I walk and run for the textures under my feet. Roger Robinson
Encouraging fitness and exercise
Story by Roger Childs, photos by Ian Linning
One of the great legacies of the Rowan councils has been the provision of facilities for sport and recreation. The Aquatic Centre and the purchase of the Howarth Block south of the Waikanae River are two major examples of farsighted moves by the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) in recent times. However the development of walkways and cycleways across the district from Paekakariki to Otaki has also been greatly appreciated by thousands of Kapiti residents. So it is good news that the present council is continuing to add to the 40+ kilometres of accessible tracks in the district.
Pathways away from the traffic
Since 2006, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of safe places to walk, run or ride a bike. These include:
~ a boardwalk linking Kotuku Park and Otaihanga
~ the revetment on the Esplanade at Raumati South, which has spectacular views (See Pam Childs’ photo alongside)
~ a new track at the south end of the Mataihuka above the railway line
~ a linking track from Waterstone to the Otaihanga rail crossing
~ a new track and bridge from Camelot to the Waikanae River bank
~ a second walking bridge over the river
~ improvements to the tracks leading to Chrystalls Bend on the north bank of the Otaki River.
Many of the new pathways and accessways have been developed with the assistance of DOC and local community groups, however KCDC can take a lot of credit. The Council has also encouraged the planting of tens of thousands of flaxes, shrubs and trees to enhance the environments close to new and improved tracks.
Recent developments: Otaihanga and Raumati
In recent weeks there have been two significant improvements to existing tracks which will encourage greater use.
Connecting with the boardwalk: In the Waikanae Estuary area, the pathway from northern Manly Street to the Otaihanga Domain, is now complete. The missing link had been a clearly defined track from the end of the excellent boardwalk to the Otaihanga Boating Club. A compacted shingle path is now in place and runs all the way to the bridge end in the Domain.
South of the airport: Walkers, runners and cyclists now have a shingle track from the southern end of the runway around to the end of Alexander Road. Going eastwards this connects with the well used Wharemauku Stream track, which continues on to Rimu Road.
Bonus tracks from the Expressway
One of the less well known benefits of the Expressway, is the provision of new pathways. There was some concern that very popular existing walkways, such as along the Waikanae Riverbanks and the Wharemauku Stream, would be seriously disrupted by the road building.
In reality, the Waikanae River tracks have remained open during the bridge building and at those points there are great views of the work in progress, plus detailed display boards showing the process and stages of the construction.
Once the expressway is complete, there will also be a walkway, cycleway and, no doubt, provision for horses, the full length of the carriageway on the seaward side. This lengthy track will be accessible from nearby streets on that western side.
Completing the jewel in the crown
Possibly the classic walkway in the area is the Mataihuka, which runs along the escarpment above the railway line. Some years ago the access from Waterfall Road was greatly improved and a lookout established, named after local environmental legend, June Rowland.
From the lookout, the track continues north for about 3km, with the high point being the site of a cairn in memory of Forest and Bird enthusiast Bill Moxon. All along this grassy walkway there are stunning views of the Kapiti Coast, the island and, on a good day, the northern South Island and the mountains of the Volcanic Plateau.
Sadly, about 500m from Paraparaumu, you have to turn around and go back the way you came! Kapiti people will be familiar with a very obvious track on the cliffs south of Paraparaumu Station. This was originally put in to remove pine trees and has subsequently been used for replanting. At present it links up with Panorama Drive.
Logically, this currently very rough pathway could continue along the slope to meet up with the north end of the existing Mataihuka. This wonderful track needs to be accessible from the Paraparaumu end so that people can go right through.
KIN will follow up with KCDC about possible plans to complete this project.