Punakaiki is set to benefit from two projects designed to enhance its status as one of New Zealand’s most unique environments, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.
“As part of our Jobs for Nature programme the unique natural assets of Punakaiki and the edges of the Paparoa National Park will be restored through a project expected to employ up to 13 people per year for four years.
“This two-phase Punakaiki restoration project involves propagation, planting, and maintenance of an estimated 478,000 native trees over 153 ha on sites surrounded by and adjacent to the Paparoa National Park and Te Ara Tāiko Nature Reserve
The $3.6 million project is being led by Conservation Volunteers New Zealand with support from the Department of Conservation.
“The work will also conserve the unique and nationally significant Punungairo/Bullock Creek polje,” Kiri Allan said.
A polje is a large, flat-floored depression in a karst landscape. Bullock Creek is New Zealand’s only example, surrounded by tall cliffs and dense beech and kahikatea forest.
The other project will see the construction of a new shared walking and cycling path, linking a number of key sites in one of the West Coast’s most popular regions.
The 4.2km path is part of the broader Dolomite Point Redevelopment Project which includes building a new visitor experience and exhibition centre to replace the existing DOC facility. It will connect the southern end of town from the Punakaiki River, to Hartmount Place at the northern end of town.
The work is being funded through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) which has contributed $1.5 million toward the $1.68 million needed to build the path, with the balance funded through the Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency Walking and Cycling programme.
“This is such a special place to slow down and connect with the natural environment,” Kiri Allan said. “With the new path linking a number of key sites throughout Punakaiki, people will be able to leave their cars and enjoy a day out in nature.
“It will also benefit local residents who have had to contend with highway traffic, with roadside verges being the means of getting around on foot. We expect the path will make Punakaiki a whole lot safer and enjoyable for both pedestrians and cyclists.”
The pathway will link key visitor and recreation sites such as the Paparoa Track, the Pancake Rocks, the main town centre, Pororari River, Bullock Creek, and the Truman Track. Work on the path has started, with Waka Kotahi – NZ Transport Agency contractors marking the alignment and forming the route. It is expected the path will be completed by mid-2021.
Work on plans for a new visitor experience and exhibition centre to replace the aging DOC visitor centre is well advanced. Artist impressions of the new centre were released earlier this year