Taranaki Crossing progresses as construction begins on Manganui Bridge
Published: 3 November, 2023
On Wednesday, 1 November Ngāti Ruanui representatives joined Kānoa and Department of Conservation (DOC) staff on Taranaki Maunga to bless the site of Manganui Bridge on the first day of construction.
The karakia was also attended by members of the Taranaki Crossing governance group, and people from the companies contracted to deliver the project.
The Manganui Bridge will span a gorge currently at risk of avalanches, yet used by hikers and skiiers throughout the year. The bridge will enable safe passage for visitors to that part of the maunga.
It is one of several new facilities being developed to increase visitor safety and enjoyment of Te Papakura o Taranaki (Egmont National Park). An important part of the project is using the upgrades to provide visibility and narrative of Taranaki tangata whenua and their relationship to their ancestral mountain.
The Manganui Bridge is part of the $13.4 million Taranaki Crossing project which is being funded through the Provincial Growth Fund administered by Kānoa. Additional funding has been contributed by local councils and DOC. The physical works for the project got underway in 2020.
The Taranaki Crossing is a true iwi-crown partnership between Ngā Iwi o Taranaki, Kānoa and DOC that has been in place from project feasibility through to delivery.
Bridget Sullivan, Kānoa’s Principal Advisor for Taranaki attended the ceremony and shared the enthusiasm of the group, “It’s not just about safety, it’s about creating jobs and improving access, shared experience and connection to Taranaki Maunga for all people.”
In relation to the design of the bridge, Ngāti Ruanui, Deputy Tumu W’akaae, Ngapari Nui, says: “It was great to see a partnership of two years come together with the commencement of the bridge construction.”
“We have been involved with the bridge design, location including key cultural considerations which will ensure an enduring legacy for all.”
“Projects like this are the blueprint for the future; working together to improve cultural connections along with enhancing the economic and tourist potential of the Maunga”, Ngapari says.
Creation of jobs
Kānoa funding aims to create jobs in regions and increased work for local businesses.
The main contractor, Abseil Access Ltd, specialises in this type of construction, while other subcontractors—including local Taranaki firms—are fabricating components off-site.
Several Taranaki companies will be supporting the build, providing services including helicopter flights, materials and supplies like concrete and food.
Many of the construction team are multidisciplined tradespeople who are also highly qualified in working at heights while working from ropes.
An artist commissioned by Ngāti Ruanui has designed the mast and balustrade panels to add a strong cultural representation to the bridge and emphasise the significance of the maunga to Taranaki iwi.
A world class visitor experience for Taranaki
Taranaki Crossing seeks to develop a high-quality visitor experience on Taranaki Maunga in Egmont National Park. The Taranaki Crossing refers to the main track network enabling visitors to travel by foot from Dawson Falls along the slopes of the maunga, across the Ahukawakawa wetland and over the Pouakai Ranges to the end of Mangorei Road. The journey can be experienced as a series of day walks, or a multi-day tramp.
The crossing project will see 25 kilometres of tracks improved, creating a mix of short walks and longer tramps. It will also minimise the impact of visitors on the maunga environment.
Other plans include the upgrade to Pouakai Hutt and the Ahukawakawa swamp boardwalk. There are also plans to replace the visitor centre Te Riri o Kapuni on the far side of the crossing.
When completed, the Taranaki Crossing will showcase a safer and world-class visitor experience that truly represents Taranaki Maunga and its people. The improvements will reduce the impact of people visiting the maunga as well as providing an enhanced visitor experience.
An impressive build
The Manganui Bridge structure will be 109 metres long, 1.2 metres wide and sit 50 metres above the Manganui Gorge. The new bridge will connect the plateau carpark with the only ski field on the maunga, via a 30-minute walk. The bridge is expected to be completed in April 2024.
The bridge will be built to withstand 210 kilometre winds, and to last 100 years. It will be constructed using 850 metres of steel support cables, 2800 metres of handrail infill cables, approximately 10.5 cubic metres of concrete, with 430 clips holding down the custom-coloured deck material.