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Walks Project update with Cooks Beach communities

24 May 2016

Kayakers on the Purangi Estuary

Potential options for crossing the Purangi Estuary, which will be a link on the first route of our Walks project, will be discussed with the Cooks Beach community, along with other stakeholders over Queen's Birthday weekend.

"The meeting is open to the public and is an opportunity to provide an overall update on the Walks project, but also to discuss options for crossing the Purangi Estuary," says Ross Ashby, Council's Walks Project Manager.

The meeting will be at the Cooks Beach Hall 9 - 10am Saturday 4 June.

"A low-tide option for crossing the Purangi Estuary currently exists and with a general track tidy up, appropriate safety warning, directional information and signage, we believe this could provide an interim feasible "wet feet" option for walkers while further stages for a more viable "dry feet"  crossing are under consideration," says Mr Ashby.

Investigations over a "dry feet" crossing of the Estuary is being looked at in the short to medium-term through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process, which will be put out to commercial operators and entrepreneurs

"Expressions of Interest, along with any other ideas need to be submitted by 30 June 2016. Once we have received the EOI's we will form a shortlist of feasible ideas and work through the details with appropriate candidates and the community," says Mr Ashby

Submissions should be sent to kirstin.richmond@tcdc.govt.n

Initial targeted communication has started with residents immediately adjacent to where the walking route might go, which is a relatively short section of the Estuary margin overall. Council staff have also started having meetings with members of the Cooks Beach Residents and Ratepayers Association, to provide updates and gain feedback on the development of our first Walk, which when complete will run from Hot Water Beach to Whitianga

The Purangi Estuary crossing is part of the first stage of our first Walk and will link Hahei through to Cooks Beach and on to Whitianga

"Everyone has highlighted the importance and natural character of the Purangi Estuary to the community and we will take this feedback into consideration when evaluating any future development," says Mr Ashby. "We also want to acknowledge public feedback around options for crossing the Purangi Estuary and any issues this may pose for walking access across it, as well as perceived traffic concerns about the Estuary creating a dead-end," says Mr Ashby.

To remove the perceived "dead end,  there are a number of other measures being implemented to help reduce any potential traffic issues beyond the car park at Lees Road that is to be built.  These measures include a Signage and Tourism Management Strategy, clearly highlighting access to the Cathedral Cove walkway and our walk which will go from Hot Water Beach through to Whitianga and then north.


Longer Term options for Purangi Estuary Crossing

A medium to long-term vision for a boardwalk or similar option around the Estuary is currently unbudgeted and would require substantial structures to be built which would require consents from Waikato Regional Council. 

We have also been working with The Giblin Group (an independent company that provide strategic advice to councils, Māori organisations and trusts wanting to attract external funding for capital projects) to investigation potential funding options for the Purangi Crossing, as well as Stage Two of our first Walk, which would connect Hahei through to Hot Water Beach. 

A high-level options report for the Purangi Crossing can be downloaded at the right-hand side of this page.


Car parking.

An agreement has now been signed by a private landowner and Council for land on Lees Rd that will be used for a car park on the route of our first Walk.  Council endorsed the agreement at its meeting last week. The report was in public excluded as the contract for the car park is commercially sensitive.

"The car park is a major key to the project, as it will help to take congestion away from Hahei Village and promotes the link towards Whitianga," says Mr Ashby. "It will also be a user pays system, which keeps the costs to ratepayers down. Stage 1 of the car park will have a toilet facility and provides for up to 150 car parks including campervans and buses."

A number of design options are also being evaluated for the entrance to the Lees Road car park. 

"Our objective is to provide a highly visible well signposted easy turn for traffic to access the car park, thus minimising those travelling further up Lees Road.  These measures, as well as the proposed widening and dust sealing of Lees Road should help to reduce or eliminate any potential issues going forward.  Once the car park and roading improvements have been completed, parking restrictions on Lees Road will also be put in place at appropriate locations, enforceable through Council By-laws," says Mr Ashby.

For more on the Walks project and Stage One of our first planned route go to www.tcdc.govt.nz/ccwalk