Te Awa – The Great New Zealand River Ride

An ambitious vision
The health and well-being of the mighty Waikato River and its adjoining land is important to all New Zealanders. For some time trees for Survival (TfS) has been committed in principle to using its programme to contribute to the river’s welfare. There is great scope for Waikato schools to play a part with tree planting programmes contributing to the improvement of the river and its environs.

To this end TfS has a project proposal before the Waikato River Authority
The concept for the project is to have 100 schools/marae/organisations (SMO) actively participating in the TfS programme within 10 years. This schoolbased programme is adaptable to marae and other organisations who wish to educate participants in nurturing and growing native plants; then planting them to combat erosion, improve water quality and regulate water flow with the additional benefits of increasing native biodiversity and offsetting carbon usage.

What will it achieve?

  • An average of 800 native plants per SMO per year
  • An education programme within the local community that emphasises the importance of clean waterways and maintenance of them.
  • A working relationship with multiple stake-holders influenced by our children, the rising generation, to endorse and support the development of change through active participation in the TfS programme.
  • Environmental sustainability and collaboration through practical experiential learning.
  • Cleansing the waterways leading into and including the Waikato River.

Where will it occur?
It will occur along the banks of the Waikato River and its tributaries from Huka Falls to the mouth at Port Waikato.

What is involved?

  • The establishment of partnership agreements with each SMO and identifying who will lead the TfS programme within that SMO.
  • Obtaining mentoring support for SMO from Enviroschool facilitators or other contracted facilitators.
  • Provision of a Plant Growing Unit (PGU).
  • Collaboration with planting site coordinators eg. Waikato River Care,Local Authorities and Landowners.
  • Establishment of a part-time project coordinator then full-time once target number met.
  • Establishment of a distribution point and services.
  • Online administrative support.

What is the benefit of the project?

  • The education, collaboration and participation by all partners will bring about a change in practice, attitude and behaviour. It will strengthen communities and allow all parties to take pride in their environment.
  • When children go home and say to their parents… “we are growing trees to plant along the banks of the Waikato River, its tributaries and other eroding sites that cause damage and pollution in our rivers”… then the change begins.

Major progress is already under way with the launch of Te Awa – The Great New Zealand River Ride
Te Awa (the river) has an overarching positioning of lushness, water, rural green landscape and pockets of native bush. When complete, the Great New Zealand River Ride will travel 70 km along the shoreline of New Zealand’s largest and longest river from Lake Karapiro to Ngaruawahia. With a gentle contour it is an easy ride suitable for all ages and abilities. It is designed to work as a linear route or as a location based route with two key hubs; Hamilton and Cambridge.

Construction of the Te Awa River Ride is anticipated to get well underway in 2012, particularly along the Horotiu to Hamilton and from the Mighty River Domain along Lake Karapiro sectionsof the route –Maungatautari Ecological Island is located 6 km from Lake KarapiroDomain. The 5.5 km section linking Leamington to the Mighty River Domain at Lake Karapiro will be extended, with the path travelling a further two
kilometres south to the start of the rowing course. This exciting section will be among the most beautiful stretches of the entire 70 km route.

The northern sections are currently being developed in partnership with Te Araroa; the proposed route is planned for the western side of the Waikato River with access at the Horotiu Bridge, at Meadowview Lane near the Fonterra Te Rapa plant,or further south at the Hamilton Equestrian Centre.

Development of the most northern section, linking Horotiu to Ngaruawahia,is also likely to begin in mid-2012.

In Ngaruawahia, at the northern end of the cycle way, is the home of the Maori King and the Turangawaewae marae,in close proximity to Hakarimata, the Department of Conservation scenic reserve.

Like a well-constructed story, Te Awa has a great beginning and a magical ending, all based around nature tourism and interwoven with a rich cultural connection. In the middle is NewZealand’s 4th largest city as the cycle trail winds its way through the heart of Hamilton (Kirikiriroa) along the banks of the Waikato River.

In between Hamilton and Ngaruawahia cyclists will pass a Māori pa site, an equestrian centre and Pukete mountain bike track. On the way to the second hub, Cambridge, the trail passes two golf courses and continues to the Mystery Creek Events Centre. At this point a small excursion takes the cyclist to the Mystery Creek Winery and the renowned Woodbox restaurant.

At Mystery Creek a swing bridge gives access to the east side of the river which features the Pencarrow Stud, waterfall’s en masse, stunning glow worm activity, hidden and untouched sandy beaches,an art gallery and significant Māori gardens from 200 years ago that are cited as the best in New Zealand.

Adjacent to St Peter’s School, will be the new Home of Cycling facility. Past that school is Cambridge, New Zealand’s picture perfect small town. This hub offers cafes, bars, olde worlde shops, a museum and craft outlets and the Karapiro Domain is a short 5 km journey across the Karapiro dam bridge.

The vision for Te Awa is very much aligned with the Waikato River Authority’s goals and strategies. The development of Te Awa will help return the focus of the local community to one of its greatest assets, the Waikato River.
It will offer a means to explore areas of the river not currently accessible and will encourage neighbourhoods to connect in a joint effort to protect the treasure in their own backyards.

Many of the objectives to realising the vision are shared with Tainui:

  • The protection of the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River.
  • The restoration and protection of the relationship of Waikato-Tainui with the Waikato River, including their economic, social, cultural, and spiritual relationships.
  • The protection and enhancement of significant sites.
  • The promotion of improved access to better enable sporting, recreational, and cultural opportunities.

TfS is proud to be embarking on this journey with Te Awa and excited by the opportunity this undertaking offers to contribute the strengths of the TfS programme to the development of the Waikato river.