Arawa canoe and settled at Hahei. Ultimately the Walks route will link Hot Water Beach, through to Cathedral Cove and onto the Purangi River, Cooks Beach and over to Whitianga. The route is being developed in stages with our focus right now on Stage One - connecting The Blowhole south of Hahei through to Whitianga. In other Walks project news. Hahei Entrance car park and ride – The consent has been issued and construction dates are now being confirmed. This car park will immediately address the issue short-term around traffic over peak summer. A section of Council land beside the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Pa Rd will be formalised as a car park and there will be room for around 200 car parks, along with space for camper vans. Lees Rd car park. Work continues on resource consenting documentation with the aim still to notify the consent late November assuming all the documentation and consultation is completed in time. A decision has also been made to double the notification period to give people plenty of time to have their say. The first draft of the Consent Application and AEE (Assessment of Environmental Effects) has been drafted and is under internal review. All going well we hope to meet with stakeholders early to mid-November to discuss the draft application prior to lodgement. Purangi Crossing – We called for Expressions of Interest on potential options for crossing the Purangi and we are now working with the preferred EOI operator to provide their formal proposal . Once we have received the proposal we will be in a position to inform communities and those living around the Purangi about the proposed crossing in more detail. Regardless the service is not required to be in operation until next summer when the walks to the Purangi should be completed. Mercury Bay South Draft Parking Strategy – A meeting was held with an external peer review group on 23rd of September to discuss the practicalities and details of the draft Parking Strategy. This review group included Mercury Bay Area Manager Allan Tiplady, Community Board members as well as experts in the tourist industry. A number of recommendations have been proposed, which will be considered when the draft is reviewed following feedback closing on 31 October. Council staff met with the Hahei Business Association a fortnight ago to go through the draft parking strategy and an overall discussion on the walks progress, which was a favourable meeting. Following a request from the Hahei Stakeholders Group we have extended the time for feedback to 31 October 2016.