A new $1.8 million wharf is to be built at remote Pouto as part of the Kaipara Harbour Wharves project.
It will be the only new wharf in the unique $4.95 million Provincial Growth Fund-funded project.
The wharf will be one of four initial developments in the Kaipara District Council (KDC) project aimed at improving Kaipara Harbour’s water transport network to build tourism and local economic opportunities, including capitalising on its location close to Auckland.
It’s focussed on building slow tourism Otago-rail-trail-style by linking spots across the north of the 950 square kilometre harbour, the biggest of its type in New Zealand.
The harbour’s location on Auckland’s back door has become more important since Covid-19, Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith said.
The Kaipara Harbour Wharves (KHW) project and the district’s other developing tourism offered huge potential for Aucklanders going into their own back yard for recreation, rather than travelling internationally.
International tourists were part of the project’s business case calculations.
Smith said their current absence did not mean the project had become of less worth.
“There are a million people in Auckland who were just about climbing the wall to get out and about during Covid-19 lockdown and we’re right next door,” Smith said.
The KHW project was outlined in a Kaipara water transport network and wharves feasibility study and programme business case report presented to KDC councillors this week. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has just approved the scheme’s business case put forward in the PGF-funded report, meaning KDC can now start more detailed project work.
“I’m now looking forward to piles being driven, nails being hammered in by the neffs (a colloquial term for young people without jobs) and people enjoying the harbour,” Shane Jones, Minster for Regional Development said.
“The more we have our families enjoying the own environment, using boats to access fishing spots, the more we are celebrating the birth right of being Kiwi,” Jones said.
Pouto wharf is to be built at Pouto Point for charter and tourist vessels, fishing and recreation – this location chosen as the best from three local investigated options.
KDC will now work with the Pouto community on finalising its design and specific location. An initial feasibility plan done 17 years ago and used as the Pouto bid’s foundation, must now be updated to meet today’s stricter health and safety legislation.
“The wharf is to be built in a sensitive and challenging environment with very strong tidal flows,” Smith said.
An $864,320 upgrade is also planned for Pahi wharf with work expected to start in the next year.
Dargaville’s $628,850 pontoon upgrade is to serve as the KHW ferry transport hub.
A $400,000 spend is also going towards working with local Maori communities on developing beach landing options at three harbourside ancestral marae – Arapaoa near Tinopai, Oruawharo south-west of Kaiwaka and Otamatea at Batley. Beach landings are characteristic of Abel Tasman National Park tourism.
A new $50,000 Kaipara destination marketing strategy will also be put together to focus KHW tourism development efforts around the harbour and district.
These initial plans - for the next three years - will be followed by a second KHW implementation phase. This is planned to kick off from about 2023 with an $805,800 jetty upgrade and new pontoon for Ruawai. Work will then follow at Kellys Bay, Oneriri, Maungaturoto, Te Kopuru and Tinopai.