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A future journey up there with NZ’s best

Opinion Piece

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a desire to assess our capacity to match it with the fantastic walkway/cycleways which are such an asset now right throughout Aotearoa — except Tairawhiti. I am so encouraged by the outcome of my recent ramble.

Essentially I walked out my front door to Tolaga Bay. It took three days. DoC had supplied me a contour map with an indication of the Old Coast Road as my guiding map.

What an awesome backyard we have! To have such an unravelling of splendour as this journey provides is a wonder on so many fronts. I have no doubt at all that with some development, the basis of my expedition would open up a quite extraordinary journey. The beauty is uniquely “the Coast”. There is nature to behold and there are a plethora of stories seemingly at every footstep.

The ever-changing vistas may not be the snowcapped alpine ranges of the south, but no other journey can compete with such a string of pristine, secluded beaches. While the views achieved may not be from great mountain-top heights of the Southern Alpine environment, they are still extraordinary.

My mindset was to envision the trip in the mentality of a visitor from Paris, or Munich or Auckland; first-timers. I have no doubt that they would love it.

We know we live somewhere special but perhaps to us the perception of the quality of our region can be diluted by its constant presence.

This whole trip has a “mood” which amplifies the best parts of the experience. The constantly changing nature of the hinterlands and excesses of tranquility are a feature.

As I suggested in my earlier article, our region has so much to offer but the magnet to compel a decision to visit could be strengthened. The Tairawhiti Coastal Journey would be a very strong offering.

Along my journey I was assessing the route as a possible walkway/cycleway. Having seen the tasks undertaken on so many of New Zealand’s other trails, our journey could be achieved relatively easily. Of course, there will be challenges. But I truly believe there is nothing insurmountable. I am certain that many of those trails now up and running so successfully throughout the country had far greater mountains to move and challenges to overcome.

My vision of success would be a trail developed in such a way as to be highly appealing to hikers and mountain-bikers. Dual-purpose trails are becoming hugely successful as there is significant growth and appeal in the bike option, with all trails attracting strong numbers. There could be horse-riding options.

Having spoken to several local hikers and bikers, I know there is a lot of interest and belief in this opportunity. If you are interested in what such a journey looks like, or have any interest at all, I am holding a meeting open to anyone interested to look closer at this. This will be in the library in the Southern Cross room at 7pm on Tuesday (May 14). Pop in and let’s talk about what our region has to offer and how we might go about making this a reality.

Andy Cranston is chairman of the community development and services committee that received the noting report updating progress on the Tairawhiti Spatial Plan 2050. Picture by Strike Photography