A plan to develop vehicle access to Te Muri Regional Park has been put forward by Auckland Council, as it prepares to open the park to the public.
Council released a draft park management plan for consultation last month and an open day will be held at the park on Saturday February 20, from 10.30am to 2pm.
The plans involve building three carparks and toilet blocks, and a major upgrade to the Hungry Creek Road and State Highway One intersection, near Puhoi. Developing walkways and protecting the archeological and ecological features of the park is cited as a priority.
The carparks and toilet blocks would be built at the park entrance on Hungry Creek Road, near the beach at Te Muri and on Mahurangi Regional Park, near Te Muri stream (see map).
Work on the intersection will require funding from Auckland Transport and NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), and Council hopes it will be completed in the next five years.
Council purchased the 382ha park, between Wenderholm and Mahurangi regional parks, in 2010 and it has been leased as farmland. Public access has been restricted to a strip of coastline and a small campground, accessed by a stream crossing from Mahurangi Regional Park.
Mahurangi Action has been campaigning to establish a coastal trail from Wenderholm to Mahurangi Regional Park via Te Muri and group secretary Cimino Cole says the draft plan is “disappointing”.
Council has made no commitment to developing the walkway, only saying the option could be investigated.
But, Mr Cole says he is optimistic the trail will be prominent in the final plan, as it will be one of the quickest and cheapest ways to open the park to the public – developing vehicle access to the park is expected to cost millions.
“It is highly likely the plan will be amended so that the coastal trail is the first cab of the rank,” Mr Cole says. “The only thing standing in the way is gaining a resource consent.”
Although, ideally, the park would be closed to vehicles, he says.
“The place would lose its magic, which comes from its splendid sense of isolation.”
During the first phase of consultation last year, 88 of the 139 submissions supported the Mahurangi Action proposal. The group is now trying to mobilise people to submit on the draft plan.
An independent hearings commissioner will hold hearings in April/May before making recommendations to Council’s Parks, Recreation and Sport Committee, who will make the final decision in May/June.
The park is home to significant archeological sites, including a pa site, burial ground and middens, and has a range of ecosystems including kauri forest and threatened plant species.
Council plans to fence off native bush, wetlands and archaeological sites, develop walking/cycling trails and upgrade the campground, while continuing farming on the land. Two cottages could be rented out as holiday baches.
Signs with information on the Maori and European history of the park could also be installed. The land has a long association with Ngati Manuhiri, Te Kawerau a Maki and Ngati Whatua, and was the site of “multiple inter-tribal events, battles and marriages dating back to the mid-1600s”, the Council plan says.
It has been farmed since the 1820s and was owned by the Schishka family from 1885 to 2010.
Consultation closes March 18.