While significant investment was received for the original Trail construction from the Ministry of Business Innovation & Enterprise, these funds don’t extend to Trail maintenance once built.
The 160km Hauraki Rail Trail traverses three Districts. Therefore the three councils, Matamata Piako, Hauraki and Thames Coromandel District Councils each contribute towards trail maintenance based on the amount of kilometres within their boundaries.
The Trail requires additional funding and donations to support the further development of the trail in the form of shelters, rest areas, seating, landscaping, and of course story-telling signage.
It is a major focus of the Hauraki Rail Trail Trust to ensure that resources are available, to protect and enhance the Trail and the experiences of all who use it. We sat down with the Trail’s CEO, Diane Drummond, to hear more about on-going maintenance, special projects and the importance of koha (donations).
We are rated as a Grade One (Easiest) trail, and the trail surface plays a major part in this grading. Mother Nature is a cruel mistress on our trail, with heavy rainfall and flooding, followed by warm days, rapid weed growth, and tree falls. Add to this the high number of riders we enjoy, and the trail surface really gets a beating. Currently maintenance costs around $300,000 per annum for just the basics, and it is never enough. We are constantly seeking support from the community, i.e. farmers for fencing, community funds for shelters etc, environmental funds for weed removal to improve the overall trail experience.
There are many maintenance jobs along the trail that vary from month to month, and sometimes year to year. Last year we replaced several kilometres of fencing in conjunction with local farmers.
With the help of Habitat Enhancement Landcare Partnership (HELP) we removed hundred’s of metres of privet, and have a large planting programme in place to beautify the area. Tree-fall is a regular occurrence in the Karangahake Gorge, and we’re working to remove much of the weed-species by felling and chipping. Regular maintenance also includes the inevitable weed-sprays, toilet cleaning, patching potholes etc.
We need to improve the overall trail surface to allow for a 2.5-metre wide riding surface. Our trail is now ten years old, and in many places the old train ballast is making an appearance. We are working with our funding partners to try and find a solution to this massive problem.
Signage, both directional and story-telling is currently undergoing a transformation, with new blade style directional signs starting to pop up, replacing the older blue maps. We also have an awesome project underway to construct 16 shelters in partnership with Rotary. You will start seeing these pop up very soon.
Day to day maintenance is funded by our three settlor Councils, TCDC, MPDC, and HDC. Occasionally there may be an exceptional cost - such as when we lost 2 kilometres of trail on top of the stop-banks at Pūkorokoro-Miranda. In this case we were able to get $300,000 support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to remedy the issue.
The day-to-day activities of the Trust ensure that the Hauraki Rail Trail is maintained to an appropriate standard as a national Grade 1 cycleway, for which we partly rely on the involvement of local communities. Ministry funding almost always requires 50 per cent co-funding, so we actively seek support from community funds, public donations and other stakeholders.
We are incredibly lucky to have donations, volunteers and sponsorship which are forthcoming from our local communities. A donation to the Trust through our Givealittle Page enables us to take our incredible community asset from good to great, giving enjoyment and health benefits to those who use it. We think it’s a great way for everyone to be part of something amazing, and any donation, however modest makes you part of the Trail.
Last year these small donations added up to thousands of dollars. We were able to progress on several projects including the directional signage that is getting great feedback.
We also planted several kilometres of wildflower seeds and some really made a great display. The harsh summer conditions of 2020 meant many didn’t get large enough to seed this last year. Fingers crossed they will make an appearance again.
We’re keen to get more amazing seating on the trail. We had such a great response from the railway themed seat donated by the Skelly family, and would like to install more. The Goldfields Railway has donated the wheels for the next seat, and so we just need to raise the funding for the next installation.
If you love the Hauraki Rail Trail as much as we do, you can make a donation through our Givealittle Page. Every donation however small is a big contribution. Thank you!
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