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Scenic walkway opening in Bay of Islands

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Scenic walkway opening in Bay of Islands

The final stage of a walkway that winds through coastal beaches, mangroves and native bush between Okiato and Russell in the Bay of Islands will be officially opened to the public on Saturday, 24 September.

The 8.2km walkway was developed by the Bay of Islands Walkways Trust with funding support from the New Zealand Walking Access Commission, New Zealand Lottery Grants Board and ASB Community Trust. The track completes a full day walking circuit encompassing Russell - Okiato - Opua - Paihia using ferry links and the existing Paihia to Opua Coastal Walkway.

Bay of Islands Walkways Trust Secretary Margaret Pasco said the walkway gave people the opportunity to see native flora and fauna, historic sites and rare native birds.

"Rare birds such as fernbirds, weka and kiwi are present. Okiato at the start of the track was the first capital of New Zealand and the remains of the original well can still be seen."

The Bay of Islands Walkways Trust received a total of $250,000 in funding for the track, of which $50,000 came from the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

"The Commission funding was very important to the completion of the track where safety was an issue on roadside stretches near Russell township. This type of access work did not fall within the criteria of other funding agencies but was essential to see the track completed," Mrs Pasco said.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission Chief Executive Mark Neeson said the project won funding through the inaugural 2010 round of the Commission's Enhanced Access Fund.

"The Okiato to Russell Walkway provides practical access into one of the most scenic areas of New Zealand. Projects that enhance access to the outdoors and leave a legacy for future generations are precisely why the Enhanced Access Fund was established."

Thirty projects around New Zealand have been awarded funding through the Enhanced Access Fund since its first funding round in 2010.

Among those that have been completed are the Pahi Peninsula Walkway in Northland, the Lake Hill Track near Canterbury's Lake Coleridge and Dalton's Track near the Pelorus Bridge in Marlborough.

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