28 February 2019
Work begins on Long Mile Road as part of Whakarewarewa Forest development
Work to upgrade Long Mile Road began today as part of the Whakarewarewa Forest development which includes improved facilities in the Tokorangi Forest (Redwoods) and a new forest hub off Tarawera Road.
The development is a collaborative project between Rotorua Lakes Council, Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao, and CNI Iwi Holdings.
Council is managing an investment of $14.5 million to enhance the forest amenity and improve the experience for all users. Council allocated $7.5 million to the project in its 2018 – 2028 Long-term Plan with $7 million to be contributed by Central Government from its Provincial Growth Fund. The project will be completed over the next three years.
Council economic development portfolio lead, Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson says it’s great to see work beginning to lift the popular recreational area.
“As well as enhancing this much-loved recreational area for locals, this is a transformational project which will bring economic benefit by providing the foundations for future private investment,” Cr Donaldson says.
“While Council is taking a leadership role, it’s very much a partnership, in line with the key philosophy behind our 2030 vision – working together towards shared outcomes to benefit the whole district.”
The first stage of the forest project which began today involves infrastructure upgrades at Long Mile Road. Local company, Campbell Infrastructure Ltd, has been contracted to complete this work which will include formalising footpaths and shared paths (to improve safety), car and bus parking, upgrading stormwater management, kerbs and channels, and improving the connection to Scion.
The work will be completed in stages, beginning at the Tarawera Road entrance to Long Mile Road and then down towards Scion during the course of the year. For the duration of the work, the contractor’s site office will occupy the existing car parks at the corner of Long Mile Road and Tarawera Road.
Rotorua Lakes Council’s Senior Project Manager for the Whakarewarewa Forest development, Will Bamford, explains that Long Mile Road will remain accessible throughout the upgrade and disruption will be kept to a minimum.
“Whakarewarewa and Tokorangi Forests are popular destinations for locals and visitors, and Long Mile Road is a well-used thoroughfare. Throughout the planning of the upgrade we’ve been conscious of the need to ensure disruption is minimised and access is maintained.”
The aim is to keep both lanes of Long Mile Road open during most of the work but at times there may be a need to reduce access to one lane.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and ask that people remain patient throughout this time,” Mr Bamford says.
The first stage of the upgrade will begin at Tarawera Road and will involve widening the entrance to Long Mile Road. Safety will be improved by providing dedicated turning bays for vehicles coming in and out of this busy intersection.
It will also include introducing a three metre wide shared pathway which will eventually extend from the entrance of Long Mile Road to the Visitor Centre, with a two metre wide pathway then extending from the Visitor Centre to the end of Long Mile Road. This will provide a safe and user-friendly pathway for pedestrians, runners, cyclists and other wheeled devices.
To keep up to date with progress at Long Mile Road and other forest developments visit rotorualakescouncil.nz/forestdevelopment.
Hear more from Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson in this video.
*Featured image - Site induction gets underway with (from left) Alister Campbell, Sanne van der Vliet (contractors, Campbell Infrastructure Ltd), Dominic ODonnell (graduate engineer, Opus WPS Ltd), Will Bamford (project manager, RLC).
What else is happening as part of the Whakarewarewa Forest development?
Tarawera Road Forest Hub
Establishment of another Forest Hub entrance including toilet and shower facilities, a 400 vehicle carpark, and event spaces.
Forest Loop Cycleway
The creation of a forest loop cycleway which will become one of the New Zealand Cycle Trail’s Great Rides. In the future there will also be a cycleway connecting the forest hub to the city.
New Visitor Centre and play space
Replacement of the current Visitor Centre with a purpose-built centre designed to welcome more than half a million visitors each year.
The development of a cultural design overlay to encompass the entire project. This will highlight the cultural identity of the forest and create a unique sense of place.
How was the project selected?
The opportunity to kick-start this project arose through the development of Central Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. Last year, with support from the landowners and mana whenua, Council took the opportunity to apply for the fund by selecting projects that were ready to be worked on and matched the pūtea (funding) criteria. The Provincial Growth Fund aims to lift productivity potential in the provinces, create jobs and enhance community benefits.
Who is involved?
The project is a collaborative effort. Council is working closely with the landowners CNI Iwi Holdings, and mana whenua Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao and Ngāti Whakaue. Council will also be working closely with the Whakarewarewa Forest Managers, Timberlands Limited.
As we progress, we will be working with wider stakeholders to consider how they would like to be involved and what opportunities are available to them.
What are the roles of the Council and CNI when it comes to the forest?
The Tokorangi and Whakarewarewa forests lands* are owned by Central North Island Iwi Holdings Ltd, following its 2008 settlement with Government.
Council is responsible for the management of the Tokorangi Forest block under the terms of the Crown Forestry Licence (CFL). Council also manages recreation in the Whakarewarewa Forest under a management agreement with CNI and Timberlands who hold the CFL for the Whakarewarewa Forest block. Both CFLs expires in 2043 when full management and ownership will be returned to mana whenua iwi.
Council is in the process of formalising a co-governance group for the Whakarewarewa Forest to support ongoing, sustainable recreational use, management and development in the forest. This group includes Rotorua Lakes Council, Te Komiti Nui O Ngāti Whakaue, Tuhourangi Tribal Authority, CNI and Timberlands.
*While this area is commonly referred to as the Whakarewarewa Forest, it is made up of both the Tokorangi Forest and the Whakarewarewa Forest. Tokorangi Forest is the Redwoods area and the Whakarewarewa Forest is the commercial forest that grows beyond this.
Does the public get the chance to have their say on the project?
This project was part of the Long-Term Plan consultation process which attracted hundreds of submissions. As work progresses, Council will continue to keep our partners, stakeholders and the wider community informed in a variety of ways including through our e-pānui.
Will the forest developments affect events and activities in the area?
Council will work with event organisers and current activity concession holders to ensure they are informed and their activities can be provided for within the forest.