Realising the vision of the Taranaki Crossing project took another step forward this week with the start of on-site works for the North Egmont Visitor Centre within the National Park.
The existing café within the visitor centre is now being decommissioned to enable a $2.9 million redevelopment project, a partnership involving the Department of Conservation (DOC), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa (Te Kotahitanga).
The re-development funding is coming from the project’s $13.3 million grant from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), allocated to bring to life the Taranaki Crossing. The PGF funding is provided and managed by Kānoa, MBIE’s Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit.
The Taranaki Crossing is a 41-kilometre walking experience offering a range of one-day walks between Dawson Falls/Te Rere o Kapuni, via the North Egmont Visitor Centre, over the Pouakai Range and the end of Mangorei Road. The Taranaki Crossing project is a multi-year project involving track upgrades and improved facilities along its length. It is intended to enable more people to enjoy the beauty of Taranaki Maunga and strengthen connections to its natural and cultural heritage.
Kānoa’s Senior Regional Adviser for Taranaki, Bridget Sullivan says the Taranaki Crossing is a valued place for many in the community and with the upgraded track network will continue to develop into a major drawcard for visitors to the region.
“The work to redevelop the visitor centre will ensure it is fit for the future and the role it will play in supporting visitors enjoying the Taranaki Crossing.
“Kānoa is delighted the project is being delivered with the central involvement of Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, as it means the final facility will offer visitors a richer experience during their time on Taranaki Maunga,” says Ms Sullivan.
Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Chair Liana Poutu says various options are being explored for the visitor centre, from redeveloping the existing building to constructing a new facility.
“We are planning to improve the facility in a way that will transform and enhance our visitor experiences through cultural narratives,” says Ms Poutu.
“We still have some final work to do on the design options and will share these with the community as we confirm them.”
DOC’s Hauraki-Waikato-Taranaki Regional Director Daniel Heinrich says a strong partnership approach to funding and delivery has been built around the entire Crossing project.
“We’re very proud to be working with Te Kotahitanga and MBIE as we work together to bring to this ambitious project to life, as it reflects some of the fundamental aspects of the Treaty of Waitangi partnership and is an opportunity to enhance that vital relationship.”
He says DOC will continue to operate from the site and ensure ongoing services are provided to visitors through the DOC visitor centre staff, displays, retail shop and amenities. The café will be replaced with light refreshments available for purchase at the DOC centre.